Kirwans Hut

27 – 28 June 2020

With a plan to tackle Kirwans Hut just outside of Reefton, a total of ten of us set out from Christchurch. Gary, Margot, Mary and Diane did so on Friday afternoon staying in Reefton overnight, six others in two cars headed over on Saturday morning. The weather forecast was for damp conditions on Saturday night and all-day Sunday, with swirling fronts along the West Coast.

The former mining town of Capleston, down Boatmans Road, was the trailhead, with a number of former gold and coal mines in the valley. We started in two groups, the Reefton overnighters left in the morning and the rest of us set off just after 11am. The DOC sign said a six-hour trip to the hut.

The first part of the trail had us going through a short tunnel and thereafter crossing a few swing bridges. An hour up the track we stopped for a lunch break by the last bridge at the confluence of two creeks, just before we started gaining elevation.

As the trail was built for the goldminers, it was well laid-out and easy walking, aside from the odd tree falls and minor slips. Rusty remnants from the miners were dotted along the trail, and slow steady climb of some 800-900 metres had us reaching the hut just before sunset.

The early morning group arrived at the hut first and had extra hour or so of daylight to explore a bit around Kirwans Hill a kilometre away for 360-degree views. We were all treated to a few spectacular rays of light between cloud layers, excellent for photos.

The serviced 12-bunk hut had ample coal, double-glazed windows, and is well placed on the hill at 1294m. We had the space to ourselves. We were treated to an excellent Japanese-themed hotpot and plum pudding/custard desert, and we were able to see the lights shining in Reefton before bed. The anticipated rain finally set in, but I only heard a few passing showers on the roof during the night.

The morning had us starting off in rain gear, but only light rain got to us on the trail though the tree canopy. Back down the way we came and the weather got better, treating us to full sun back at the car park. Another successful trip in shaking off the tramping rust post lock-down!

We were: Diane Mellish, Darcy Mawson, Norman Burden, Raymond Ford (leader), Gary Huish, Margot Bowden, Keith Hoard, Vesna Mojsilovic, Mary McKeown, and John Robinson. (KH)

Kirwans Hut in the evening light. Photo courtesy of Vesna Mojsilovic

Evening meal Kirwans Hut. Photo courtesy of Raymond Ford

Late afternoon view looking south from Kirwans Hut. Photo courtesy of Vesna Mojsilovic