Source: Department of Conservation
Date: 18 November 2021
From 1 December 2021, overnight use of Sam Summers Hut will no longer be permitted, but visitors will still be able to access it during the day.
The hut, built in the 1930s by gold prospector Sam Summers, sits high in the bush beside a waterfall on the Mt Crichton Loop track. It is a drawcard for day hikers and attracts adventurers, who choose to camp overnight on its old sack bunks.
Although most visitors treat the hut with a high degree of respect, there have been unfortunate cases of people lighting fires, scratching their names in its walls, climbing on its roof, and even breaking its windows.
Queenstown District Senior Ranger for Heritage and Visitors, Richard Kennett, says the move to honour its historic hut categorisation has been made in recognition of the need to protect the ongoing integrity of the building.
“Changing Sam Summers Hut from recreational overnight use to day-use-only will help us manage the hut’s longevity, ensuring it is there for future public enjoyment,” Kennett says.
Although the hut is already classified as an historic hut, overnight stays have been permitted due to a lower number of visitors. However, in recent years the area has become more popular with visitors and ongoing overnight use of the hut is no longer sustainable.
Following the same rationale, the day visitor only approach has been successfully applied to historic huts in the Whakaari Conservation Area near Glenorchy.
In 2018 a 155-year-old homestead burned to the ground at Skippers Canyon after overnight visitors lit a fire inside and it was not fully extinguished, while an historic wooden hut at Macetown burned down in the early 2000s when a visitor lit a fire to keep warm, and the fire got out of control.
Access to Sam Summers Hut is via the Mount Crichton Loop Track, 12 km from Queenstown on the Queenstown to Glenorchy road. The Mount Crichton Loop Track a well-formed track with rivers, a waterfall, native bush, scenic views, and historic features such as the Sam Summers Hut.
There is an alert in place on the DOC website about the change from overnight use to day-visitors only. Signage to notify visitors will also be installed.
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