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Source: Department of Conservation

Whether you’re heading out on a family adventure or walking off those Christmas mince pies, summer is a great time to get outdoors.

If you’re going overnight, a DOC hut can be a great option for accommodation. To help you get the most out of your visit, here are some insider tips from our rangers and keen tramping staff for staying in DOC huts this holiday season.

Maungahuka Hut, Wairarapa. Photo: Brian Dobbie

Things to bring

Photo: DOC Mount Aspiring team

“Bring a candle – most huts are equipped with candleholders, so enjoy a cosy evening by candlelight. Don’t forget to watch the open flame and to pack out any used tealights and matches.” – Stef, Ranger, Tititea/Mt Aspiring National Park Visitor Centre

ALWAYS take ear plugs to a hut, it isn’t the snorers fault that they snore, and snoring should be expected in a public hut. – Cherie, Administration Team, Rakiura National Park

“Bring light hut shoes, even if it is just one pair per family for trips to the loo!” Andrew, Regional Planning Manager, Palmerston North

“After a long hike I like to be warm and comfy in the hut, I take some wooly socks, an extra layer of warm clothing and for a good night’s sleep I don’t go without earplugs.” Rossi, Paparoa Visitor Centre Ranger, Paparoa National Park

Inside Crosbies Hut, Coromandel. Photo: Brian Dobbie

“I have recently discovered inflatable solar lanterns – brighter and safer than candles- and just as light to carry.” Margaret, Paparoa Visitor Centre Ranger, Paparoa National Park

“A down jacket for sitting in the hut is a must for any season.” Andrew, Regional Planning Manager, Palmerston North

“Take a pack of cards – you never know who you might end up playing with at the hut” Brian, Recreation/Historic Technical Advisor, Wellington

Bluff Hut, West Coast. Photo: Brian Dobbie

Staying safe

“Always, always, always take your gas cooker outside the hut to change over a gas canister or cartridge and keep any sources of flame well away when you do this.” Amy Rutledge, Nelson VC Ranger

“Always be writing in the hut book when you arrive at the hut. It’s a good way to leave intentions and it can also be great reading entertainment!” – Bec Baxter, Visitor Centre Ranger, Rakiura National Park

Mintaro HutFiordland National Park. Photo: Brian Dobbie

Thinking of others

“Consider other hut users when packing for a trip, try not to pack things in crinkly plastic bags and remember to use a dim light when moving around bunkrooms at night” – Alasdair Burns, Visitor Centre Ranger, Rakiura National Park

“The Leave No Trace code applies to huts too – make sure to clean and tidy up after yourself for the next trampers!” – Sophie, Ranger, Tititea/Mt Aspiring National Park Visitor Centre

“In backcountry huts, remember to replace the firewood that you use with dead wood from the ground” – Alasdair Burns, Visitor Centre Ranger, Rakiura National Park

“Remember that backcountry huts are shared accommodation; please respect other users by keeping your bunk area and personal belongings tidy and cleaning up after yourself.”  Maggie Lilleby, Nelson VC Ranger

Christmas Village Hut with a fresh stock of firewood. Photo: Tyron Conner

Good planning

“When planning to use a backcountry hut, always take a camping mat in case you find a full hut, and have to sleep on the floor.”  Marion James, Nelson VC Ranger

“Think food – for a quick overnight, cook your food beforehand and freeze it in a Ziploc bag. By the time you get to the hut, it will have thawed and be ready to eat. Saves on gas too!” – Abby, Trainee Ranger, Tititea/Mt Aspiring National Park Visitor Centre

Camp Stream Hut, Lake Tekapo, Canterbury. Photo: Brian Dobbie

To finish off, here are a few tips about looking after the hut you’re using from our Recreation/Historic Technical Advisor Brian:

• If gas cookers are not provided at the hut, make sure that you use your cooker on the metal benches provided and not on the wooden tables where they may burn or scorch the wood.

• If you use the hut axe to cut firewood or kindling, make sure you do so on the ground outside the hut and not on the hut deck or inside, where a slip of the axe may damage the floor or deck

• If you have used the wood burner for heating the hut, it is recommended that you do not attempt to clean out the ash because it may still be warm and could become a fire hazard. When you arrive at the hut and want to light the wood burner, use the metal pan provided to clean out the cold ash and dispose of it in the metal ash bucket provided.

Cape Brett Hut, Northland. Photo: Brian Dobbie

Before you head out, check out this page on our website. It has all of the basic information you’ll need about booking huts, the facilities you can expect and what you need to know before you go.

Enjoy your trip!