HIK­ING TO THE BREW­STER HUT

I was in search of an overnight, but not too tech­ni­cal, hike into the moun­tains when a friend rec­om­mended the Brew­ster Hut walk, lo­cated near Wanaka in Mount Aspiring Na­tional Park. I hadn't heard of it be­fore and a quick google search brought up the Depa

Say Yes To Adventure - - Features - WORDS AND IM­AGE: Tam­sin Gor­man LO­CA­TION: New Zealand Tam­sin Gor­man is a keen tram­per and pho­tog­ra­pher, based in Queen­stown, New Zealand. She is in­spired by the out­stand­ing beauty of the South Is­land and loves to ex­plore its moun­tains, glaciers, forests, l

Tam­sin Gor­man

AF­TER GET­TING ALL the in­for­ma­tion on the track lo­ca­tion and hut's fa­cil­i­ties and fees from DOC, I wanted to dou­ble check just how far and steep this hike would be. On the topo map I worked out it was ap­prox­i­mately two-and-ahalf kilo­me­tres to the hut from the start of the track and it would be an in­cline of 1,000 me­tres – this was go­ing to be a sweaty hike!

I man­aged to talk my friend An­neliese into join­ing me on the premise that once at the hut we would be able to take a two-hour walk to the Brew­ster Glacier ter­mi­nal lake the fol­low­ing morn­ing. She ac­qui­esced and we set a date for the fol­low­ing week­end.

On the day of the hike we left Queen­stown early and ar­rived at the start of the track around mid­morn­ing. A short river cross­ing

(boots off and knee-deep icy wa­ter!) took us to the edge of the beech for­est where we be­gan the climb.

The hike wound its way up through na­tive beech for­est car­peted with fern, with tree roots act­ing as a nat­u­ral lad­der to climb. The track was clearly marked and we were of­ten joined by cu­ri­ous fan­tails. On one oc­ca­sion six of these chirped and danced in the branches of the trees around us.

Af­ter three hours of hik­ing, we got above the bush line and reached the ridge where we would con­tinue for nearly a kilo­me­tre. Low cloud hugged the val­ley be­low us and hav­ing climbed 800 me­tres at this point, the mighty Haast River was a tiny sil­ver thread snaking its way through the for­est. Look­ing up we were sur­rounded by rugged moun­tain peaks shrouded in misty clouds. To walk in these moun­tains and to look down on where we had come from was such an in­cred­i­ble feel­ing; I felt as if I was on top of the world and aside from An­neliese, the only per­son for miles around. Be­fore we saw the hut it­self we caught sight of the long drop toi­let; a loo with a view! It wasn't long af­ter that the red roof of the hut ap­peared in front of us. We ar­rived at the hut four hours af­ter set­ting off and quickly got a cup of tea on the boil. The hut was re­built in 2007 and so is one of the more mod­ern huts around this area. It sleeps 12 and has a rea­son­ably sized cooking and din­ing area. Through­out the af­ter­noon other oc­cu­pants ar­rived and in­tro­duc­tions en­sued. We spent the af­ter­noon walk­ing around the flats sur­round­ing the hut and tak­ing pho­to­graphs, fol­lowed by an evening play­ing cards.

Af­ter a com­fort­able sleep, the fol­low­ing morn­ing we set off for the Brew­ster Glacier ter­mi­nal lake. The cloud was low but we de­cided to head off in case it cleared up on the way. The track wasn't marked and we re­lied on cairns (rock piles) to find our way. Af­ter an hour it was ev­i­dent that the cloud wasn't go­ing to clear and we de­cided to head back to the hut and then down to the start of the track. I was dis­ap­pointed not to see the glacier but it just means I'll have to do the hike again, some­thing I plan to do very soon. This hike is a great overnight ex­cur­sion and although it is pretty steep, be­ing up in those moun­tains made it well worth the ef­fort.

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