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
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.