Guide to Staying in Department of Conservation Huts

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The Department of Conservation manages a network of over 950 huts all over New Zealand. Some date back to the late 1800s, but the majority were built during the 1960s and 1970s. Since the late 1970s, many huts have been refurbished and many new huts have been purpose-built for recreation. All huts are maintained and serviced by wardens, rangers, and volunteers. 

DOC huts provide a place to stay overnight, take refuge from bad weather, or rest and recover when you're out exploring the outdoors. If you like luxury, the huts are probably not for you, if you like adventure you'll feel right at home

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What to expect from a DOC hut

Every hut is unique! The facilities available and services provided in or near huts are used to split the huts into four categories. Fees are based on the category on the hut. Be sure to check out the details of the facilities when booking and before heading off so you’re well prepared!

Great Walks Huts are the most comfortable huts available. They’re certainly not luxurious but they do have mattresses, water supply, toilets, hand washing facilities and heating with fuel available. They may have solar lighting, cooking facilities with fuel and a hut warden. These huts require booking and have maximum stay lengths. 

Serviced Huts have mattresses, water supply, toilets, hand washing facilities and heating with fuel available. They may have cooking facilities with fuel and a warden. It's $15 per adult, per night to stay. 

Standard Huts have mattresses, water supply and toilets. Wood heaters are provided at huts below the bush line. It's only $5 per adult, per night to stay. 

Basic Huts are, as the name suggests, the most basic but completely free to stay at!. They provide shelter but very limited other facilities. You'll need to bring your own sleeping mat. 

How to book a stay

The booking and payment process differs hut to hut. Some huts must be booked, others cannot be booked and are filled on a first come, first serve basis. Some huts are sole-use (whole place), others are shared-use (per bed).

If you book online, you make payment through the website at the time of booking. If you cannot book online, you pay the fee with Hut Tickets or a Backcountry Hut Pass.

The Backcountry Hut Pass is great for regular hut users. The bearers is entitled to unlimited use of most Serviced and Standard huts for the 6-12 month validity period. The alternative, Hut Tickets, are the right choice for infrequent hut users. Prepurchase these tickets and put the required quantity in the honesty box at the hut to pay for your stay. Order Hut Tickets or a Backcountry Hut Pass online here or see a list of retailer/offices where they're available for purchase here.

Check each individual hut page for booking and payment instructions or find out more about the system here

What to pack

What you need to take depends on what’s provided at the hut you’re going to. Look at the information on individual hut pages to get a better indication of this. 

Regardless of the hut category, the following are not provided so you'll need to bring your own:

  • Food
  • Cooking utensils, pots, pans
  • Sheets or blankets
  • Rubbish collection
  • Toilet paper

The following are our additional must-haves: 

  • Earplugs, sleeping in a shared space with strangers means snoring is a very real possibility.
  • Slip-on shoes, so you don't have to boot up every time you visit the bathroom. 
  • A pack of playing cards, brings people together and provides hours of entertainment. 

What you need to do at the hut

  • Pay for your stay by depositing hut tickets in the honesty box. The earnings help fund hut services and maintenance. 
  • Record your trip details in the hut book. This information helps DOC understand the usage of the huts and is helpful in the event of search and rescue. 
  • Keep huts clean and tidy. Leave muddy shoes outside and use the broom and brush and pan provided.
  • Be considerate of other hut guests. If you're heading to bed, leave room for latecomers and keep quiet if others are sleeping.  
  • Conserve the gas provided when using gas cookers or heaters.
  • Close windows and doors securely before leaving.
  • Take all rubbish, including cigarette butts, with you.

Top 15 huts in NZ

  1. Mount Brown Hut - Lake Kaniere Scenic Reserve
  2. Brewster Hut – Mount Aspiring National Park
  3. Packhorse Hut - Banks Peninsular Area
  4. Barker Hut - Arthur's Pass National Park
  5. Cape Brett Hut - Cape Brett and Whangamumu area
  6. Camp Stream Hut - Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park
  7. Mueller Hut – Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
  8. Luxmore Hut - Fiordland National Park
  9. French Ridge Hut – Mount Aspiring National Park
  10. Anchorage Hut - Abel Tasman National Park
  11. Pinnacles Hut - Coromandel Forest Park
  12. Maungahuka Hut - Tararua Forest Park
  13. Lane Cove Hut - Whangaroa Area
  14. Oturere Hut - Tongariro National Park 
  15. Sunrise Hut - Ruahine Forest Park

Browse all Department of Conservation Huts here

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Posted by Kezia Lynch on 25th of November, 2018