April 12-13, 2000 (Map S25 Levin)
Through discussions with many active club members over recent years it had become evident that Burn Hut was an unknown quantity to most trampers. So, with our curiosity well piqued about this hut in a remote part of the Tararua Ranges, Masaki, Dave and I set out to enlighten ourselves.
Burn Hut is accessed by a track which starts at the Mangahao No. 2 Reservoir in the northern Tararuas. The track is divided into three distinct topographies: a river sidle section; an uphill section through native bush; and an open tussock tops section. A unique aspect of the open tops section is that it is at such a relatively low altitude (700m - 750m). The tops section is gently undulating and of short duration.
Burn Hut sits at the bush edge in the headwaters of a branch of the Taramea Stream at an altitude of about 650 metres. The view from the hut is east, over the northern Wairarapa hills. It is a six bunk hut built in 1972 and is maintained by the Horowhenua Shooters Association. The hut is in very good condition and has a very efficient 'Fatso' stove. There is a small water tank with connection to an inside tap and sink.
The walk in took us 2+ hours with standard weekend packs - we doddled a bit to take in the views along the way. For an easy party, three hours would probably be a comfortable time.
It was a bit misty on the tops when we arrived for lunch so the first part of the afternoon was spent collecting dead leatherwood for the stove. Then Dave and I ventured up on to the ridge top and came upon a well cleared track through the leatherwood over bump 798. This track continued south for about 45 minutes before becoming ill-defined. Using Dave's saw and a hut saw we did a bit of track maintenance as we went along. During our outing Masaki had got a good fire going and we used the Fatso to cook our evening meal. It had been a pleasant day in new territory.
The next morning we set out to return south along the tops of the Puketurua Track, which leads down off the tops to the No. 1 Reservoir. Despite the warm temperatures and sunny sky, our day on the tops can be easily summarised as "leatherwood hell". We reached the Puketurua Track just as the sun set. It was then a slow trip down this overgrown track following our torch beams. At Baber Forks, at the bottom of the track, we bumbled around in the dark before picking up the track on the true right which leads around the reservoir back to the top dam. From there it was a determined walk along the road back to the car we had left at the No. 2 Reservoir. It had been an adventurous 15 hour day and we acknowledged that the travel along the tops in that part of the Tararuas would definitely be a "oncer".
Trip Members were: Masaki Kojima, Dave Reynolds, Bill Allcock.