The Rod Donald Hut

The Rod Donald Hut is a nine bunk tramping hut situated above Little River about half way along Te Ara Pātaka. It is popular with Christchurch families as it is only a 50 minute walk from Port Levy Saddle.  For more information about the hut and to book click here.

Background
The Rod Donald Trust identified that an extra hut was needed along the Summit Walkway near Port Levy saddle early in the project. The plan was to find a site to build one, but that changed when a 10 hectare property with a little crib on it came onto the market in April, 2014. The Trust made an offer and was delighted when the owners, Paul and Ruth Maurice, accepted it and were prepared to wait while we conducted due diligence. The Trust engaged local builder David Brailsford to convert it to a tramping hut meeting the Department of Conservation service hut standard. Wastewater engineer Andrew Dakers was engaged to sort the thorny issue of dealing with toilet and wastewater in a remote environment. The result is a beautifully appointed hut using recycled materials and macrocarpa to create a comfortable environment and state of the art VIP (Ventilation Improved Pit) toilet and greywater dealt with by worms in a trench. The hut also has a solar system to provide lighting and pump water to storage tanks above. The previous owners had placed a QEII covenant on the whole property which includes old growth and regenerating native vegetation.

Official Opening
The Rod Donald Hut was officially opened in November 2015, almost 10 years to the day its namesake and passionate environmentalist and outdoor enthusiast died. A  sunny and still day saw over 100 people including the late Rod Donald’s partner, father and children, as well as trampers, neighbouring landowners, tangata whenua, Rod Donald Trustees and outdoor recreation organisations attend the opening with the majority of them taking the opportunity to walk in from the Port Levy Saddle over Waipuna Saddle.

The opening of the hut also provided an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the local rūnanga of Wairewa whose rohe the hut is nestled in. Kaumātua James Robinson officially opened the hut with a karakia and tapu-lifting ceremony, followed by a whaikōrero by Wairewa rūnanga representative Iaean Cranwell.

Speeches by Trust Chair Simon Mortlock, Laura King of the Federated Mountain Club, Hugh Wilson of Hinewai, Alice Shanks of the QEII Trust, speaking variously about the hut’s history and their own early tramping experiences.

Usage
The Trust is delighted with the uptake from the Christchurch public in using the hut and especially its target market of families with young children and organisations working with young people such as Youthtown. The hut was almost fully booked the whole summer of 2016/2017 with under 18s making up 40% of those staying.

The Trust thanks everyone who has stayed for looking after the hut and keeping it so clean.

Check out our entry in “A Bunk For The Night, A Guide To New Zealand’s Best Back Country Huts” by Shaun Barnett, Rob Brown and Geoff Spearpoint, published by Potton & Burton.

A group from Youthtown at the Rod Donald Hut

Trustees at a strategic planning meeting at the Rod Donald Hut


A Youthtown tramper enjoying the hut


Over 100 people attended the opening of the hut


Toasting marshmallows on the potbelly


A large map of the Banks Peninsula is a source of fascination for Louis and Will on Will’s first overnight tramp.


The Trust is grateful to the late Rod Donald’s family for enabling the Trust to name the hut after him. Present at the opening were Rod’s partner Nicola Shirlaw, daughters Zoe, Holly and Emma, and father David Donald.