The Rod Donald Hut officially open

The new Rod Donald Hut near Waipuna Saddle provided by Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust quietly opened to the public on October 15. “The hut has been ready for a few weeks”, said Suky Thompson, Trust Manager, “but we waited for the Summit Walkway tracks to re-open after the lambing season before opening the hut”.

The new hut has nine bunks and a main room with lovely views over Little River and a potbelly stove. It’s a serviced hut, so firewood is provided.

The Summit Walkway connects Gebbies Pass in the Lyttelton Crater to Hilltop in the Akaroa crater on a relatively easy 2½ day tramp. The much-loved Sign of the Packhorse Hut provides the first night of accommodation and the new Rod Donald Hut the second night, making this scenic trip much more accessible to novice trampers than it has been to date.  The Rod Donald Hut can also be accessed in under an hour from Port Levy Saddle making it a great option as a first overnight tramp for families with children.

Overnight users must book bunks at the hut. “We’ve done this to make it easier for families and youth groups”, says Suky, “as they know they have a bunk for the night and don’t have to carry a tent in case the hut is full”.  Department of Conservation have also put the Packhorse Hut on the booking system, and the pair can be booked together via the Summit Walkway Track on the DOC website, or users can book them separately by going directly into the booking system via DOC’s Book Online option and looking under Backcountry Huts.

A formal opening ceremony for Rod Donald Hut will be held on November 7th as the first event in the Banks Peninsula Walking Festival. Members of the public who wish to attend the tramp to the hut and the opening ceremony must book on the event via the Banks Peninsula Walking Festival on the Eventfinda website and select Sat 7 Nov AM.

The formal opening is occurring exactly 10 years after Green MP Rod Donald’s untimely death. “This happened by coincidence rather than design”, says Suky, “but really makes the whole project even more special and poignant for the Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust”.  It also turns out to be Conservation Week. How serendipitous!


Photos show Trust Manager Suky Thompson unveiling the sign pointing users to the hut from Waipuna Saddle and removing the key from the door. “A pretty thrilling moment”, says Suky, who has been working on the project for over a year.IMG_0200IMG_0189