Kia Ora Everyone!
Last weekend my friends and I went to Brewster Hut and had the best time! Brewster Hut is located in Mt Aspiring Nation Park, the same park as my trip with the tramping club. I was so excited to go back because the area was so beautiful! This tramp, however, was very different than my one with the tramping club. The 6 of us squeezed into our friend’s van and Juliet had to sit in the back seat surrounded by all our packs. We were originally going to camp Friday night close to the trailhead but it was raining pretty hard so we instead stayed at a hostel in Wanaka.
When we got to Wanaka we went to Red Star Burger again and then to get groceries. At the grocery store, we ran into another group from Otago who was also going to Brewster Hut. However, their group alone consisted of 15 people and the hut only has 12 beds. They also rented crampons and we did not. We got a little worried even though the DOC said the conditions should be safe. The DOC is a great source to use, similar to the Forest Service. Their job is to know the tracks and advice you on the conditions. If you ever have any questions about safety and knowledge of the track, don’t hesitate to call the DOC! We tried to find a rental shop for crampons the next morning just in case, but when we couldn’t find any we decided we would just asses the situation when there and if it was dangerous we would turn around.
The next morning we left Wanaka and drove another hour to the trailhead car park. We parked, strapped our packs on, and headed out! The first part of the tramp entailed a river crossing past our knees. None of us wanted to hike 4 more hours with wet clothes so we took our pants off and crossed in our boots and underwear! It was definitely a bonding experience for all of us! After crossing the river, we put dry clothes on and climbed up this huge rock to actually get to the trail. We immediately realized this hike would be very difficult and a steep climb. For 2 1/2 hours, we were climbing up the beach forested mountain over tree roots and rocks. Many times we had to use roots and shrubs to help hoist ourselves up. The track was also slippery and very muddy. We had sunshine, rain, snow, and very strong winds in those couple hours. I was definitely losing motivation after a while and ready for a change of scenery when we finally broke through the tree line. The view was worth it as you realized you were tramping surrounded by mountain peaks! The track continued to climb up a ridge with lots of rocks and eventually got to the snow line. Luckily you could walk to the side of the snow and wasn’t dangerous at all. When I finally reached the top of the last hump I was so grateful to see the hut! It was a beautiful location, with this bright red hut surrounded by snowy mountain peaks.
There ended up being 30 plus people trying to stay in the 12 bunk hut. It was very crowded! When we got to the hut we warmed up inside, played cards, and then explored around the hut outside. During the off-season, winter, there is no gas provided in the huts so we brought our own stove burner and gas can. During the off-season, there is still water provided outside the hut collected from the roof, an outhouse that doesn’t stock toilet paper, and a first-come-first-serve standard. Since its first-come-first-serve, you do not have to book a bed but the DOC still suggests paying $10 NZD to help keep the facilities up to standard. To be safe the water should also be boiled before using. Some of the people at the hut used the water and were fine, but one of our members drank the water without boiling it and felt sick to her stomach when we got back.
For dinner, we boiled water and made gnocchi with tomato sauce. After dinner, everyone at the hut grabbed their sleeping bags and sat on the deck watching the sunset. It was so much fun to talk and laugh with everyone as we watched the sunset and the stars appear while being surrounded by native Kea Birds!
The next morning I woke up for sunrise, which wasn’t as good as sunset but still amazing!
In the morning, the outside water facet was frozen so we collected snow and boiled it to make oatmeal. The tramp down was much harder than the way up! It was really hard on our knees, hips, and muscles because it was so steep and uneven. It took a little less time to get down, but everyone’s legs were so tired at the bottom and we were so ready for lunch! We ate lunch in Wanaka and then made the long journey back to Dunedin. We all slept amazing that night and woke up the next morning barely able to move because of sore muscles!