This is the story of the best hut trip in New Zealand. The best because of the adventure, the beauty, the little shack itself, and most importantly, the expedition crew. This is the story of the Barker hut.
We’d meant to get to the Liverpool or French Ridge huts as the finale to a five-day mission that connected Rees Saddle, Cascade Saddle, and the Matukituki back in February. But a storm of epic proportions confined us to the Aspiring hut for an extra day, thwarting our grand plans to spend our last night at the head of that heavenly valley.
I saw a photo of the Brewster hut on the wall of the sleepy Makarora DOC office when my friend Ellyse and I stopped for intel on the Gillespie Circuit. The picture of the little red shack perched on a plateau beneath peaks and glaciers stole my heart, and I pledged to make that my home for a night or two after finishing the Gillespie.
The Stafford Hut was a series of last-minute decisions, a series of surprises. And it was completely different from the alpine huts that have stolen my heart in these last months. All of these add up to earn this little seaside shack a slot in my top five New Zealand huts.
In this case, “dirtbags” refers to trampers, hitchhikers, and people who live in their cars (who have also very likely lived under the previous two labels) traveling in New Zealand for any length of time.
For those wondering about what it’s like in these backcountry hostels that dot New Zealand’s landscape: look no further.
Last week, my friend Ellyse and I set out to tramp (hike, in New Zealand speak) the Gillespie Circuit in the Southern Alps. Our 8 1/2 hour adventure on Day 1 was a typical snapshot into your average tramp in the wilds of New Zealand.