Staff Picks: Top 4 Hut Hikes Near Wanaka | Racers Edge Wanaka
Wanaka is renowned for its beautiful mountains, many of which you can hike up and stay on overnight in one of New Zealand’s famous red huts. Whether you’re a local aiming to bag all of the local mountains or a visitor looking for the best overnight hike during your stay, with so many cosy huts to choose from and all with spectacular views it’s hard to figure out which one to book first. We asked our staff which hut they would recommend and how they found the hike to try and help you pick the best one for you.
Booking required: During summer
Hike duration: 5.5 hours – 6.5 hours one way
Recommended by: Corinne and Sam
Named after the Liverpool Stream, this hut was built by the Otago Alpine Club in 1953. When ownership was transferred to DOC in 2009 the original hut was demolished and rebuilt to create the more comfortable version of the 10 sleeper that we know and love today.
The track up to the hut starts from Pearl Flat after a 2-3 hour walk into the valley from Raspberry Flats car park. Corrine and Sam would recommend cycling this part of the track to cut down on time and save your energy. You can’t cycle past the Mount Aspiring Hut so this is a great place to leave your bike if you have one. The next part of the hike is fairly challenging with steep bush line and slippery terrain. Once past this, you’ll be able to see the bright red bivvy across the last stream crossing. The last leg of the journey takes you over a 50m bluff to reach the hut’s basin.
This hut comes so highly recommended by our staff and Wanaka locals due to the glorious views you can soak in. Once at the hut, you’re high above the Matukituki River West Branch which offers spectacular views of Mount Aspiring, Rob Roy Peak and Mount Avalanche.
French Ridge Hut
Booking required: No
Hike duration: 6 hours – 7.5 hours one way
The current French Ridge Hut is actually the 3rd built on this spot, the first being built in 1939 by the Otago Alpine club. Wear and tear caused the second hut to be built in 1973 and finally the current hut in 1999.
To get up to the French Ridge Hut and see the glorious views, you make your way down the Matukituki Valley on the same route as the Liverpool Hut. From the Pearl Flats, you want to make your way right towards the French Ridge. Once crossing the bush-line, it’s a steep climb (not hike) up over the tree roots and rocks. This section of the hike takes around 2 hours to cover 2kms due to it’s steep incline. Once out of the bush, it’s back to the tussock packed terrain for another 1km where you’ll find the hut nestled on flat ground just below the summer snowline.
Despite the challenging hike/climb up to this ridge, its obvious to those who make it why it comes so highly recommended. With views back into the Matukituki Valley, surrounding glaciers and neighboring huts, this hike is humbling in the best way.
Mount Aspiring Hut
Booking required: Yes
Hike duration: 2 hours – 2.5 hours one way
Recommended by: Joe
If you’re looking for a more mellow overnight hiking experience than our previous two recommendations then the Mount Aspiring Hut is the one for you. We often recommend this hike to families with younger children as the terrain is really easy to navigate, even for the little ones!
Most of our staff have stayed at the hut on their way to other adventures and Workshop Manager Joe has said it’s one of the nicest huts he’s stayed in. The hut is very modern and accommodating compared to many of the others which are situated at a higher elevation. There are also more amenities to be found at this bothy that you won’t be treated to at others such as gas cookers, heating, flushing toilets and electric lighting.
After the 2 – 2.5 hour walk over the grassy, glacier sculpted flat lands you can take in the views of the Matukituki Valley, surrounding mountains and local glaciers from the comfort of Mount Aspiring Hut.
Fern Burn Hut
Booking required: No
Hike duration: 3 hours – 4 hours one way
Recommended by: Corinne and Bella
The Fern Burn Hut can be found on the well known Motatapu Track, which is a rewarding multi-day hike from Wanaka to Arrowtown. If you’re not keen on the 3-4 day through-hike, then you can sample the track with a two-day, one-night hike to the Fern Burn Hut and back.
The track starts as a trail through flat lands used for farming. Following the Fern Burn river, you’ll eventually reach steeper, forest terrain where the river will start to cascade and flow down through the beech trees. No Otago hike would be complete without some tussock covered terrain, which is what you’ll find on the last leg of the journey up to the hut. Most describe this portion of the Motatapu track as fairly straight forward and non-strenuous which makes it great for those looking for an easy-going overnight hike.