Otago Section of the New Zealand Alpine Club

Section Event

Big Hut Tramping/Snowshoe/Backcountry Skiing

Saturday, August 20 2022 — Sunday, August 21 2022

The Basics
Event type: Tramping
Start date: Saturday, August 20 2022
End Date: Sunday, August 21 2022
Registration cut-off Wednesday, August 17 2022 11:00 PM
Trip organizers
Eve O'Brien [Otago]
Cost Fuel approx. $20-40 depending on numbers in cars, $12 hut fee (payable via online banking after your trip to avoid refunds due to poor weather cancellation)
Participant Information
Who's invited Members and guests
Attendee screening Registration is first come, first served
Maximum number of participants 15
Total number registered 4
Who's registered You must be logged in to view participant list
Big Hut in Heavy Snow
Table Tennis at Big Hut


Big Hut at 1325m behind Middlemarch is a great local destination for some winter fun so we plan to make the most of the good snow (hopefully it sticks around up there till the weekend in question). The options are dependent on conditions at the time. Sometimes you can walk right to the hut without snowshoes but recently it has been 1m deep snow so snowshoes or skis are required to access the hut easily.  If we could walk directly to the hut, we'd plan a day walk higher up on snowshoes/backcountry skiing for the Sunday (I as trip organizer am not a skier but the trip is suitable for this as well as snowshoeing). There is also an option for people to come simply for a day walk if you are prepared for an early start and a solid day on Saturday. 

Big Hut was built as a club ski hut in 1946 so has a long history of ski use but is also a lovely spot for snowshoe adventures. 

Getting There

Big Hut is located near Middlemarch, Otago. 
Carpooling from Dunedin on Saturday morning (time will be dependent on whether we are aiming for day trip or overnight and will be communicated prior to trip). Approx. 1 hour 20 min drive to carparking area. 
We would take the Six Mile Creek track from Glencreag which is just past Middlemarch (see directions here
This is the most direct route to Big Hut at 2 - 3+ hour. Obviously speed of travel depends on the conditions as it can take longer in deep snow. It is straight up hill for 900m elevation but it's on farm tracks most of the way so not too bad. 
If staying overnight we'd aim for day excursion in the area on Sunday morning then head off from the hut after lunch to be back at the cars around 3-4pm and back in Dunedin around 5:30pm on Sunday. 

What to Expect

The track up to the Hut is relatively straightforward in good conditions but you will need a reasonable fitness level to cope with the climb. 
The weather and temperatures are likely to be VERY cold...think below zero inside the hut alone so ability to manage your warmth and energy levels in winter snow conditions is crucial. There is often strong winds and snow blowing about even if the day is clear and as it is tussock tops country with only the occasional rock tor for shelter it can be very exposed with freezing wind chill factors. 

There are two bunkrooms, a large common room with table tennis table, dining tables and seating, a relatively small kitchen, a gear room and a wash room/entry lobby, all with solar-powered lighting. There is a tank water supply and an outside toilet. There is no artificial heating in the hut - it can be subzero in winter.

Possible Hazards

Hypothermia due to extreme cold. All participants need to bring lots of warm clothing, warm sleeping gear, adequate food/drink intake and manage self to avoid getting too cold. This might mean going back to the hut early if you find yourself getting too chilled. Let other party members know if you are starting to get overly cold and they can help you get to shelter. Trip will only go ahead if weather is suitable. 

Dehydration - don't forget to keep drinking water even when it's cold. Electrolyte drinks or sachets can be helpful too. 

Sunburn/Snow blindness - sunscreen and sunglasses essential. 

Blisters - wear well fitted boots, thick socks and tape up early if you feel signs of a hot spot. 

Avalanche risk is low due to angle of terrain but participants are still advised to exercise caution on isolated terrain features that may pose a risk. 

Getting lost - in low snow conditions the track is easy to follow but in deep snow, fog, if it is snowing or poor visibility it can be hard to find the markers and the hut as it is tucked in near some rocks. A GPS on phone or a map is crucial for safely finding the hut in less than perfect conditions as you cannot rely on simply following markers in poor visibility as the tops are very open and rolling with not many landmarks. 


Snowshoes or Ski gear (If there is less snow around and conditions are more icy, a pair of crampons may suffice to get to the hut). The club does have 5 pairs of snowshoes available for hire but it will be first in first served. 

Tramping boots or ski boots

LOTS of warm clothing layers, think thick wool socks, several sets of thermals, fleeces, Puffer jacket or two, waterproof pants and jacket, fleece/wool beanie, waterproof snow gloves. Bear in mind that you will probably need a set of clothing for activity in the snow plus another super warm set of clothing for the hut as it is notoriously cold and there is no heating (though very well kitted out). 

Food for 2 days (breakfast, lunch x2, dinner, snacks)

Gas, cooker, pot, plate/bowl, cultery (we may do a shared meal or meal groups depending on the number of people on the trip overnight).

Winter rated sleeping bag (thermal liner or extra sleeping bag advised as it is VERY cold...have I said that already...snow dropped off boots inside the hut did not thaw during daytime the last time I was there let alone at night)

PLB if you have one (there will be a club one on the trip but more is better)

Personal First Aid kit and any personal medication, sunscreen, sunglasses


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