Friday, February 26, 2016

Hut 02 - Carrington

There would be very few trampers and mountaineers that have not spent at least one night at Carrington Hut.
It is positioned at the junction of the Waimakariri and White rivers in Arthurs Pass National Park, and is a strategic hut for trampers and mountaineers alike. Further up valley is the Barker hut (see Huts 01) and Waimak Falls hut (a future blog) - both stepping off points for serious climbing and also remote tramping. Harrington hut is the first stopping place on the Three Pass Trip from Klondyke Corner to Hokitika.

The second Carrington hut
This hut (above) is the hut I first remember. My first foray up the Waimak was about 1961-2 at the ripe old age of 13-14. It was the second hut at the junction. The first hut was located further out towards the Waimak riverbed and was washed away in a flood. It was built in 1929 and named after Gerard Carrington who was co-instumental in forming what was to become the Canterbury Mountaineering Club (which I joined in 1964 and have been a member ever since). Sadly he was drowned in the Waimak gorge before the hut was completed. The hut above replaced the original hut and sat up on a terrace well away from flooding.
Below this second hut there was a small four bunk NZFS (New Zealand Forest Service) hut (see below) - a handy overflow hut, especially at Easter in the 1960s when there was always an Easter Climbing School run by the CMC. I have spent a night in this four bunk hut with eleven trampers crammed inside. My 'bunk' was up in the rafters lying on a climbing rope wrapped around the rafters. A very uncomfortable night!!

NZFS hut below Carrington hut - November 1967
Sadly both these huts have long gone, and been replaced by the current Carrington hut, a Lockwood design, and capable of hosting many trampers and climbers.

The current Carrington hut
Whilst this hut is perfect for large parties visiting the upper Waimak - and I have no doubt that some busy weekends it is full to capacity with tents pitched close by. For me, it is a soulless dwelling - it echoes with every footstep inside - and will never have that character that many remote and older back country huts have. The smell, the stories in the old hut books, the writing on the walls (not graffiti). But still, it does provide a refuge on a stormy night and it is a stepping stone to remoter places up valley.
In this hut's early days, it had a sign above the entrance saying 'Carrington Hilton'. Sadly, the Hilton hotel chain had no sense of humour and after a court case, the sign had to be removed!
A think I may as well complete the Waimakariri huts in the near future so watch this space.


  1. Ahhhh, nostalgia is a very fine thing. I have some very fine memories of that Carrington Hut up on the terrace - both inside and out. One day?

  2. Yes, me too big brother. I have memories of bunks possibly four high. And one dinner time when my very first primus stove blew up and everyone except me fled out of the hut. Oh yes , the stove - the hut one I mean. It stuck way out into the room - an 'interesting' contraption. Possibly a Gordon Buchanan engineering construction!! Remember him? LB

    1. Yes, I feel a blog on Carrington coming on - maybe when the weather gets cooler.

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