This work follows an upgrade made to the hut’s interior last winter with Jobs for Nature funding, which created jobs for six people over May and June 2020.
DOC Manawatu Supervisor Shaun Ruddle says Sunrise Hut is the most popular hut in the park, with 1023 beds booked between October 2019 and April 2020 and 3344 visitor counts recorded by the track counter between January and December.
“It’s important for us to ensure these much-loved facilities are in great condition for the local community and others to enjoy for years to come. Like any of our visitor sites, the hut and track are subject to the demands of the weather and impacts of ongoing use.
“The main visitors are families, schools, and first-time recreation users looking to challenge their skills or fitness. It’s a popular ‘day visit’ site, trail runners use it for training, and school groups for teaching recreation skills and Duke of Edinburgh training. Hunters also use the track to access more remote areas of the Ruahine forest park.”
The hut was painted by volunteers over four days in February, organised and funded by the Backcountry Trust and a local community group with support from DOC. The paint was provided by Dulux as part of their ongoing partnership with DOC.
Shaun Ruddle says the partnership with volunteer organisations like Backcountry Trust and the business partnership with Dulux are crucial to delivering projects like Sunrise Hut on public conservation land.
Backcountry Trust North Island Project Coordinator Megan Dimozantos says they are pleased to facilitate mahi aroha like this on public conservation land, and this work is often a special experience for their volunteers as well.
“It’s an opportunity for people who enjoy the great outdoors to have a sense of katiakitanga of the places that provide them with recreation opportunities to make sure they are here for generations to come.
“Our volunteers Sally, Ed, Aaron, Helen and Tobias did an exceptional job of the prep work and the painting. We’re really appreciative of their efforts, and the feedback from the outdoors community has been really positive.”
Work on Sunrise Track has reinstated eroded tracks, improved the surface and reduced the chance of standing water with measures like 16 new culverts and 369 meters of side drains. Plans are underway to repaint the roof.
“The hut is looking smart with its new paint, and the improvements last year include a new fireplace, a heat transfer system and refurbished interior painting. The track improvements will allow visitors to focus on the sights and sounds while accessing this great part of the country,” says Shaun Ruddle.