Mt Brown Hut & Summit, Lake Kaniere Scenic Reserve, West Coast NZ

Mt Brown (1270m) is a spectacular West Coast destination for an overnighter, with grand views of mountain ranges, Lake Kaniere and the coast.

Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast

Mt Brown Hut is considered one of the very best locations of any accessible backcountry hut in New Zealand. With a decent weather window one weekend it was time for me to embark on my first ever overnight tramp and check it out. The steep 1000m climb up through beautiful West Coast forest is hard work but rewarding. Once above the tree-line the epic views begin to unfold, with Lake Kaniere and the coast to the east, and numerous mountain ranges to the north south and west. We visited the nearby unnamed summit of Mt Brown (1210m) for extra views; that took about 1 1/4 hours return. The views were an obvious highlight, but the forest was unusually beautiful as well, so if you don’t get the views I think you’ll still enjoy the walk. 

The hut itself is small (four beds) but comfortable. It was already full when we arrived, but camping on a calm and reasonably mild night in autumn was quite nice.

You can also do this walk as a fairly strenuous day-tramp; staying in nearby Hokitika would be a good base for this. As a two day walk it is moderate but slow going on the steep track through the forest. Track notes at the end.

On the drive in you can visit Dorothy Falls just next to the road (arriving from the north-east).

Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
Dorothy Falls is on the drive in and out from Hokitika on the northern side of Lake Kaniere.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
A wide angle shot of Dorothy Falls.

 

Mt Brown Hut & Summit: The Scenery

Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
Lush forest.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
One of my favourite ever forest shots. This version is a touch blurred in the foreground, but I sharpened another version so can potentially print this one day.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
I thought this scene looked a bit like it was under the sea.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
A gnarly old tree at about 900m of elevation.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
Emerging out of the forest and entering the sub-alpine zone.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
Two weka hanging around Mt Brown Hut. I just took this with my phone so you can see how close they were willing to get.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
The weather began to clear about 7:30 so out came my camera. Sophia looking angelic here.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
I developed a halo.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
My camera was bamboozled by the golden lighting, making everything look like it was on fire.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
Lake Kaniere at sunset.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
The last of the sun added a bit of orange to this scene.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
It was a toss up between this and the red gnarly trees for my favourite shots of the trip. That’s the Kokatahi River running to the coast.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
Lake Kaniere and Mt Tuhua (1125m) after sunset.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
I thought I should include a shot of Mt Brown Hut. Our green tent in shot.

These shots from day 2.

Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
Our campsite near Mt Brown Hut.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
Great light in the morning.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
Looking north east past Mt Tuhua.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
Looking south from Mt Brown (1270m).
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
Lake Kaniere and the coast.
Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
A panorama from near the hut looking south.

Track Notes

Mt Brown Hut & Summit, West Coast
On a marked track to the bushline, then a poled route to the hut. Off track along a ridge to the summit (point 1270m).

The track to the bushline is no longer maintained by DOC, but a community charity does do work on it. We found it easy enough to follow. There were some muddy sections, and there’s roughly 1-1.5 kms of very steep ascent on the middle section of the walk. From the bushline the route is poled, then it’s off track along a ridge to get to the summit. There were a few steep drops offs along the way (and some near the hut) so beware in bad visibility. 

There’s more info on Mt Brown Hut, which is privately owned, on the DOC website, but more detailed info on the Remote Huts site. It has four bunks and a long drop toilet. There were a couple of flat spots for camping as well. There’s no charge for staying at the hut but they do ask for a monetary donation/ contribution. It’s first come first served.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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