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: The Scenery
Here’s a video of the views at sunset…
These shots from day 2.
The track to the bushline is no longer maintained by DOC, but a community charity does do work on it.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.