Room with a view: One of the five Turk Huts installed along the Mahu Whenua Traverse


After three years of dreaming, wrestling red tape and hard graft, an Arrowtown adventurer’s vision of a ski touring route from Coronet Peak to Treble Cone has been

Erik Bradshaw and a team of 15 people and three helicopters dropped in the final two
‘Mountain Turk’ huts along the Mahu Whenua Traverse last Thursday.

They completed a line of five insulated, four-bunk huts — built using plastic water tanks as a shell — that’ll provide shelter for ski tourers and summertime trampers on a 45km route crossing Coronet Peak Station and public conservation land.

Bradshaw says he’s ‘‘elated’’ after dedicating himself to the project for the best part of two years, and hopes to complete the traverse with his family during the coming school holidays before the snow melts.

He came up with the idea about three years ago, and ‘‘mulled it over’’ for about a year before sounding out Coronet Peak Station manager Russell Hamilton.

‘‘He came back straight away and said, ‘it’s brilliant, go for it’.

‘‘It seemed like a long process, especially the first year, but anyone who has experience of these things says, ‘it’s a miracle you’ve pulled this off in two years’.’’

Bradshaw designed the huts as well as their separate toilets, and founded the Mountain Turk Club in February to help turn the dream into reality.

Priceless spot: A newly-installed Mountain Turk on the Motatapu Saddle, looking west along Polnoon Burn

It now has about 300 members across the country who’ve either contributed time, materials or money to the project.

He says he never expected the amount of work or complexity involved in getting a resource
consent for the huts and a permit from Land Information NZ.

On the flipside, he’s discovered a deep well of skilled and enthusiastic people with a
readiness to ‘‘grasp on to a good idea’’.

‘‘You learn about the bureaucratic side of it, but also about the incredibly talented and committed people who suddenly turn up and say, ‘I’m keen to help’.’’

The five huts are located at Coronet Saddle, Vanguard Peak, Mt St Just, Mt Hyde and Motatapu Saddle, while a sixth Turk that’s not part of the Traverse sits on Mt Sale, above Arrowtown.

They’ll be managed by an online booking system for use by club members, but Bradshaw doesn’t want the club to become an exclusive one.

Instead he hopes its blueprint can be applied to create new opportunities for people, particularly the young, to enjoy the high country.

He’s planning an annual meeting of the club on October 28 to celebrate the achievement and consider the next project.