Kirtle Burn Hut Trip, New Zealand


In August 2012, a crew of Cardrona instructors went for an overnight hut trip at the Kirtle Burn Hut in the Pisa Range of New Zealand. The Pisa Range is a group of rolling hills located across the valley from Cardrona Ski Resort. Looking at the Pisa Range every day while working  at Cardrona, made for a good excuse to go and explore the range with an overnight hut trip.

Kirtle Burn Hut
Kirtle Burn Hut

On August 9, Mia Lennon, Scott Palmer, Charlotte Crawley, and I piled into our 1991 Subaru Legacy and left Wanaka in our rearview mirror. We cruised up the Cardrona Valley road past endless fields of sheep. Eventually we took a turn up the road toward Snow Farm – New Zealand’s premier cross-country resort and the now closed Snow Park resort. Snow Farm boasts 40km of groomed cross country trails. On the far side of the groomed trails, the rolling Pisa Range blends into the horizon. We took our time skiing along the x-country trails and eventually turned up a drainage toward the Kirtle Burn Hut. The ski tour was filled with transitions as we rolled over the landscape. There were a few turns to be had between tussocks of grass. As we approached the hut, we enjoyed some low angle pow turns.

Low Angle Pow

The Kirtle Burn Hut was my first NZ hut experience. NZ huts are run and maintained by the Department of Conservation. The Kirtle Burn hut was established in 1982 – the same year that I was born. They run an incredible system of huts throughout the entire country so that people can get out and enjoy the mountains. What a great idea! The Kirtle Burn hut was nice and include 7 bunks. There was no one else there so the four of us had the place to ourselves. After taking a break at the hut, we put on the skins and did a sunset tour session toward Mount Pisa – the crown of the range at 1964 m or 6443 ft. The sunset over the mountains to the west was incredible. It was great to see both Cardrona Ski Resort and other prominent landmarks in the distance including Mt. Cardrona, my regular touring destination, at 1934 m or 6345ft. As the sun set, we made more low angle pow turns around some sheep fences and boulders strewn around the landscape. In the distance there looked to be some fun things to ski.

Is that Cardrona over there?

The next morning’s ski out was as uneventful as the ski in. More rolling hills, downhill skinning, and low angle pow turns. When we got back to Snow Farm, the Subaru was a welcome site, and we quickly head to Red Star in Wanaka (it’s no Ferg Burger, but it will do.) The Kirtle Burn hut trip was fun, but I don’t think I would return to the hut as the skiing was very mellow. Destination: Kirtle Burn Hut, Pisa Range, New Zealand Hut Elevation: 1680 m NZ Topo: Cardrona Resources:

Enjoy some of this photo gallery from the Kirtle Burn Hut trip:

You need Google Earth to view the following map:

The Kirtle Burn Hut Trip took place August 9-10, 2012.