Department of Conservation ranger Stew Hardie has a slightly
different brief to that of his fellow rangers - he is one of
the custodians of the Wakatipu's priceless heritage from its
gold and scheelite mining days.
Mr Hardie and long-time workmate Dave Murfin have just
completed six months of restoration and maintenance of the
Bonnie Jean hut, McIntyres hut and Wallers hut, on the rugged
9000ha Whakaari Conservation Area near Glenorchy.
They also restored faithfully the Skippers homestead,
Macetown and Arrowtown Chinese Settlement over summer,
working closely with heritage groups and the Historic Places
The popular Skippers homestead was given a much-needed lick
of paint in original heritage colours. Mr Hardie, Mr Murfin
and three volunteers from the Doc conservation holiday
programme applied fresh coats to the roof, window frames and
"It desperately needed painting to protect the timbers from
rotting," Mr Hardie said. "The roof hadn't been painted since
I did it in 1995."
Mr Murfin and Mr Hardie then turned their attention to the
Chinese settlement. A hut fashioned by a Chinese miner
between 1870 and 1890 was damaged when an adjacent structure
caught fire three years ago, and the hut was scheduled for a
"We rebuilt that particular hut completely with recycled
beech timber, calico for the roof and cladding. It's fairly
rough. Chinese miners built their dwellings out of what
Europeans threw away; or [they] made do with what was lying
The team installed picket fences around a recently discovered
cemetery in Macetown last October. Information panels were
planned for next year.
The Bonnie Jean hut is now fully restored, with historical
artefacts displayed behind a locked grille.
Mr Hardie said Wallers Hut, on a lonely unmarked spur more
than a day's tramp from the Queenstown-Glenorchy road, was
restored and maintained for the first time.
The work involved flying out a digger for drainage
excavation, stabilisation, waterproofing and a new chimney.
The hut would be in good condition for the next 20 years, Mr
"Wallers to me was a real New Zealand experience because it's
right on the edge of the beech forest and built out of the
wood. The bunk was sacks stuffed with tussocks, and there
were newspapers reporting World War 2, and a clay pipe in the
fireplace, which we've let our archaeologists in Dunedin know
McIntyres hut, dating back to the 1960s, was braced, cut in
half at the apex then moved by helicopter down to a sheltered
area for conversion into a trampers' facility.
"We replaced the rotten wooden plate, then, back onsite up
the hill, we built new foundations designed by Doc engineer
Tim Cross," Mr Hardie said.
"When all that was in place, we flew the hut back up, and
bolted it back together; then lined the hut with polystyrene
McIntyres was transformed from a dirt floor shack
accommodating a dead possum and a foul smell into a five-bunk
trampers' hut with water tank and long drop.
Mr Hardie emigrated from England in 1970 and has worked for
Doc in Queenstown over the past 20 years. He came to New
Zealand as an apprentice joiner and naturally gravitated to
working on the historic structures on land administered by
The two men will return for the next six-month work programme
on October 10. Maintenance of Skippers, Macetown and
pre-season repairs to the Chinese settlement are planned,
along with rebuilding Heather Jock and McIntosh huts,
excavating the rear wall, and weatherproofing Boozer hut.
"It's great satisfaction . . . It's the whole organising of
the job, flying the gear, the challenges of remote areas. The
feedback is great and we need to preserve as much as we can."