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Ski Touring the Mountain Turks: Mahu Whenua Traverse

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A few years ago I got a message from my mother in law telling me about the Mahu Whenua Traverse – Mountain Turk Club

Erik Bradshaw created a club to build mountain huts out of water tanks opening up a world-class alpine traverse along the backbone of the Harris mountains that connect Wanaka and Queenstown.

We had done a few ski touring trips and my mates were gearing up so we could do some more.

The route is just over 40km and has a fair bit of up and down 4000 vertical meters more than Aoraki Mt Cook the highest mountain in Aotearoa. It also provides lots of time with skis on your back.
The route offers a world-class, alpine traverse. Routes like this are popular in Europe and North America and provide a “once in a lifetime” experience of staying in high mountain huts.
The traverse runs along the backbone of the Harris Mountains – the terrain here is perfect for backcountry skiing as it offers enough excitement without excessive risk from steep country and glacier travel. 
With the established 5 huts, you will never be too far from safe shelter should weather conditions deteriorate.


The hut’s design is based around the highly effective use of a large plastic water tank. Using this structure avoids many of the problems associated with standard construction techniques in the alpine environment. The design has proved to be strong, light enough for easy movement by helicopter and rugged enough to withstand the alpine environment.

Turks are very cosy, there’s something appealing about the round shape with warm plywood and felt interior. There is even an armchair for a bit of reading and an afternoon snooze 

The Crew

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