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A Bunk For The Night by Shaun Barnett, Rob Brown and Geoff Spearpoint

Updated: Oct 25, 2021

A Bunk For The Night is a reprisal and re-release of the 2016 release of the same name.

Backcountry exploring and tramping has long been in the top selection of outdoor activities for Kiwis. From the central plateau to the great walks of the South Island, we are a nation of intrepid journeyers. Aligned with this exertion is the requirement for a comfortable and certainly affordable place to lay one’s head.

Enter three authors - Shaun Barnett, Geoff Spearpoint and Rob Brown - all of whom are well-known to the tramping community after their 2012 production of the best seller Shelter from the Storm. Their new offering, A Bunk for the Night celebrates the lifestyle of kiwis and offers options for trampers of all levels as they traverse the wilderness of Aotearoa. It is a guidebook that documents hundreds of DoC cabins strategically located around the nation adjacent to many of New Zealand’s finest walking trails.

But more than a guidebook, A Bunk for the Night is a testament to the carefree spirit of our nation and captures beautiful images from these award winning photographers. In some ways it acts as much of a coffee table book as much as a guide or reference resource. Nestled among the native bush or the splendour of majestic mountain ranges, the huts range from basic to rustic to outright luxurious - Turere Lodge looks more like something from a postcard more than a DoC hut.

The co-authors show a belief that the huts are more than just shelter, they are part of the landscape, part of the documented history of the area and, collectively, the nation. In each of the huts is a book, testament to a sort of extended visitor’s book where stories are collected, shared and enjoyed. A Bunk For The Night feels like a series of entries in one of these visitor’s books from around the famous tracks of New Zealand.

Almost ironically, there are very few photos of the interiors of these huts so the ‘Bunks’ promised in the title are not overly forthcoming. One can imagine dormitories look pretty similar no matter where they are in the world. Perhaps that is the concession made by the authors.

Over 200 huts from Aotearoa are given its due thought and consideration with instructions for how to find them, best times of the year to visit, the range of amenities supplied and the best way to secure your place (hint: they are not all available to the public, some will need association with the local tramping club).

Included in the write ups are anecdotes and wonderful hints and suggestions on best courses for action for each hut. A significant amount of work has gone into the preparation of this book with detailed evidence thus championing the opportunities offered to kiwis through these huts. One can begin to understand why it is has been nearly 10 years since the last offering from these three - the planning and strategic documenting of the huts must have been a mammoth undertaking.

In talking about the book, co-author Barnett mused, “I began to realise what they represented, and that was history, really. The history of how the backcountry was used, the many different architectural styles, and the stories that they gather, because they’re a place where people stop for the night. They talk, they tell stories.”

The care and attention afforded to each of the huts and the historical significance of the sport is remarkable.

A must for anyone interested in the sport of tramping, the joys of the outdoors or just a darn good yarn about this beautiful nation complete with the images to boot.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Potton & Burton


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