'Brazen' thieves steal fireplace from Marlborough backcountry hut
SUPPLIEDThe theft from Barbers Hut is the first time a fireplace has been stolen from a hut in Marlborough, DOC says.
Trampers have been left cold and confused after "brazen" thieves stole a fireplace from a backcountry hut in Marlborough, the Department of Conservation says.
The cast-iron pot belly stove was the only source of heat in the remote Barbers Hut, about 70 kilometres west of Blenheim, which had only four-wheel-drive access.
The theft marks the first time a fireplace has been stolen from a backcountry hut in Marlborough.
DOCTo reach Barbers Hut: turn onto Leatham Rd from State Highway 63, approximately 70km west of Blenheim.
DOC Wairau Renwick community ranger Clare Moore said she could not understand why someone would steal a fireplace from a DOC hut.
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"People have taken axes before, and that's a real nuisance. But to have people, who are obviously outdoors people, steal a fireplace is hard to understand," she said.
SUPPLIEDThe backcountry Barbers Hut, in the Leatham Valley, can only be accessed by 4WD.
"Especially coming into this time of year, it is a brazen act."
The bulky fireplace, weighing about 50 kilograms, would have required more than one person to move it from the hut into a vehicle, Moore said.
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SUPPLIEDThis cast-iron fireplace design is popular throughout huts in Marlborough, and is estimated to weigh about 50 kilograms.
Hut users reported the fireplace missing last month and it was still not known who had taken it.
The fireplace was worth about $5000, but DOC installed a replacement from additional parts last week.
Barbers Hut was a standard six-bunk hut in the Wairau Valley, off State Highway 63, popular with both trampers and hunters throughout the year.
SUPPLIEDBarbers Hut is a standard, six-bunk hut in south Marlborough.
Cooler conditions were beginning to set in across the country, which made it especially difficult to understand why the theft happened, Moore said.
"If you've been walking all day in the rain and [you] are wet, this can make a huge difference. It can be really important," she said.
Marlborough had more than 60 backcountry huts to maintain and vandalism such as this took a toll, Moore said.
"From our point of view we are trying to maintain these huts in a serviceable condition with limited resources," she said.
"It's difficult when things like this happen. If we have to put money to things like this it takes away from other services.
"We're asking people to have a bit of respect for the stuff everybody pays for with their taxes."
- The Marlborough Express