Ruataniwha Conservation Park, Canterbury – September 2021
One of the more beautiful valleys on the eastern side of Kā Tiritiri o te Moana / the Southern Alps is the Huxley, a major tributary of the Hopkins River, near Lake Ōhau.
On a pleasant, open grassy flat at the junction of the two main branches is Huxley Forks, with two huts. The first (smaller) hut was built for deer cullers in 1955. The New Zealand Forest Service built a second hut at Huxley Forks Hut in 1970, sometimes known as the ‘main Huxley Forks Hut’ (8 bunks). Just over 10 years ago, DOC did a major renovation of the exterior, but unfortunately the funding was unavailable to finish the interior.
In late September 2021 a Kaimahi for Nature team of builders went in with 1.8 tonnes in material and gear to finish the job. One of the effects of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic (especially the current restrictions in Auckland), is a short supply of building materials around the country. This sometimes badly affects the normal workflow for urban building jobs, even outside of Auckland. In some cases, the BCT has been able to engage builders for short-term building work, while they wait for their urban projects to start again.
Builders Clint Jarvis, Mark Williamson, Hedley Wilton worked for five long days to strip out the interior of the hut, restore the concrete hearth and reline the hut, build new bench bunks and install the new Wagener Cooktop woodburner. At the same time, the exterior of the hut was re-oiled and new windows were installed in the bunk area to allow more interior light.
The team were also joined by DOC ranger Brendon Clark from Wanaka who toiled for the week digging a new toilet hole. He replaced a very old long drop with a new one that he had pre-made in the workshop.
Stage two, planned for later in the season, is to replace the water tank and woodshed.
The much-loved Huxley Forks Hut is popular with hunters in the area looking for tahr, chamois and red deer, young families on more adventurous trips in the area and an increasing number of pack-rafters wanting to paddle the fun section of the Huxley River or head over Brodrick Pass to the Landsborough. It’s reached on a 3-hour walk from Monument Hut (accessible by 4WD) or otherwise about 6 hours from the Ram Hill carpark.