The September meeting of the Backcountry Trust approved a record number of applications which will go into a programme of work over the coming 2019/20 summer season.
Thirty one projects in total were approved for Round 11 totaling some $334,000 worth of work (including GST).
Twenty five of these projects were either significant hut restoration projects of a hut or catch up hut maintenance projects. To go with the hut renovation projects funded from previous rounds, it is shaping up to be another big season of volunteer work in the backcounty hut network.
Amongst the hut projects are summer maintenance rounds on some of the smaller bivs in the Ruahines, catch up maintenance on the older NZFS huts in the head of the Clyde, Mathias and Lawrence Rivers in Canterbury, and a major rebuild of old Top Forks Hut.
We have some regular hut renovation teams back in action this summer with Bill Barnett's group back in action renovating Roaring Lion Hut in Kahurangi, Permolat Southland have a multi year programme of hut renovations underway and the exNZFS were successful in securing a grant for Stage 1 of the Renata Hut restoration.
There has been a growing interest from new groups wanting to apply for grants from the Trust. Two new groups successful in Round 11 were the Governers Bay Firefighters Group who are doing a major overhaul of McCoy Hut and a local iwi group who have got together to take care of a vandalism hit and run down A-Frame Hut in the Ruahines.
Two significant grants were made to multi year track maintenance projects to Permolat West Coast and the Green Valley Track Group in Dunedin as part of their ongoing commitment to get through the work in their respective regions. A significant grant was also given to the Levin-Waiopehu Club for remedial work on the track to Waiopehu Hut.
A major mountain biking funding initiative for Kaikoura is currently deferred till the next round while more details with the proposal are finalised.
The April 2019 storms on the West Coast did severe damage to some rivers with a major flood event in the Thomas catchment. Seeing this valued hut under threat, DOC Haast moved quickly in May to get in and winch the hut away from its precarious position at the edge of the new riverbank.
This hut had previously been renovated by a volunteer group led by Geoff Spearpoint and he was once again back in the action.
DOC Hokitika did the plans for the new foundations and by 19th of September conditions were right on the coast to get back in to do the work. Colin Morris, the builder involved in the Mingha Biv restoration, came in to oversea the building work and Geoff was joined by volunteers Jane Morris and Hugh van Noorden.
By the next day the new pile holes were already dug and Jeff Rawles from DOC Haast flew in to the site with two Turfor winches. The hut was then dragged on rollers eight meters across to the new site and aligned over the new foundation holes.
The hut was leveled and the new piles tack nailed into position and left freely hanging in the new holes. By the end of this day the concrete was being made on site and the piles cemented into place.
The following day the team continued with concreting in the piles and securing all the fixings, while Colin resited the woodshed and Geoff moved the old concrete step across on rollers.
At the end of three days. One hut saved. One more trip in soon to reattach the important finishing touch of the chimney and fireplace.
If you would like to watch the move, click on this link
One of the more rarely visited huts in the Toaroha Valley on the West Coast, Crystal Biv had been on the Permolat schedule of huts to maintain for some time.
In early Feb 2019, four people from Permolat flew in with new materials that had been pre-prepared by the workshop at DOC Hokitika. The group as accompanied by New Zealand Geographic roving reporter Kennedy Warne, who turned out to be pretty handy with a hammer and saw himself, who was putting together a story on the hut renovation work.
On the first day the biv was deconstructed and stripped right back to the frame. The rotten back wall and window was removed along with the rotten section of flooring. Day two saw Andrew Buglass and Joke de Rijke headed off to recut the track down to the valley, while the rest of the group got stuck into repairing the frame. Extra bracing and roof rafters were added for increased strength.
The next day the building was wrapped and the new cladding went on. On the sides of the biv the three small panels that had opened up and been leaking were replaced with one clean sheet. Minimal fixings were used to maximise future weather tightness. Just before the last light faded, new roof underlay went on.
The following day was brilliant fine weather, but it was the calm before an approaching storm. The roof went on quickly despite one lot of upturns having to be done twice, and the rear window trim finished. The 12mm internal ply was screwed on to three walls to add a significant amount of structural bracing to this alpine biv which, like a lot of this era of bivs, is a bit wobbly once the cladding is off.
The race against time and weather got a bit nervous as Andersons’ were a pilot down with Fletch off fighting the Nelson forest fire, but Freddy managed to squeeze in the flights to get us before driving up there himself to help out with this bigger problem.
Not all jobs were finished though. A few weeks later Mike Lagan and Jeff Hitchcock flew in on a hunting trip with some recycled DOC mattresses, a nice shiny new bench so people aren’t tempted to light burners on the floor, and some extra piles. After a combined 275 hours worked by 7 volunteers, the job is completed. Another one on Permolat’s list done and dusted. And what a magic spot it is up there on the side of the Toaroha Range.
A big thank you extended to DOC Hokitika builder, Nigel Schroder, who got his team to prep some of the materials and came out with his son George on Waitangi Day to help do the road end loading for the helicopter.
More on this rebuild can be seen at the New Zealand Geographic website:
It's that time of the year again to start getting your Backcountry Trust 2019/20 summer project bid in. The summer of 2018/19 was highly successful with volunteer groups getting through an impressive bundle of work in between some challenging weather cycles. As a result of people seeing the impact of all that good work, there has been alot of interest from new groups and a growing enthusiasm to roll up the sleeves and get some work done. We have more funds available for next summer so there has never been a better time to get together a group of friends and get a project up and running. In addition to the normal round of funding we are going to make a further round of funds available specifically for groups wanting to participate in a a Labour weekend track cutting bonanza. Stay tuned.
Built around 1965 on Wyuna Station near the Shotover River, Stoney Creek Hut was originally built for goat control in the area. When the station went through Tenure Review a few years back, this unusual Dexion framed hut came across to the public network but had received no maintenance in that time until Mike Lagan and others visited in 2014 and resolved to put together a project to restore it.
Mike secured funding in Round 9 and along with Alan Stout, Ed Anscombe, Alan McLeod and Neale Dale went in on March the 10th 2019 with 820kg of materials and gear. Over the next week they replaced the roof, gutted the hut and replaced the rat eaten pinex lining with ply, rebuilt the bunks and fireplace and added a new toilet and woodshed. Nearly 600 hours of volunteer labour were required to rebuild the hut to a high quality and now ready to get more visits than this unique hunting opportunity has been receiving in the past few years.
It is shaping up to be a busy 2018/19 summer for volunteer groups that have already applied for funding from the Backcountry Trust. There is usually a good few months lead time to get organised for a project to run successfully and now is the perfect time to plan ahead for spring 2019. Successful applications for Round 10 will be notified in late March leaving plenty of time to plan for those fine weather spells of spring. For more information go to our applications page:
Spring is in the air and now is the perfect time to get your application in for that summer hut or track project. The Backcountry Trust has many projects in the pipeline for this summer but is seeking applications from volunteer groups looking to undertake work this summer. Successful applications will be notified in October leaving plenty of time to plan for those fine weather spells of summer. For more information go to our applications page:
Some volunteer groups wait for the perfect weather forecast, and others just go for it and hope for the best. A group led by Tom Hayes of Christchurch went in last weekend to Healey Creek Hut to start the renovation of this West Coast hut. The maintenance issues on the hut had been known for a while. New piles needed, new roof, and a more reliable source of water with the installation of a new water tank. Braving robust West Coast autumn weather, the team managed to get the new roof on and build the new tank stand and get it all hooked up with the tank. A start was made on getting the new piles in place but will need another trip to finish. Tom reported the hut was still in pretty good condition despite the old leaking roof and should now be water tight for another 50 years.