Much of the work done by the MTB Trails Trust has been with hand tools to repair the sections that had been damaged as far back as 2013 floods. Local DOC rangers have come in to help where any blasting work was required to re-route the track.
One section of the track goes through a section of old Nelson Forest land which is planted with Douglas Firs. While these have been deemed uneconomic to log, the potential for them to spread means they need to be removed at some stage and the MTB Trails Trust is waiting for a decision on this before completing the final section of this project.
Healey Creek Hut is in a strategic location at the start of the Galena Ridge on one of the routes into Ivory Lake. Permolat had identified that the hut had slipped off some of its piles and was leaking. In mid April 2018 Tom Hayes of Christchurch got a group together to take on the work. Jane Morris, John Milne, Geoff Spearpoint, Andrew Buglass and Rhys Bowden, joined him on the first work party and over the next few days lifted the roof, replaced the building paper and barge caps, prepped the window frames for paint, while others got on with recutting the access tracks.
Over the following days they replaced some piles, finished the new roof, and installed a new tank stand. The weather for some of this was the usual West Coast affair with the team working through a mix of rain and clag.
Work commitments meant that Tom wasn’t able to get another group in there until late April 2019. Joining him this time were John Milne and Melanie Jarratt. They replaced the remainder of the piles, and painted the exterior.
On this trip the group had no problem with early morning starts, courtesy of a few cheeky Kea in the area. At times there were up to 11 Kea watching the group carry on with the hut restoration. A further two piles were replaced before a heavy mist rolled in, and the remaining work, building a picnic table, drain clearing, some leftover sections of piles painted red and placed in the final 15 minute section of track leading up to the hut, were all completed in the afternoon clag.
With the clag hanging around the following day, it remained too cold to paint, so major cleaning inside the hut was done and the broken window louvre was fixed. Rubbish was sorted and packed in preparation for being removed, and with the weather report predicting worse weather to come, the group were flown out before the weather turned.
Tom has plans to walk back up to the hut sometime over summer 2020, when the weather is looking fine, to tidy up a few remaining jobs, but in the meantime Healey Creek Hut is looking a million dollars again. Thanks for all your hard work on this Tom. All up, both work parties did approximately 410 hours onsite over the two trips, with the total cost of the project, including materials and helicopter transport, around $6,500. Thanks also to Fletcher Anderson at Andersons Helicopters in Hokitika for continuing to work out cost effective ways to get groups into some of these places to get the work done.
Back in 2018 the DOC Wanaka office informed us that they were contemplating demolishing the old Top Forks Hut at the head of the Wilkin Valley in Mt Aspiring National Park.
Built in 1960 by deer culler and local Makarora pilot Alan Duncan, the hut pre dated the establishment of the park in 1964 and was built as a joint venture with Mt Albert Station as a base for venison recovery, recreation and mustering the head of the valley. It was a link with the heritage of the park we thought was worth saving.
The hut had been extremely well built out of heart rimu, on concrete piles, however poor maintenance and leaking cladding and flashings had led to the east and west walls becoming quite rotten. It was also originally a 4 bunk hut which due to demand had been converted to 6 short bunks. So any restoration had a number of issues to deal with in a location that sees a bit of summer demand from tramping groups to this part of the National Park.
Any rebuild involving an extension to deal with the bunk issue would need a building consent and proper design, so we contracted Red Gecko Design of Wanaka to fulfill the brief of a design that carried forward the heritage of the hut, and at the same time resulted in a building that would meet the 50 year building code test for the future. Black Peak Carpentry of Hawea were contracted to do the rebuild and over the next 16 days Zdenek and Will, with the help of a couple of others at various times, would demolish the old hut down to the floor and completely rebuild the new 8 bunk hut.
The build was finished late November 2019, but due to an unseasonably bad start to summer it was January the 2nd 2020 before the Upper Clutha Tramping Club could get in to finish the interior and exterior painting of the new hut. Assisted by Chris Milne and Graeme Stretch, the group took three full days to finish all the painting as well as make a start on a couple of tidy up jobs on the Lands & Survey park hut that was built in 1979. The Upper Clutha Tramping Club also donated $1,000 towards the project, Dulux supplied the paint, and Alpine Helicopters and Minaret Station provided free transport to get the initial three tonnes of material out to the road end as well as a very good deal on the heavy lift with their B3 Squirrel.
All up, volunteers put in some 330 hours of their own time to assist the contractors getting the technical work done and the total cost of the project including materials, labour and helicopter transport was around $55,000
The project was finally underway in November 2019 and seven volunteers spent four days onsite constructing the new foundations and winching the biv back onto the new secure subfloor. The team included Kerry Clapham, Martin Clapham, Kerry Millard, Phil Bones, William Osborne, Stefan Warnaar, Jan Clayton-Greene.
Once onsite, the group’s builder, Kerry Millard, measured up the new pile holes while the rest of the crew started on digging the pile holes. Six new piles, bracing and bearers were constructed directly adjacent to the biv. When the foundations were secure, the biv was lifted using highlift jacks. A safety sling anchored to a large uphill tree was looped around the biv and it was lifted around 50mm on the downwards side and a temporary bearer for the biv to sit on. The original foundations were then demolished and the team continued the careful task of lifting the biv alternating down and up hill sides until the biv was raised 250mm onto the new foundation height.
Many thanks to all the generous volunteers and sponsors, Phil Crawford of DoC Nelson Lakes, Marlborough Tramping Club, Otago and Canterbury University Tramping Clubs, and everyone who helped to bring the project to completion.
The 49 kilometre Wangapeka Track has five huts along its length, two bivs and one historic hut (Cecil Kings Hut). The mid way point is the 10 bunk Helicopter Flat Hut which started life in 1963 as a standard S70 NZFS hut. Over time it has been enlarged and modified to cope with the increasing use of Kahurangi National Park for recreation.
In Round 9 the Backcountry Trust funded a modest maintenance project for a retired building team led by Bill Barnett. As part of this it was also decided to reduce the bunks from 10 to 8 to better reflect the use patterns on the Wangapeka and make the hut a little more open and less crammed.
The team had great support from the local DOC Motueka office with the senior ranger Tom Young organising storage for packing up the materials and providing onsite support equipment like generators, ladders and working at heights kits. The local ITM in Motueka supplied the materials at 50 percent off and another local business generously donated the cladding for the new woodshed.
The first work party went in on the 4th of March for four days and completed the bulk of the work. A new woodshed was constructed by one half of the team on the first day. Piles and a floor were installed and the premade woodshed moved onto this and fixed to the subfloor.
Back in early Winter 2019 Alastair Campbell got a group together from Permolat Southland to carry out the catch up maintenance on Caroline Hut on the shores of Lake Hauroko in Fiordland National Park.
The hut was built in the 1960s by a group from the local NZDA Branch using native timber from the local Tuatapere Mill. Over time the hut has developed a few issues including a number of floor joists that had been badly affected by borer and had subsequently fractured. The roof was also leaking.
The group did seven days in total on the project with a total of 8 volunteers contributing over 320 hours work. Access to the hut, including the transport of all the materials, was via boat up Lake Hauroko.
The group split into two with the first team replacing the roof, building a new verandah over the front entry as well as a new tank stand for a new tank and sink. A new stainless steel bench was also installed.
The second team worked on the subfloor with the hut having to be jacked up so that nine joists could be replaced. The subfloor was also treated with Metalex timber preserver.
Alastair and more volunteers from Permolat Southland will be back in this summer to finish the exterior and interior painting to complete another excellent project from this group in the south.
The Backcountry Trust has been an ongoing supporter of the improvement and maintenance of the Mountain Biking trail network in Craigieburn Forest Park.
To date we have funded some $69,000 worth of work on a variety of trails in the network. This work has ranged from smaller projects such as the replacement of a small bridge on the Luge Track, through to bigger works, like contractors to repair and realign parts of the Hogs Back and Dracophyllum tracks.
The contractor work with diggers is sometimes mixed in with the hand tool work by volunteers and shows the way it can be a perfectly workable model to get different groups working together to safely carry out some maintenance or trail improvement.
The Craigieburn Trails have their own website and provide regular updates on the trail status. After this very wet spring, many of the trails are currently closed to prevent degradation, but as soon as things dry out a bit more they'll be good to go for enduro peddling.
There are tracks for varying rider skill and experience in the network from grades 2 – 5 and the Backcountry Trust is proud to be supporting this as one of the many groups helping to maintain this unique backcountry mountain biking experience. A lot of this work, and the whole vision for this recreational opportunity, is driven by the local Castle Hill Community who are passionate about the potential for backcountry mountain biking in this part of the South Island.
Campbell Biv is one of the least visited and most remote of the West Coast huts located, on a scrubby spur high above the Arahura River. Built in 1958, it was designated for removal in the 2003/4 Recreation Opportunities Review but no one seemed to have got around to doing it. After 30 years of zero maintenance it was starting to deteriorate rapidly when Paul Reid of Permolat decided to take on it's restoration.
In 2017 Paul Reid and Alan Jemison used a grant from the Backcountry Trust to go in and do some emergency remedial work but in the process of this it was decided that the rot had become so bad that it was in need of a complete rebuild.
In March 2019 Alan and Paul flew in with Andre Winkleman and Wade Phelps, and the team did a complete rebuild of this biv over three and a half days.
The biv was completely dismantled and the frame lifted off and put to the side while a complete new subframe was built on new piles. The old floor was replaced and repaired and a new frame was largely rebuilt with only the sound bits of the original being recycled into the new.
To complete the rebuild, the old flat tin galv cladding which was in excellent condition was reinstalled and the old bunks and small cooking bench fitted in to their original location.
Thanks Paul and team for your commitment to this remote hut. A faithful restoration of what is one of the older bivs of this model left on the West Coast.
In late summer 2019 the Mount Cook Residents Association completed the routine maintenance on Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park's oldest hut – Sefton Biv. This small corrugated iron biv was built in 1917 by Peter Graham who was then chief guide at the Hermitage.
Perched on the crest of a spur that leads up to Mt Sefton and the Footstool, it is a kea's nest of a site with a panoramic view back to the Hermitage and the Mueller Glacier all the way around to the Hooker Valley and Aoraki.
The team was organised by Pip Walter who, along with her partner Simon Middlemass, are the current wardens at Unwin Hut. The team also included a couple of off duty DOC rangers and current FMC President Jan Finlayson.
After a couple of false starts with the weather, the team finally nailed a perfect weekend of weather to get the job done.
A cherished hut, amongst our highest mountains, being looked after by the locals, putting something back in to look after their backyard.
Army Hut in the Snowdon Conservation Area had fallen into disrepair in recent years and had some severe borer and rot issues. Permolat Southland decided to take on this challenging project and was granted a total of $12,000 in Round 7 to complete the job.
The hut was resting on rotting beach logs and the entire floor and sub frame of the hut had to be removed and replaced with new timber and piles. The replacement floor was a 19mm marine grade floor used in many modern huts. The fireplace was also removed and it was replaced with a new wood burner.
All the old lining in the hut was also stripped out and replaced with 7mm ply which was painted white. The old louvre windows were repaired and sandfly proofed and the hut was fully refitted on the interior.
A new woodshed was built replacing the one which had been attached to the hut which like many of these sorts of additions created problems on the hut itself.
The restoration involved nine volunteers in total who worked a total of over 500 hours on the six day mission. This was a great first project for Permolat Southland and a big thanks to Alastair Macdonald for organising this project.
Richard Janssen has set the standard with renovating the classic Canterbury version of the stand-up 2-person NZFS biv. In Round 5 of the funding, he was granted $10,000 to restore the neglected Mackenzie Biv in Lake Sumner Forest Park. Not only did they completely renovate the biv, including re-roofing the hut and restoring the small open fire, but they also built a toilet and woodshed for the hut. The work, pride and effort he and Al Kircher put into the restoration of this biv will take some beating. The open fireplaces of these little bivs are a unique feature but many are past it now and need restoring and Richard and Al show how to do it here so that the bivs retain their historic character but will be good to go for the next generation.
It's been a multi year project, but the restoration of one of the more remote huts on the West Coast, Frisco Hut high above Frisco Gorge on the Hokitika River, is complete. Paul Reid has masterminded this project which has involved many keen people from the Permolat Group on multiple work parties. The last group built a small woodshed for the new wood burner, cleared some more of the vegetation around the hut and painted the hut. This hut hadn't seen maintenance in many years and had become run down but is in a gem of a spot and with the work the group has done on the tracks in the area it is more accessible than ever to trampers used to this sort of West Coast country.
Pete Hurst and the Horse Trails South Trust have completed some great work over this past summer to restore the historic Amuri Pass Pack Track for trampers, hunters and horse riders.
This pack track had not been maintained for years and the team has been clearing vegetation and wind falls over some 57km of track between the Doubtful River near Lewis Pass and the Waiheke River on the West Coast. There has been a lot to organise for this with a 3 ton digger and fuel having to be transported up the West Coast side, specialist arbourists to come in and clear the bigger trees, as well as the volunteers that have put in some 550 hours of their time and labour over summer.
Pete reports that the Canterbury side of the track is finished, and included rerouting the existing tramping track back to the original benched track on the east side of the pass to avoid the swampy section on the pass itself. Horse paddocks have been completed at the historic Slaty Creek Hut as well as at Doubtful Hut on the Canterbury side.
With a little bit more to go this spring between Torrent Creek and the pass, the digger and unimog have been ‘winterised’ onsite and the team will go in again in September to finish the job. A fantastic achievement by this group to maintain this 57km of track. For more photos check out the HTST facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HTSTNZ2017/
The Wanaka Faces hut recently restored by members of the Upper Clutha Deerstalkers, with support from the Department of Conservation, was originally built in the 1930’s as musterers accommodation for Glen Dene Station… read more here: Wanaka Faces Report
Back before the weather started making things a bit tricky. Mike Lagan and other members of the South Canterbury Recreational Sportsman’s Club got into Mistakes Flat Hut a few times to get a few things sorted out. Read their full report, including some interesting history about this hut here: Mistakes Flat Report
The Outdoor Recreation Consortium is all about local people caring for the places they love, and it has been great to be able to support Anne Meyer, Beverley Johnson and Max Polglase and Beverley Johnson adopt the Kill Devil carpark, the entrance to a true backcountry paradise.
The Kill Devil carpark is the gateway to the Waingaro River/Stanley river/Anatoki circuit, which has features like Riordans Hut, Waingaro Forks Hut, Soper Shelter and Lonely Lake Hut (a side trip). The whole area is a tribute to the local community (including DOC staff) who care passionately about this place.
Thanks Anne, Max and Bev for your contribution. Read their full report here: Final summary to The Consortium – Kill Devil Carpark 2017