Waianakarua Scenic Reserve, Ōamaru – November & December 2021
Thanks to the efforts of hunters from the North Otago branch of the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association, a new hut sits proudly on a ridge-top in this bush reserve near Ōamaru. Over the rest of summer, NZDA members led by Barry Wilson will be putting the finishing touches on the new facility, named Kahikatea Lodge.
Tararua Forest Park, Wairarapa – May 2021
At long last, there is once again a bivouac on the Tararua Ranges’ Neill-Winchcombe Biv – the third on site.
If it were not for the original Winchcombe Biv, Geoff Spearpoint may well have perished on a wintry Neill-Winchcombe Ridge when he was just a teenager, back in the 1960s. Spearpoint and his schoolmate retreated back to the biv, exhausted and beaten by the weather, and most likely would have succumbed to hypothermia if were not for the shelter of the small dog-box bivouac.
This was the first Winchcombe Biv, erected by the Forest Service for use by its deer cullers during the 1960s. During the mid-1980s, this dog-box (Winchcombe Biv I) was replaced by a small stand-up two-person hut: Winchcombe Biv II. However, it didn’t last long; by the 1990s it had been removed as part of a rationalisation of huts within the Tararua Range.
So it’s with a nice sense of full-circle that in his role on the Backcountry Trust Board, nearly 60 years later, Spearpoint could approve funding for Winchcombe Biv III.
Tararua Forest Park, Wairarapa – April 2021
Located in the upper Waingawa River, Cow Creek Hut offers important shelter for a range of trips on the eastern side of Tararua Forest Park. It’s most often reached from Kiriwhakapapa on a 4-5 hour tramp over the Blue Range. Other approaches include the valley track from Mitre Flats Hut, and also the route from Roaring Stag Hut in the neighbouring Ruamahanga Valley. Built in 1960, the hut has served well for over 60 years, and remains one of the few largely unmodified NZFS S70 huts in the Tararua Range.
Recently, Cow Creek Hut had a welcome tidy-up by members of the Hutt Valley branch of the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association, who have a management agreement for upkeep of the hut with DOC Masterton. The aim is to retain these facilities as close as possible to their original design, so that they remain as examples of the huts used in the NZFS deer-culling era.
Waikiti Valley, West Coast, 4–7 November 2021
Waikiti Hut is a rarely-visited, remote 6-bunk hut situated in the middle reaches of the Waikiti River, a tributary of the Ahaura River, east of Greymouth. It is accessible on a track from the Haupiri-Amuri Road up the Waikiti River, or over the tops west of the hut via Crane and Logjam Creeks. In November, a Backcountry Trust volunteer team flew into Waikiti Hut with Ahaura Helicopters to undertake a few days of track-cutting in the area.
The team included Steph Buxton, Mauricio Lloreda and Brent Smith.
Kahurangi National Park, Nelson – April 2021
Nelson climber Ross Cullen and his mates were back in action again this year, following on from last year’s renovation of Larrikins Creek Hut. This time his focus was Ellis Hut, situated near the eastern bushedge of the Wharepapa/Arthur Range. It’s an important base for cavers exploring the local limestone labyrinths, but also hosts the occasional tramper too. The upper Ellis Basin is surrounded by the marble peaks of The Twins, Winter Peak and Mt Arthur, and even the terrain surrounding the hut features several small sinkholes.
Access to Ellis Hut from the Flora Carpark is via the Mount Arthur route, or up the long and rather arduous bush track in the Ellis River from the Baton Valley.
Kaimanawa Forest Park, Taupo – 24-26 November 2021
Oamaru Hut is perched on a river terrace above the Oamaru River, in the headwaters of the Mohaka catchment. The three-room, 12-bunk hut is popular with hunters, anglers and trampers alike, and is most often accessed on tracks through the Kaipo Valley from Clements Mill Road, or via the Poronui Access Route from Taharua Road.
Like most of the other huts in Kaimanawa Forest Park, it’s a Lockwood design, originally built in the Forest Service days during the early 1970s. While the interlocking wood design has lasted surprisingly well, the hut definitely needed a spruce-up, and happily a team led by Michael Main did just this in November.