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.
Volunteers replaced some of the hut’s piles in 2018, but both the interior and exterior needed attention. A volunteer team, funded by the Backcountry Trust, including Steve Lyttle, Bill Thompson and Derrick Field (Hutt Valley NZDA) undertook some much-needed work in autumn.
The work they completed included: cleaning and preparing the interior walls and ceiling, and repainting using the original NZFS colour (Hakatere), replacing the shelf above the cooking bench, bolting the bunks to wall, installing a new drum for ashes, removing the old cupboard door and shelves and installing new wall lining and shelves. The team also vermin-proofed the interior, cut firewood and painted the toiler interior.
The NZDA members have also been doing some work on old NZFS tracks in the area. They removed marking tape and replaced it with white Permolat, and also cut subalpine scrub where this prevented safe travel. Altogether, the team spent 31 person days over three trips to remark these old routes:
* Arete Forks to Table Ridge (enables access over Table Ridge from Cow Creek)
* Arete Forks to the Waingawa bush edge
* Upper Waingawa valley to Tarn Ridge
* Carkeek Ridge to Park Forks
* Dorset Ridge to Carkeek via Upper Waiohine (partly done)
* Waiohine to McGregor Bivouac (partly done)
Project leader Derrick Field thanks the Backcountry Trust for enabling this project to proceed, and acknowledges the support of DOC Masterton.