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: