Kahurangi National Park, Nelson – May 2022
Nestled under the flanks of Mt Arthur in Kahurangi National Park is Ellis Hut, an important base for cavers, and a welcome haven for trampers too. Last year this great 6-bunk hut got some much needed attention from a Backcountry Trust (BCT) volunteer team of climbers and cavers, which including putting in a new cooking bench and removing of soil and rock under the hut to aid ventilation (see blog April 2021).
As is often the case, this working bee hatched even bigger plans. The two main goals were to replace the existing open fire with a decent wood-burner, and add a foyer to the hut for use by cavers to hang wet gear. The Ellis Basin is karst country, with several small sink holes visible around the hut, and cavers often return wet and dirty from their explorations.
The BCT once again funded the cost of materials and transport.
Ross Cullen reports. ‘So it was that a team led by Greg Pickford and Ross Cullen, with Bruce Davies, Nev West, and local builder Peter Slotemaker, headed into Ellis Basin in late May. Setting a brisk pace in the chilly autumn temperatures, and short daylight hours, the team set out on a big list of tasks.’
‘The tasks included: removing the old chimney and fireplace and installing the new wood-burner, fire surround and flue – with a kea excluder. The team added new piles, then built, clad and sealed the new foyer. Seats and hooks were added in foyer for hanging and storing gear.’
‘We repositioned the concrete flagstones at the new entrance, sourced some firewood from the nearby forest, and stacked it in woodshed. The old iron, timber, roof ladder, louvre panes, and paint was stored under hut, rubbish removed and the site given a tidy-up.’
‘We managed knock off everything we had set out to achieve, with the exception of the painting – which will have to wait until summer.’
‘Huge congratulations to the Nelson Caving group for pulling this one off! Thanks also to DOC’s Tom Young for supporting the project and managing the building consent process, Gowans Walters Architects for preparing plans, Lublow Farm for use of their land as a staging area, and Helicopters Nelson for the chopper logistics.’