Mikonui Catchment, West Coast – January 2022
Healey Creek Hut occupies a high ledge above the headwaters of the Mikonui River, between the Whitcombe to the north and Waitaha to the south.
A standard NZFS 4-bunk S81 design, the hut was built in April 1968, and lined during the early 1980s. In April 2018, the four-bunker got a new water-tank, roof and piles, plus a new red paint job. Since these improvements, the hut has seen a marked increase in popularity, so badly needed a toilet.
So a Backcountry Trust volunteer team set to this task in an ideal weather window during January 2022. The team included Luis Castanon, Thomas Hayes, Jane Morris, Geoff Spearpoint, and Joanna Turnbull.
Tom reports: ‘Never before had I taken so much notice of a toilet, and from now I will take even greater note of other loos or latrines in the woods.’
‘BCT manager Rob Brown organised the team at the DOC Hokitika workshop to design and build an appropriate toilet structure. DOC’s Miguel Dijkstra and Tony Thrupp helped us once we arrived in Hokitika with collection from the yard.’
‘Precision Helicopters, based near the Hokitika Gorge, flew in the toilet and volunteers to Healey Creek Hut. The area is rather boggy, meaning limited options for the positioning toilet. We also considered the exposure to wind, snow and potential avalanches, and it also needed to be close enough for a midnight dash in the rain.’
Inclement West Coast jungle mist scuttled plans for a high level ridge-top traverse to Ivory Lake, so instead we tramped over Remarkable Peak, Dickson Pass, Sentinel Peak and Mt Bowen to reach Mikonui Spur Biv. From there, we reached our car the Hokitika Gorge via Explorer Hut and Minnow Creek. The amazing weather meant we could wade across the Hokitika River without any problems.