Kahurangi National Park, Murchison
Nestled beside a strip of beech trees beneath the looming limestone bluffs of the Haystack, Larrikin Creek Hut occupies a striking valley head in what could only be Kahurangi National Park. Nearby lies the bluff-fringed Hundred Acre Plateau, also known as the Devils Dining Table.
Built in the 1970s, the standard 4-bunk S81 ex-Forest Service hut featured flat galvanised iron cladding, a corrugated iron roof and water tank. Unlike many other similar huts, it had retained its original open fireplace and steel chimney.
While in reasonably sound condition, damp had crept into the walls beside the fireplace, there was no woodshed, the window frames were deteriorating, and the hut needed re-painting and a general tidy-up.
Early in 2020, when calls for interest in the hut appeared on the Backcountry Trust Facebook Page, Ross Cullen from Richmond put his hand up. He assembled a group to restore the hut in two phases.
In addition to Cullen, the Phase I team included builders Max Dorflinger, Rod Woodward, Marty Bisdee and Sonny Jim. For Marty and Sonny, (both of Murchison based Ultimate Descents), this was their third restoration project of the year, having earlier completed work on the two huts in the Matakitaki Valley as part of the Kaimahi for Nature funding.
The Phase II team included Cullen, Rod Woodward, Bruce Davies and Jane Furkert – a mixture of cavers and New Zealand Alpine Club members.
In March, Backcountry Trust manager Rob Brown, Nick Thorpe and Cullen flew with Murchison Heli Tours to Larrikin Creek Hut for an initial assessment. Brown arranged a Scope of Works agreement with DOC, but the Covid-19 restrictions delayed fieldwork. However, by 9th October, three loads of materials and tools were helicoptered onto site, and the Phase I team began work.
After removing the old roof iron and paper, the team replaced it with new liner and colour steel, as well as a new heavy-duty guttering. They also chose a site for the new woodshed, dug holes and concreted in the piles, began work on the frame, and used some of the hut’s old iron for the roof.
The Phase II team began work on 12th October. They completed the woodshed, added snow-braces to the guttering, fabricated a new chimney cowling from the old hut materials, treated the window frames, dug a drainage channel to keep water away from the hut, and prepared the exterior for re-painting. Over the following two days, the team applied the two coats of paint to the exterior, replaced the damp-damaged walls and alcove with new plywood, and cut back vegetation and soil to give the hut better light and airflow.
After a final tidy-up, and removal of old lead, waste timber and rubbish, Larrikin Creek Hut is set for some years to come. Altogether, the team put in close to 200 person-hours. Many thanks to all involved for a great job.
Access to Larrikin Creek Hut is from the Matiri Valley, near Murchison, and takes six hours from Matiri Hut, passing Poor Pete’s Hut en route. The newly-refurbished hut offers a superb base for exploring the local plateaux, or climbing the Needle and Haystack.