Newton Creek Hut in the Arahura Catchment inland from Hokitika was built in April 1962 by the New Zealand Forest Service. This standard 4-bunk S81 hut had been in relatively good condition until people started to notice that rats had broken into the wall and ceiling cavities in 2012.
A joint project was funded by the Backcountry Trust and Permolat, and in February 2017, builder Eric Saggers flew in with John Charles from Arthur's Pass, Rob Brown and Peter Mortlock and two tonnes of materials and equipment. Over the next two days the hut was stripped right back to the frame and the team set about rebuilding the corners of the hut, replacing rafters that had been almost completely eaten through by rats, and laying a new marine ply floor over the old one after areas of rot and rat damage were removed.
The team was joined a couple of days into the project by Andrew Buglass and Joke de Rijke walked in and got stuck into preparing all the roofing sheets. While Eric and John continued with the hut rebuild, more track work was done on Newton Creek track and Rob continued with the repiling. Andrew also got the posts in for the new woodshed.
After seven perfect days of weather the cladding and relining of the hut was almost complete but the weather was starting to break. Getting the outside roof paint on was starting to become a challenge with changing weather in the course of a day. The team headed out the following day ahead of a threatening front leaving a bundle of follow up jobs for the local DOC rangers.
The following month, DOC Hoki builder Nigel Schroder and his apprentice Miquel Dijkstra headed in and finished the woodshed, finished the installation of the wood burner flue and finished the painting and detailing of the hut.
In 10 days work of combined community effort this old hut went from being a bit of a challenge to spend the night in, with the smell and rustle of rats through, to a near new facility that should hopefully reignite a bit of interest in this great link route between the Arahura and Taipo catchments.