In late 2017 Bull Paddock Creek Biv was officially closed after an engineering inspection concluded that the foundations were weak and could fail, potentially resulting in the biv toppling down the hill. Working with the DOC engineer, a volunteer group came up with a plan for a new set of foundations for the biv that would meet an appropriate construction standard. The Backcountry Trust approved funding for the project in Round 9.
The project was finally underway in November 2019 and seven volunteers spent four days onsite constructing the new foundations and winching the biv back onto the new secure subfloor. The team included Kerry Clapham, Martin Clapham, Kerry Millard, Phil Bones, William Osborne, Stefan Warnaar, Jan Clayton-Greene.
On Friday morning the Helicharter Nelson crew at Rainbow Station loaded up, and despite the weather causing some uncertainty about flying that day, the pilot, Matt Gibb proved right in his assessment of the weather and the cloud lifted allowing the team to get underway transporting the 8 loads to the site of the biv. Thanks to Helicharter Nelson’s skill the team and materials were in place before lunch. The materials included 90 bags of high strength concrete and two 350kg loads of timber.
Once onsite, the group’s builder, Kerry Millard, measured up the new pile holes while the rest of the crew started on digging the pile holes. Six new piles, bracing and bearers were constructed directly adjacent to the biv. When the foundations were secure, the biv was lifted using highlift jacks. A safety sling anchored to a large uphill tree was looped around the biv and it was lifted around 50mm on the downwards side and a temporary bearer for the biv to sit on. The original foundations were then demolished and the team continued the careful task of lifting the biv alternating down and up hill sides until the biv was raised 250mm onto the new foundation height.
The iron cladding was peeled back and new stud-joist and stud-bearer fasteners were installed and flashing was added around the base of the biv to protect the floor and joists from further weathering.
Given the biv was now a little higher than it had been originally, the plan called for a small deck to be constructed at the front. Soil and rocks from the back of the biv and pile holes was brought around the front and deposited on the old biv site, then compacted to make a flat area adjacent to the deck.
Monday morning saw heavy snow hamper the team’s efforts to do the finishing and tidy up, but around midday, a gap in the weather meant that two sling loads, one of which was a full load of rubbish, and the group were flown out safely. Having successfully secured the huts future, the hut is now open again for trampers and hunters to enjoy this secluded high alpine basin.
Many thanks to all the generous volunteers and sponsors, Phil Crawford of DoC Nelson Lakes, Marlborough Tramping Club, Otago and Canterbury University Tramping Clubs, and everyone who helped to bring the project to completion.