Ferny Gair Conservation Area, Marlborough – October 2022
Penk Hut lies in the headwaters of Marlborough’s Penk River, a significant tributary of the Awatere River. The standard 6-bunk ex-NZFS hut lies near the forks of two creeks that drain the high slopes of Ferny Gair (1670 metres). In October 2022, the hut got some overdue attention from Backcountry Trust volunteers led by hunter Simon Wyatt, with help from DOC ranger Ray Bennett. The rest of the volunteers, also keen hunters, included John Flannagan, Jock Flannagan, Matt Large and Paul Fuller.
In October 2022, the team flew in to begin work. They re-piled and levelled the hut, concreted in the piles, and securely fastened the building.
Digging a new toilet hole proved to be a major, given the size of one rock that got in the way. Simon made a new fibreglass roof for the toilet.
Inside the hut, the team installed a new stainless bench, secured the bunks to the wall with screws, and washed the walls and ceiling. Using plywood, they re-lined the porch and placed a metal kick-strip at the entrance.
The pot-belly stove had seen better days, with a broken door and hinges, but Simon repaired it with a bit of Kiwi ingenuity. He also replaced the damper in the flue, wire brushed the stove, and painted it black until it looked like new.
Simon and Ray removed all the old lead-head nails, then re-painted the hut exterior with two coats of paint. Meanwhile the rest of the crew did some hunting, and altogether shot 49 goats, 11 deer, one pig and one chamois.
With the hut finished, Simon and Ray cut back some of the old-man mānuka and kānuka that was shading the hut, then cleared the heli-pad of surrounding vegetation too. They also re-cut the track down to the river, using temporary markers made from plywood off-cuts, painted white. To mark the track entrance on the river bank, they painted a white triangle on a huge secure rock.
The next hunting party from the Marlborough branch New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association will take in orange track markers. Thanks to a great effort from the volunteers, and also to Rob at Murchison Helicopters.