South Westland – 20-22 April 2021
Located in this superbly named tributary of the Haast River, deep in South Westland, Roaring Billy Hut is an old Forest Service-era hut. BCT Board member Geoff Spearpoint has long had an interest in the area, and in recent years has also led work parties to restore the hut in the adjacent Thomas River.
Shortly before the Roar of 2021, Geoff got a call from Jeff Rawles, one of the DOC rangers based at Haast. He was concerned about the state of the Roaring Billy Hut, which was reported as being mouldy. Rawles was concerned that the hut might not be in a good state for the expected influx of hunters. After securing funding for costs from the BCT, Geoff undertook to fix any problems, accompanied with his wife Jane Morris.
Geoff and Jane flew in by helicopter, taking with them anti-mould products and safety gear, plus pack-rafts, so they walk out and inspect the track, then cross the Haast River back to their vehicle. They found the state of the hut not too bad. Geoff writes:
‘We spent a very full day scrubbing the whole hut interior with ‘Moss and Mould’, and we used the same product to clean the mattresses. It worked like a dream. We also took the opportunity to remove and clean the window panes and window surrounds, inside and out.’
‘The woodshed was a mess, so we re-sorted and stacked that. Overall we gave the hut a very good spring clean.’
‘Then we walked out, marking and cutting the track as we went. The track from the hut down to the flats in the valley is now well marked with tape, but needs a track work party sometime to complete. There is no track as yet along the flats downstream to where they finish. The track begins again here and goes back up into the bush to sidle out to the knoll overlooking the Haast, then drops steeply down to the river. This is all marked with tape and partly cut but also needs more work to complete the valley track.’
‘So to recap, the hut looks a million dollars, and the track is quite followable down to the Haast, but the last bit to the Haast is steep and greasy and needs realigning to the original track line. This is on my radar to finish over the spring and summer 2021-22.’