Whataroa Valley, West Coast – April 2022
Stan’s Hut sits on an elevated shoulder high above the Whataroa valley. The 4-bunk hut is blessed with exceptional views, low sandfly numbers, surrounding native scrub with healthy birdlife, as well as handy access to the tops. At Easter, a three-strong team of volunteers funded by the Backcountry Trust flew in complete a fine refurbishment of Stan’s. Led by Dave Keen, the group included Dave’s son Josh, and Michael Wilson.
Hunting guide Stan Peterson built the hut in 1985, on a site where he had previously maintained a tent camp. When Stan retired from guiding in the early 2000s, he donated the hut to the New Zealand chapter of Safari Club International (SCI). A few years later, the hut got a new roof and porch area, but time marched on and once again it needed some attention.
Stan’s Hut rose to the top of Dave Keen’s list, and after support from the Backcountry Trust, and countless hours of planning and preparation, the time for action eventually arrived. Michael Wilson reported: ‘Our hybrid New Zealand Deerstalkers Association/SCI party found ourselves making an Easter dash to the West Coast in a fully loaded Hilux.’
‘The Metvuw weather charts proved accurate and by mid-afternoon Ken Hutchins from Fox & Franz Heliservices had us safely at the hut. While still structurally sound and generally weather-tight, the hut needed new stainless tie-downs and anchor points to meet DOC compliance, along with a few non-critical improvements such as a fresh paint job.
‘We got straight into action for the evening with Dave and Josh digging out the existing anchors and mixing the first of many batches of Handicrete to provide a more permanent base.’
‘The next morning dawned clear, with lingering cloud in valley floor below us. Dave washed and prepped the exterior walls while Josh resumed his concreting work on the anchors and I made a start on a solar fit-out.’
‘Time flew by, and come evening 3 of the 4 anchor points were set in concrete, the first coat of paint was drying on the roof and walls, and the internal wiring was largely complete. That night we enjoyed our first use of the overhead LED lights, and could fine-tune their position before fixing them in place the next day.’
‘The last full day saw more Dulux-sponsored paint splashed on, the final anchor point set and work on the new stainless tie-down cables. We also affixed the solar panel.’
‘Meanwhile, the Keen boys worked on the long-drop; they repainted the door and fixed new tie-downs to the fresh warratahs kindly dropped in by pilot Ken Hutchins on his way past.’
‘The rusting tip of the hut shovel was about as strong as tin-foil, but work with the grinder gave it a new cutting edge. I put this to use clearing the drainage along the top-side of the hut, then used the pruning saw to tidy up the paths to the water-source and toilet.’
‘Come late afternoon, we took breath, and realised we’d checked everything off the list.’
‘The hut had new concrete tide-downs (Josh had poured some 350 kg of Handicrete), fresh paint on the roof and cladding, plus various minor weatherproofing improvements. The new solar panel, battery and controller powers interior and porch LED lights, as well as USB ports for charging your GPS, headlamp and phone.’
‘Stan’s Hut could still use a bit of a paint to freshen-up the inside, but that’s a job for another time.’
‘The next morning, three tired but greatly satisfied volunteers stood waiting for the helicopter. We’d done our small part to help make our backcountry hut network a more enduring asset for all.’
Many thanks to Dave, Josh and Michael for a sterling effort at Stan's Hut.