Toka Biv sits on the edge of a high shelf on the side of the Ngamoko Range in Ruahine Forest Park. This old flat tin roof S86 bivvy was built by the New Zealand Forest Service during an intensive period of installing these small huts in the area between 1958 and 1960. Further up the range, Tarn Biv and Kylie Biv remain in reasonable original condition but over the years a number of others were removed as they slipped into decline.
Toka seemed the next one to heading for removal after it was found a couple of years ago to have badly corroded cladding and be leaking quite badly. The traditional wire tie downs were also no longer meeting any structural standards for the tops location.
Josh Murray from Fielding approached us keen to get some maintenance work done on this biv around the same time the Backcountry Trust was looking to get a few more maintenance projects going in the Ruahines. In August 2019 he went in with a mate and did a full baseline inspection of the old biv and we then worked with him to come up with a plan of how best to retain the recreational hunting and tramping opportunity opened up with this small basic shelter.
Toka Biv's subfloor and piles were found to be in reasonable condition and could be retained with some better fixings to tie the whole thing together a bit better. Half the piles were found to have not been concreted in these were pulled out and concreted in with two extra piles being added in for good measure.
The team decided to replace the whole frame and up rate the construction so there was no future need for the old wire tie-downs. Josh and his building and hunting mate Jeff Lock built a new frame in a day and then transported it out to the staging area of retired deer culler Jim Duncan's place in the foothills of the Ruahines.
Helicopter transport to the site the following day didn't go completely smoothly with an easterly wind flowing over the main range meaning sling loads were problematic. The group had plenty to get on with dismantling the old hut and getting on with getting the piles and subfloor solid. The following day was calm and clear allowing the pre-built frame to be flown in along with the load of cladding materials. Author Shaun Barnett and FMC Backcountry editor Peter Laurenson walked in to lend a hand with the painting and site works, and builder Brendon Yaxley made the trip at the last minute to make four with the building crew.
Over the next two days the group put in a couple of 12 hour days to get through the rebuild. A new 260 litre water tank was also installed next to the hut. Over the years the tarn near the hut has been found to not always have completely reliable water quality and the regular users of this hut had requested the rebuild provide for tank water.
While the rebuilt biv retains all the same dimensions, it's been built to modern structural and flashing standards with above code fixing and strength details for the alpine location.
Check out the very cool video of the rebuild Josh made on his iPhone of this project: