In the week before the world went into Level 4 as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, Dave Hodder and five others flew in with Alpine Springs Helicopters to Tutu Hut. The trip had already been delayed by a month, but they managed to get in with enough tools and materials to finish the new helipad at the site. The day before they left they were advised that they would need to wear face masks and gloves on the flight, which they managed to find among their gear at home after they discovered that Bunnings had already sold out.
The hut mainly gets used by local hunters who fly in for the week and from this base have a pretty good go at keeping the animal numbers under control in this area.
There had been a distinct lack of rainfall over summer and the ground was pretty solid for the excavation of post holes for the retaining wall. Once these were in the level cutting was made and the soil back filled over the pad area.
While the helipad work was underway, a group from the Hanmer LSAR team cleaned out the old NZFS 4 bunk hut, painted an internal wall, replaced canvas bunk coverings with timber slats and mattresses with some from the NZDA Palmer Lodge. A certified chainsaw person in the group also cut some trees to improve the approach clearances, and when they had all finished on location they placed track markers while they walked the 20 minutes down to Tutu stream, before their return flight. This initial work will not only make the access a little better, but will aid future groups coming in to maintain the hut and track down valley.