Waikiti Valley, West Coast, 4–7 November 2021
Waikiti Hut is a rarely-visited, remote 6-bunk hut situated in the middle reaches of the Waikiti River, a tributary of the Ahaura River, east of Greymouth. It is accessible on a track from the Haupiri-Amuri Road up the Waikiti River, or over the tops west of the hut via Crane and Logjam Creeks. In November, a Backcountry Trust volunteer team flew into Waikiti Hut with Ahaura Helicopters to undertake a few days of track-cutting in the area.
The team included Steph Buxton, Mauricio Lloreda and Brent Smith.
Brent tells the story:
‘Our first job was scrubbing and cleaning the mouldy mattresses. Luckily we had some cleaning product left over from our 2019 trip, but we’d appreciate anyone heading to the hut taking some ‘exit mould’ product in.
A tree had fallen over near the hut, luckily just missing the door. We cut it up and later stacked the wood.
Taking our track-cutting gear with us, we surveyed Logjam Creek to see where tracks could be cut up beside the creek to link with an old route onto the tops west of the hut. After placing a large cairn at the bottom of the route out of Logjam Creek, we started cutting and marking the route upwards. We cut, permolatted and cleared 140 vertical metres of track before heading back to the hut.
On Day 2 we continued up to the scrub line, dealing with some moderate re-growth and windfall on the way. At times the old route was hard to find – in particular the open bush below the scrub line, but this has now been well permolatted and should cause no issues.
Tramper Simon Lewis had walked the hut the night before, and assisted us.
After marking and cutting through the scrub band we had lunch at the tarn at the top. Simon carried on from here to exit out Crane Creek the same day. He reported the balance of the track to the road was in good condition. (Note: the tarn at the top offers cell-phone coverage).
We then descended back down to Logjam Creek, completing a final cut, clear and mark as we went.
Once at Logjam Creek, we finalised the new track route down beside the creek (which includes a couple of fords) to its confluence with the Waikiti River.
Day 3 involved marking and cutting this new track beside Logjam Creek. The track starts on the true left of the Waikiti-Logjam confluence, marked by a cairn (pictured). We eventually ran out of permolat, which leaves a small section in the middle of the new track just with cruise tape, but it’s still easy to follow.
After lunch at the hut, we dealt with a large windfall downstream on the main Waikiti Hut track. We cut a route through the middle of two massive trees, then cleared another smaller nearby windfall. There were no further issues on the track as far as the first major tributary, but regardless the river-bed makes a much better route when water levels allows travel.
Our final day involved removing rubbish from the hut, tidying up and flying out. Ahaura Helciopters will fly in some warratahs, which at some later stage can be erected to better mark the section over the Logjam tops.