Sunday, 25 September 2016

New Hut for the Waiau Pass area

A replacement for Caroline Creek Biv...

Good news for all Te Araroa trampers and those with plans to cross Waiau Pass at some stage. The dilapidated 2 person bivouac at Caroline Creek on the Waiau Pass route is being replaced with a new 10 bunk hut over the summer of 2016/2017.

Existing bivouac at Caroline Creek from Wilderness

There is an article in the October Wilderness magazine detailing how $300 000 has been donated for a new hut to replace the totally inadequate bivy which exists in the area presently.

I imagine it will be like the Poulter Hut which is the standard 10 bunk DOC hut design at the moment.

Poulter Hut from
The hut was finished in January of 2018, it is located about three kilometres further down the Waiau River Valley from Caroline Creek Biv. It has been named Waiau Hut, it is a standard 6 bunk DOC design similar to Magdalen and Crow Huts. This is a lot smaller than first discussed but is still mightily useful as a hut was badly needed at this location..

Waiau Hut, St James Conservation Area

Waiau Hut, St James Conservation Area

Waiau Hut, St James Conservation Area, Photo from DOC

Now, who is interested in crowd funding a new Casey Hut of the same design for the Mid Poulter River Valley......?

Friday, 23 September 2016

A dip into my hut bagging bucket list

A hut bagging bucket list

Bucket lists seem to be all the rage, people have lists of the places they want to visit, beers they want to sup, concerts they would like to see. Whatever your hobby there is sure to be a aspirational bucket list and the outdoors is no exception.

Personally, I have a bucket list of huts I would like to visit, or "bag" as we say in New Zealand.

What is hut bagging?

 Minchin Bivouac, Arthur's Pass NP (2 bunks)
  We are very lucky in New Zealand to have a collection of public huts available for general use. At last count there were over 970 huts ranging from tiny  2 person "dog box" (they look like a doghouse) bivouacs right up to Great Walk monster huts which sleep 50-100 people.

Magdalen Hut, Mt Sumner FP (6 Bunks)...most consecutive nights stayed at a hut (3 nights...)

They have a varied background: DOC huts, ex New Zealand Forestry Service huts, miner's huts, research stations, climbing/skiing/tramping club shelters or ex farm accommodation.

Coldwater Hut, Nelson Lakes NP (12 bunks)

These are almost universally managed by the Department of Conservation or DOC as we call it.

Luxmore Lodge on the Kepler Track (54 bunks)

Because of this profusion of huts we have a peculiar outdoor hobby in New Zealand of visiting or "bagging" as many of them as possible. My current "bag" is only 122 huts visited, there are many trampers who have visited over 400 huts and there several people close to reaching all 970+ huts.

  A selection from my personal hut bagging bucket list

Here is a list of 12 interesting huts I would like to visit....and bag!

NB: All photos are from the DOC website unless free commons or linked to the source...

Field Hut

 Ah, good old Field Hut.

Field is one of the first purpose built tramping huts in New Zealand and the oldest original hut in the Tararua Ranges. Field Hut was built by the the Tararua Tamping Club (TTC) in 1924 to encourage more people to visit the mountain range where tramping began in this country.

It may be old but it is still serviceable, Field Hut, Tararua Range

Field Hut is an integral part of the classic Southern Crossing of the Tararua Range from Otaki to the Wairarapa Plains. Although a lot of the outside of the hut has been replaced over time it still resides in its original location. 

A true classic!

 (I am embarrassed to say that in more than 20 years of tramping I have never ventured into the Tararua Ranges. Shameful my defence I have never lived in Wellington)

A note on tramping in the Tararua Range:

 This range of mountains is clearly visible from parts of Wellington, our capital and third largest city.

November 2014, southerly front slams Wellington and the distant Tararua Ranges

 Don't let that fool you, this range can be dangerous.  It is mountainous, rugged and because it sits beside Cook Strait powerful storm fronts can blow in at any time of the year. The Tararua's have more memorial huts named after trampers who died tramping locally than any other place in New Zealand.
Bear this in mind and give it the respect it deserves! 

Ivory Lake Hut

 Ivory Lake Hut is Mecca for hut baggers, it is one of the most difficult huts to bag in New Zealand. If you have reached it you have already been tramping for 4 solid days up Westland's Waitaha Valley, arguably one of the most rugged locations in the country.

Ivory Lake Hut, from

The hut is an old glacial research station, the glacier is almost gone but there is a beautiful lake remaining.  Probably less than 300 people have ever visited the hut in its 50 year history.

 This is absolutely NOT a hut for a solo tramper to visit: you need tramping companions, superb fitness, great gear and a LOT of alpine/backcountry experience. But I can dream......

Welcome Flat Hut

 Beautiful Westland valley location, fantastic two story hut, 100 meters from some of the best natural hot springs in New Zealand....whats not to like?

Welcome Flat Hut, Westland Tai Poutini NP

It takes 5 hours to reach the hut from the car park off State Highway 6, and requires you to cross a number of un bridged side stream enroute.

The Welcome Flat Hot Pools

If you are completing the alpine crossing of the Southern Alps via Copland Pass this is your final nights accommodation. 

 NB: The other boot drops.....this hut is on the international tourist circuit, just like the Great Walks, Lake Angelus Hut and the Tongariro Crossing...CROWDS and CROWDS and god-damn CROWDS of people is the result! It is now on the DOC hut booking system and in the summer this IS absolutely a hut you will get chucked out of if you don't have a booking.

Be warned!

Blue Lake Hut

 Blue Lake Hut is just off the classic Travers-Sabine Circuit in Nelson Lakes NP, it is one of the huts you must pass on the way to completing the Te Araroa Trail route over Waiau Pass. 

Blue Lake Hut, Nelson Lake NP
The hut is lovely and well located but what you are here for is to see the Blue Lake. Blue Lake has the clearest water in the world, it was measured in 2014 and has underwater visibility of over 80 meters meaning it is clearer than distilled water.

The world famous Blue Lake, Nelson Lakes NP

 I have been over Waiau Pass before but I have never visited the hut/lake as we hurried past on the way to points west. I'm planning to walk this section of Te Araroa in the summer of 2017-18.

  Colenso Hut

  Colenso Hut is in the North Island, it sits on the strenuous Ruahine Corner to Rangitane Road tramp in Ruahine Forest Park. Most visitors will fly in by helicopter and then spend the next 4-5 days following the route out to civilisation. The track is mostly high ridge travel inter spaced with river bed walking making fine weather an imperative.

Colenso Hut, Ruahine FP

  I have tramped in the North Island before but never in the Ruahine Range.

Fenella Hut

  Fenella Hut is in the beautiful Cobb Valley, Kahurangi National Park in the north-west corner of the South Island. The hut is named after Fenella Druce who was one of 4 people killed when the Three Johns Hut in Mt Cook was blown off its ridge in a massive storm in 1977. Her family and friends provided most of the funds for this hut.

Fenella Hut, Cobb Valley, Kahurangi NP

  The hut is not particularly difficult to reach it is just a long way from Christchurch at the end of a torturous gravel road from Upper Takaka. I will eventually visit the Cobb Valley area as there are several huts/routes/tracks/lakes in the area I would like to visit. Its going to be a big mission...

   Roaring Stag Hut

Look at that gorgeous hunk of a has it all. Nice sunny location, right next to a river (but far enough away so that it won't flood), relatively easy access, lots of trees around it....perfection in a hut thy name is Roaring Stag.

Roaring Stag Hut II, Tararua FP

The hut is in the less visited North Eastern part of Tararua Forest Park, entailing access from the Wairarapa Plains.

 Park-Morpeth Hut

  Park-Morpeth Hut is owned by the Canterbury Mountaineering Club (CMC) and is another memorial hut. This hut was built in 1931 in memory of James Park and John Morpeth who lost their lives, drowned in a nearby stream when attempting a difficult river crossing during a storm.

The classic "New Zealand Death" in action...

Climbing via to Harman Pass via the Taipoiti River

Materials to build this hut were carried in by pack horse from Mt Algidus Station by the CMC who then built the hut over several weekends.
 DOC hut passes cannot be used at this hut, instead:

Hut fees can be paid by direct credit to the CMC account 03 1592 0103242 00, putting your name and the hut name in the payment details.  Alternatively send a cheque to the Club Treasurer, PO Box 2415, Christchurch with a note of your name and the hut you stayed in. (from the CMC website)

Park-Morpeth Hut Wilbourforce River Valley

  A visit to Park Morpeth is part of the classic Three Passes Tramp from Arthurs Pass NP to the West Coast via Harman/Whitehorn/Browning Pass. This is not a route for amateurs as it requires crossing three Alpine passes as well as over 100 river crossings!

Mt Brown Hut

This started as an old hut relocated from the Lower Arahura Valley, but as it required a lot of new material and wind strengthening it is basically a new hut. Construction was carried out by the Mt Brown Community Project Team and involved significant unpaid volunteer work. Many of the materials were given as donations from businesses in the Hokitika area. It was one of the first joint public/private outdoor projects to be completed and showed that this model could be made to work in New Zealand.

Mt Brown Hut, Lake Kaniere, West Coast

It is a bit of steep hike to get to the hut site but the views are supposed to be spectacular from there.

Larrikin Creek Hut (Thousand Acres Plateau)

  Larrikin Creek Hut sits on the 1000 Acres Plateau just to the north of Murchison on the West Coast of the South Island. Both the 1000 and the 100 acre plateau are ancient pene-plains thrust up through geologic action. Stunning tussock grasslands, limestone caves, sharp limestone peaks are all features of the area.

Larrikin Creek Hut, Kahurangi NP

  A good itinerary for a visit to the area is:
  • Day 1: Walk into Lake Matiri Hut (half day).
  • Day 2: Climb onto the plateau, pass Poor Pete's Hut, and continue on to Larrikin Creek Hut.
  • Day 3: Visit the Needle ( a local peak) and Hundred Acres Plateau, and walk back to Poor Pete's Hut, camp in vacinity of the hut
  • Day 4: Descend off the plateau down to Lake Matiri Hut and out.
This trip is very firmly on my to do list and while not easy can be achieved by a solo tramper. 

The view from The Needle of the Haystack and 1000 Acre Plateau

Soper Shelter Tent camp

  The majority of our back country huts were built to facilitate deer culling in the 1960-70's. Most were of solid construction, wood or metal but a small number were temporary tent-huts made of canvas. Using canvas meant a cullers hut could be raised cheaply and quickly by two men over a couple of days and often in locations where a solid hut was impractical.

Soper Shelter in Kahurangi National Park is a new built example (2015) of this iconic design.

Soper Tent shelter

The framing is made from local timber while the walls and roof have an inner and outer canvas skin.
This is one of only two ( the other is Cobb Tent Camp in the Cobb Valley) left in the country, most of the others have just rotted away. The hut was built jointly by Golden Bay Alpine and Tramping Club and DOC staff over five days in 2015.

If you are interested there is a nice article about the build in the July 2016 FMC Bulletin if you can find a copy. There is an on-line report about the build on the FMC website

  Martins Bay Hut 

 As with many of the other huts on this list, the hut itself is not the focus, it is the location that matters. If you are staying the night in Martins Bay Hut you have just finished or are about to start the Hollyford Track. 

The Hollyford Track should be on the bucket list of all serious New Zealand trampers. This Fiordland track is a lot more rugged than the Great Walks in the same area. Because it is at sea level it can be walked for most of the year, not just in the busy summer season.

Martins Bay Hut
 The hut sits on the mouth of Lake McKerrow with views out to the wild Tasman Sea. It is at least a 4 day journey from here to civilisation (if you want to call it that) at the Lower Hollyford road end.

Interior of Martins Bay hut
Obviously this list is far from exhaustive, but it gives you a taste of the kind of huts I have on my bucket list!

My favourite DOC hut, Packhorse Hut, Banks Peninsula (10 bunks), 9 visits so far...

If you are interested in hut bagging you should check out the Hut Bagger NZ site, register and bag some huts. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Christchurch 360: Mt Pleasant to Scarborough

Walking from Mt Pleasant to Scarborough on the Christchurch 360 Trail 

The weather forecast for the mountains was not supposed to be very good on the Saturday, so I decided I would go walk another of the Christchurch 360 sections I need to complete.

Entrance to the Estuary from near Shag Rock

The eastern beach suburbs

Mt Pleasant to Scarborough on the Christchurch 360

The section I decided to walk was that between Mt Pleasant and Scarborough, along the Christchurch Coastal Pathway. This pathway is mostly on footpaths but is is actually quite nice as you have water right next to you for the whole length of the trip. I parked my car at the Mt Pleasant Yacht Club car park and set out for points East.....

Car-park next to the Mt Pleasant Yacht Club

Ferrymead end of the Estuary
There are a series of information panels along the pathway with historical information and notes about future developments envisioned for the estuary such as bird watching hides.

Information panel along Coastal Pathway

View out to South Brighton from Mt Pleasant shoreline

The new Christchurch Coastal Pathway at Mt Pleasant

Mt Pleasant farmers market
Mt Pleasant farmers market advertisement...

The McCormicks Bay Causeway

The fore mentioned McCormicks Bay

Approaching Redcliffs on the causeway
Christchurch 360 symbol near Redcliffs

Turn off down Beachville Road, Redcliffs
Not all parts of the Coastal Pathway are completed, the section between McCormicks Bay and Clifton Terrace is still under construction

The Coastal Pathway...a work in progress....

The estuary, Clifton Terrace and Southshore Spit

More of the Coastal Pathway at Redcliffs

Jon with Clifton Terrace in the background
I spotted a few birds along this area, shags, herons and seagulls mostly, also some shoals of fish swimming around just off shore.

Nankeen Heron?

The infamous Shag

The estuary and Southshore Spit
The trail goes back out onto the main road for a couple of hundred meters, taking you through the shops at Redcliffs....

Trail goes through down town Redcliffs

Older gravel section of the Coastal Pathway

One of the Coastal Pathway Signs

Estuary mouth from Moncks Bay
I noticed a sign along here which said that this next section of the Coastal Pathway is due for construction in November this space.

Unformed part of the Coastal Pathway
As you round Clifton Terrace you pass Shag Rock, which was a rock pillar just off the coast. Now it is just a pile of ruble, it was destroyed in the 2010/11 earthquakes. We in Christchurch have cheekily taken to calling it "Shagged Rock", its gallows humor really as it is actually quite sad....

Is it Shag rock, or....

...."Shagged" rock

Pre earthquake Shag Rock

There is a massive earthwork in progress at Clifton Terrace, the council and NZTA are building a berm to catch rocks falling down onto the road. It is impressive, they are cutting the cliffs back and totally covering them with reinforced wire netting to hold it all together.

Massive earthworks to stabilise Clifton Terrace

Foundations of destroyed Clifton Terrace House

Clifton Terrace: cliff side wire netting to hold rock in place
You can see why there have been various schemes over the years to build a bridge from Sumner to Southshore, the mouth of the Estuary is only about 40 meters wide at low tide. Unfortunately it is about the same depth so $$$$$$$$$$.... it is unlikely to be built in my lifetime.

Entrance of the Estuary between Shag Rock and Southshore

Sumner Beach
The new Surf Club at Sumner looks flash, I really like the shape and use of wooden cladding.

Brand new Sumner Surf Clubrooms
Turn onto the Esplanade just past the surf club and walk down to Cave Rock...

The Esplanade in Sumner

WW1 Memorial "Gallipoli" on Sumner Esplanade
The council are repairing the signal station on Cave Rock at the moment, but you can still go up on top for a bit of a look around. There is a nice view of Pegasus Bay from up there. i note some idjiot is in hospital after trying to jump from Cave rock onto the containers....don't be that guy!

Cave Rock, Sumner
Once past Cave Rock you walk along the seawall right down to Sumner Heads and the end of this section of Trail.

View out to Scarborough cliffs...the end in sight!

Closer view of Scarborough and Sumner Heads

On the promenade between Sumner and Scarborough
Pathway on the Sumner seawall, the WW1 memorial clock tower


...damn straight ice-cream!
Christchurch 360 Information Panel at Scarborough
There are a series of Christchurch 360 information panels and maps next to the cafe at Scarborough, not so easy to see unfortunately....

Godley Cliffs Section (7-8 hrs)

Estuary-Marshes Section (4-6 hrs)
This section ends another 100 meters up the road near the Coast Guard Station., from here you can walk back to the start, catch a bus (in Sumner township) or continue along the next section of the Trail.

Heading towards Sumner Heads

View of Sumner Bay from the end of this section

End of this section, Godley Head Section starts/finishes here
I got to the end of the section with the intention of catching a bus back to the start but it was such a nice day I thought, bugger it I'll walk right back.

So I did....

We have spent many happy hours with the kids at the Scarborough Park over the years, it is gorgeous and very well loved.

........park near Scarborough.

Tide filling the Estuary
Jaffa the Jeep, need I say more.....

Jaffa the Jeep.....yep!

Below is a WW2 machine gun emplacement that was converted into a seat at some time. Back in 1941/42 we were convinced the Japanese would invade New Zealand so a series of fortifications were built right along the coast. This one would have dominated the entrance to the estuary.

I'm glad it is seeing some other sort of use...

WW2 machine gun emplacement reconfigured as seat

Gun emplacement information panel
The tide comes in quick at this end of the estuary, in the 15 minutes I was eating lunch all of the sandbars were covered over by the tide.

Incoming tide in the Estuary
I stopped for a sandwich and drink just past the Moncks Bay Yacht Club, there are seats where you can look out over the estuary. My sandwich was from the bakery in Sumner...yum, very nice,  it had my favourite Kiwi dressing made from sweetened condensed milk, I will go there again.

Eating my lunch near Redcliffs

Lunch spot over looking Moncks Bay

Southshore from lunch stop

The Estuary from lunch stop

Clifton Terrace from lunch stop
There are still a lot of empty sections along the coast, some poor people are still fighting their insurance companies 5 years after the 2010/2011 earthquakes.

One of the still empty sections in Redcliffs

One of the sad losses of the earthquakes is Redcliffs Cave, the roof collapsed making it unsafe to enter.

It is totally munted!

Just about every Christchurch kid from 1860-2010 must have visited this cave at one time or another.....

The munted Redcliffs Cave

If you don't fancy the idea of walking all the way to Scarborough and back, then just jump on the Purple Line bus and only walk one way. The bus comes through every 15 minutes and would cost $2.00-$3.50 depending on your age.

Your bus transport if you care to use it...

It takes a long time for the tide to reach the head of the estuary, as you can see in the photo below there were still mudflats at this end.

Still not high tide at this end of the estuary

The Coastal Pathway is a very nice many times have you driven this way but never actually walked it? I recommend everyone get out there and give it a go, just pick a lovely sunny day like I did.

Christchurch 360 section details: Mt Pleasant to Scarborough

Access:Start at the Mt Pleasant Yacht Club, ends at the Scarborough Surf Club
Track Times: Approximately 7 km's, 1-2 hours one way
Miscellaneous:Purple Bus Line covers this whole section if you want to park at one end and catch the bus back to your car.