Showing posts with label Anne Cullers Hut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anne Cullers Hut. Show all posts

Monday, 23 February 2015

St James Walkway: 18-21st February 2015 (Day 3-4)

Tramping the St James Walkway...

Day three and four of my trip around the St James Walkway took me up the Anne River valley to Anne Saddle, then down the Boyle River valley to the outdoor education centre at Boyle Village.

Day Three:St James Walkway,  Anne Hut to Boyle Flat Hut (17.5 km's)

As usual I was up at the crack of dawn and on my way down the track, the distance to cover to Boyle Flat was 17.5 km's. For most of the day I was walking by myself,  around 11.30 several of the Te Araroa walkers caught up to me and we walked the final 5-6 km's of the track together.
Dawn at Anne Hut on day three
I was the first out of the hut, I really like to walk in the early morning as it is a lot cooler than walking in the blazing heat of the afternoon. I also find the light of the early morning very appealing.
St James Walkway: setting out towards Anne River bridge

View back towards Anne Hut from the St James Walkway:
About 3 km's down the track you cross to the true left of the Anne River. I made the short side trip to visit Anne Cullers hut near this bridge but stupidly forgot to take a photo.
St James Walkway: Anne River from first bridge
  Anne Cullers is a historic 4 bunk hut build by the NZFS for deer culler's back in the 1950's. Others close by include Rokeby, Ada Culler's and Jervois Hut.

The smaller 2, 4 and 6 bunk huts in this area existed before the St James Walkway was built and would have been quite difficult to access. The tracks would not have existed only unmarked routes up the rivers, probably rough travel if you didn't know where you were going. 

 From the hut the St James continues up the true left of the river for awhile.

Anne Cullers Hut in 2013

Nice easy track up the Anne River valley for the first couple of hours, the track is mostly on river terraces with the occasional climb over intervening ridge lines.

St James Walkway: Track up Anne Valley

View towards head of Anne River on the St James Walkway
The ridge below is the most strenuous part of the track along this section of the walkway, this one climbs above a gorge in the Upper Anne River.

St James Walkway: one of the ridges that must be climbed over

Last river flat before climb to Anne Saddle, St James Walkway
Eventually you reach the swampy head of the Anne River, this is slower going.  As you get closer to the top the track becomes steeper but nothing too strenuous.

Start of climb to Anne Saddle
As you can see in the photo below its not much of a saddle to climb, all things considered...
Anne Saddle in middle of photo

St James Walkway: DOC Anne Saddle sign

St James Walkway: Anne Saddle in centre of photo

St James Walkway: nearing Anne Saddle
Below is the steepest part of the track, this is over the last 200 meters before the saddle, it is steep and rocky and requires a bit of care.

Honestly, this is one of the easiest saddles I have ever walked over, bar Ada Pass!
Anne Saddle approaching the crest of the saddle

St James Walkway: Anne Saddle (1136 metres)
Here I am goofing it up on the saddle, it took me about 2.5 hours to reach this spot from the hut and is roughly 1/3 of the way to Boyle Flat Hut.

Jon at Anne Saddle on the St James Walkway
The descent into the Boyle is a totally different proposition, it is steep, rocky, and slippery, it would be about a kilometre from the saddle to the bottom but took me over an hour to traverse due to the terrain. My walking stick was a god send on this section of the track as it gave me that all important third point of ground contact.

Take care through here!

Steep descent into Boyle River Valley on the St James Walkway
Eventually you break out into the Upper Boyle river valley, it is really beautiful up there and would certainly warrant another visit just to camp in the area. It's all river flats and climbing over small ridge from here to Boyle Flat, about 9 km's further down the valley.

Upper Boyle River valley...nice camping potential!

River flats in Upper Boyle Valley from the St James Walkway
The track is seared into the grass of the river flats by all the passing feet. It is intersected at regular points by deer/pig/people tracks coming down from the hills. Watch for rocks and branches in that long grass, I tripped over an old rotten log walking along here.
St James Walkway: approaching Rokeby Hut
About half way along the track to Boyle Flat you pass the old Rokeby Hut, this is a small 2 bunk hut located inside a small finger of bush on one of the ridges. It is "rustic" in nature; dirt floor, sacking bunks, no lining... but in quite good condition. There is even a classic corrugated iron dog box for the mustering dogs which were once used up the valley.
Rokeby Hut in its bush surrounds

Ye olde dogge hawse...behind Rokeby Hut

Interior of Rokeby hut, St James Walkway

About 3 kilometres down valley you arrive at the swing-bridge to Boyle Flat Hut, my final destination for the day. I've stayed at the hut previously  and it is very nice, well maintained and in a prime location.   

Boyle Flat Hut, St James Walkway
The water source for the hut is normally piped from a nearby stream, but with the dry, hot weather this has dried up. If you are visiting the hut the alternate source of water is the very nice creek about 50 meters to the north of the hut. Follow the track which goes past the left hand side of the wood shed, it is easy to find.  

Approach to water source for Boyle Flat Hut
Nice clean looking water in the creek but I would still purify it as who knows what is lurking just upstream.

Unnamed side stream near Boyle Flat Hut

I spent the night at Boyle Flat hut with 2 Australian and 2 German TaT walkers, the other 10 legged it down the valley as they wanted to get to Hanmer Springs for the night.That would be a total of 31 km's of walking for the 10 of them!
Personally, I was more than happy to walk the 17.5km's and call it a day....

Day Four: St James Walkway, Boyle Flat Hut to Boyle Outdoor Education Centre (BOEC) (14.5 km's)

Another early morning as the 5 of us staying in the hut over night headed down valley to the road end at Boyle Village. I've walked this part of the track numerous times now so was well acquainted with what lay in store.

Boyle Flat Hut on the St James Walkway

Travel through this section is easy, the track is benched from the hut to the first swing-bridge over the Boyle, although there are a number of new slips on the track to be tackled. I really like the Upper Boyle valley it is dense, much like a West Coast track.

Track between Boyle Flat and first swing-bridge

Lush track side growth, Boyle Flat track

St James Walkway: Boyle River view south
Eventually you reach the old stile which separates the upper valley from the cattle flats around St Andrews. The swing bridge is about 100 meters further down the track from this spot.

St James Walkway: the stile just before Boyle swing-bridge

Swing-bridge over Boyle River
I was surprised with how dry the normally muddy track is, no rain for a couple of months will do that I suppose. The dry probably shaved at least 40 minutes off the usual time between the two swing bridges over the Boyle River. Normally you have to carefully jump from log to log, you can plough through but you will end with mud up to your knees.
Nice dry conditions on the St James Walkway

St James Walkway: near St Andrews flats
St James Walkway: half way to Boyle Village

I love catching my first view of the lower Boyle swing bridge, it means you are nearly home. Only the last fairly easy walk out to the road end left.

St James Walkway: lower Boyle swing bridge...beautiful sight!

Two of the Te Araroa walkers and I reached the road end at Boyle Village together, we meet up with the other two walkers as we pulled out onto the Highway.  I dropped them all off in Hanmer as I was going there for some lunch.

Best and worst bits of the St James Walkway

 Best part of the tramp was the whole section from Lewis Pass to the Christopher River, the Spencer Mountains are spectacular. Anne Hut is awesome, I know it is new but a lot of thought went into the design and it shows. I love those wide grass plains you walk across. I also really enjoyed interacting with the TaT trampers they are an eclectic and interesting group of people, and good value.

The worst was the 5 hours I spent walking around Mt Federation and up the Henry Valley: it was hot, dry and windy. After walking 25 km's I was goddamn happy to eventually reach the hut that day.

Why is this not a must do tramp for all New Zealanders?

Awesome trip, and much recommended to all you Kiwis out there, it is a relatively easy 4-5 day tramp so put your boots on and give it a go!

Access: From SH 7 (Lewis Pass Highway), the track starts at Lewis Pass Tarns, southern terminus is at Boyle Village.
Track Times: Day three: From Anne Hut it is 6-7 hours to Boyle Flat Hut via Anne Saddle: Day four: From Boyle Flat Hut it is 4 hours to Boyle Village
Hut Details: Anne Hut: serviced, 24 bunks, water tanks, wood burner, toilets, wood shed: Anne Cullers Hut: basic, 4 bunks, open fire, water from stream, toilet: Roxeby Hut,:basic, 2 bunks, wood burner, water from stream, classic dog box out the back: Boyle Flat Hut: serviced, 20 bunks, water from stream, wood burner, toilet, wood shed: Magdalen Hut: standard, 6 bunks, water tank, wood burner, toilet, wood shed
Miscellaneous: Some un-bridged side streams. The walkway is in a high alpine area and as such is prone to extreme weather.