Showing posts with label Benmore Hut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Benmore Hut. Show all posts

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Benmore Hut: Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands: 5th December

Heading up Thirteen Mile Bush Stream

For my weekend tramp, I decided to head into Benmore Hut in the Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park. Benmore Hut is located in a small area of bush about 6 km's from the bottom of Porters Pass and can be accessed from Benmore Station. There are other more difficult routes over the surrounding Benmore Range from near Lake Lyndon.
Route to Benmore Hut from Benmore Station

I had a "technical malfunction" on this trip, i.e. I plugged my camera battery in to charge but didn't actually turn on the power. As a result when I went to take my first photo the camera died on me. Bother! I have gathered a few images of the route and hut from the web to give you an idea of what the hut looks like, there are links to the original pages in the caption so please visit their home pages for more images.

To Benmore Hut from Benmore Station

 The track is a bit rough but easy to follow. It was dry on Saturday but I could see a lot of spots on the track where you would be wading through mud on a rainy day. 

SH 73: Benmore Station entrance on left near poplars

The car park for the track starts at Benmore Station, this is about 5 kilometres west of the Kowai River Bridge. The side road is gravel and is marked by a line of trees and a Benmore Station sign, this is the driveway for the station but can be used by people visiting Thirteen Mile Bush. There is a small DOC access sign about 50 meters up the drive so you know you are heading the right way.

Entrance to Benmore Station- DOC sign on right hand side

Benmore Station sign out on SH 73

Benmore Station driveway from SH 73

Normally, in a two wheel drive,  you follow the road to Ben More Station house, turn right and follow signs past various buildings to a muddy car park.On Saturday the gates were closed and a herd of cattle occupied the road, so I parked closer to the station and walked the last 500 meters to the car park. The cattle included a bull but I had no problems getting past them. I believe there have been some access problems in the past, I noticed the DOC access signs had been removed from the fences and piled up....a sign of trouble to come?

From the car park, a 4WD track heads off along the river terraces of Thirteen Mile Bush Stream. If you have a "rugged" 4 wheel drive you can probably make it to the second car park, but don't drive an ordinary car up here you will certainly get stuck.....! After half an hour of walking, you cross the Kowai River at an easy ford, and come to another car park, this is where 4WD vehicles need to stop.

Thirteen Mile Bush near Benmore Hut, from New Zealand Tramper

You cross a stile, then follow a marked route leading up the stream and along a fence line. Thirteen Mile Bush can be clearly seen as you walk along the track. The track crosses the stream a couple of times (all easy crossings),  goes under a fence and into the forest. It starts a moderately steep climb through beech forest sprinkled with some Halls Totora right up to the hut clearing.

View from the Benmore Hut clearing from Backcountry Bibles

Benmore Hut

The hut is reached after 2.5-3 hours and is visible for quite a distance due to its bright colour. The hut is owned by the NZDA, but is free to use by anyone who can make it here.

Another view from the Benmore Hut clearing, from Simo's website
A glance at the hut book shows that most visitors are day tripper's, hunters or overnight visits in the winter. There is a limited amount of space around the hut for a couple of tents. Here is the DOC information about Benmore Hut.

Newly painted Benmore Hut Exterior photo from Tramper NZ

Benmore Hut before painting

The hut sits on a saddle, with a constricted view of the foothills around Oxford.  Benmore Hut is a classic A Frame building with a steep pitched roof, it reminds me of the Lagoon Saddle A Frame but on a grander scale. The hut has recently been painted a glaringly bright safety orange,

Water is from a small rain barrel, it really needs one of the new large style plastic ones which are being installed at all of the DOC huts. Inside are two sacking bunks and a wooden platform bunk, all with mattresses, a fire box and home crafted table and benches.

Benmore Hut Interior from Backcountry Bibles
As you can see the interior is "rustic" but it looks completely serviceable, with the log burner going it would make for a cosy overnight stay. It looked like some hunters were staying in the hut, they were gone but their hunting gear was scattered about the place. After eating some snacks and refilling my water I headed back down the track to the car park.

Benmore Hut sign from Simo's website

I think this tramp would make a good introductory trip: close to Christchurch, easy to follow track,  you get river crossings, bush and a bit of a climb all within a short 2.5 hour time span. The hut looks like a nice place to stay for a night, I will have to come back sometime.Its the access that would be a problem, farmers can be a bit prickly about people crossing their land.

Access: Follow the Benmore Station drive way off SH 73, 5 kms west of the Kowhai River Bridge, turn right at end of drive and follow DOC signs. Also accessible from Lake Lyndon (this is a rough difficult to follow route)
Track times: 2.5-3 hours to Benmore Hut from the Station, same return
Hut Details: basic, 4 bunks, wood burner, small water tank, toilet
Miscellaneous: Could be some access issues with Benmore Station