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Gosling Hut

People of few words but much action the Marlborough Tramping Club. They already own and maintain the huts in the Hodder valley used by those climbing Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku. Gosling hut is their secret local spot up the Waihopai valley….

“Hi we have completed the up grade of the Gosling hut on 21-22 Nov. Eight volunteers had the weekend there. WE had the best of weather. So how do we get the grant monies”

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Two Mile Creek Hut

Restoring the Two Mile Hut, Remarkables Conservation Area

 by Ian Turnbull

Two Mile Hut in the Hector Mountains was built of local stone by John Cockburn, boundary keeper for the Kawarau Falls Run, about 1900. It was owned for many years by the Jardine family of Kawarau Falls, later to become Remarkables Station, and is mentioned in “Cap” Jardine’s book “Shadows on the Hill” (photo 1). Their mustering parties from the 1920’s to the 40’s have left a legacy on the rafters (photo 2).

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Two Mile Hut was used for mustering until the 1960’s, when these high basins, now part of Loch Linnhe Station, were retired from grazing. The hut then fell into disuse and dilapidation, until stumbled upon in July 1977 by a party of back country skiers on a Gibbston to Garston traverse (photo 3). These skiers, led by Ian (Mo) Turnbull, repaired and weatherproofed the hut in 1978, with the cooperation of Murray Scott of Loch Linnhe Station (photo 4). They used it as a base for more than thirty years when skiing, climbing and geologising in the Hector Mountains and Remarkables (photo 5). The hut also had occasional visits by trampers, hunters and mountaineers.

An episode of vandalism by heli-skiers in the 1980’s saw the sleeping platform, mattresses, hut book and all the coal and firewood burned, so the hut became just a shell. A second round of repairs by Ian Turnbull and friends rectified this in 1990.

Following tenure review of Loch Linnhe Station, Two Mile Hut became part of the Remarkables Conservation Area. With the increase in back country ski touring and tramping the hut received more usage and DOC upgraded the old mattresses and added signage.

In 2013, Ian Turnbull and Jane Forsyth saw that it was suffering from weathering by sun, rain, snow, and the growing number of visitors. They began the process of applying for funding from the Outdoor Recreation Consortium to do more serious repairs in early 2015. Ensuing consultations with DOC included a site visit with DOC staff in May 2015, and subsequent approval from their archaeologist to undertake the work on this historic hut. Jim Croawell, DOC Queenstown’s historic ranger, threw his enthusiasm and experience in restoring old stone huts into the project. A Memorandum of Understanding with DOC was signed in September, and the ORC application for funding for helicopter support was approved in December 2015.

In early February 2016 a team of Jim Croawell, Stew Hardie (ex DOC, of Frankton), Alan Knowles (Wellington, ex Queenstown, and one of the 1970’s skiing party), and Jane Forsyth and Ian Turnbull of Lake Hawea flew into Two Mile Creek with tools and building materials. Jim and Stew removed the roof and lead-headed nails, spliced some of the old 4×1 purlins, lined and replaced the roof, and added flashings to the roof and around the chimney. They also replaced the old makeshift door installed in 1978 with a replica of the original, using the original hinges which had been carefully stashed behind the hut. Alan, Jane and Ian re-mortared the whole hut with a lime and local mud mixture brewed to Jim and Stew’s secret recipe, and dug a drainage ditch around the back (photos 6-14). A final brew in the fireplace celebrated the fact that the old Two Mile Hut should now last another hundred years.

Funds for helicopter support for the Two Mile Hut restoration came from the NZ Outdoor Recreation Consortium. In addition, the Department of Conservation, via Chris Hankin and Jim Croawell, provided transport, materials and tools, camping gear and food during the work in Two Mile Creek, and a great deal of Jim Croawell’s time; the project would never have succeeded without him and Stew Hardie.

*The Two Mile Hut is still small, dark, and dusty. It has two mattresses, but can sleep more. There is no easy access (see Moir’s Guide North). The best route is via “Skingut Pass” from the South Branch of Wye Creek. The area does have good campsites and reliable water. Access from SH6 requires prior permission from Loch Linnhe Station.

 

Captions

Photo 1: Two Mile Hut in the 1930’s (from Jardine, “Shadows on the Hill”)

Photo 2: “Dipping muster roll 1936” (Ian Turnbull foto)

Photo 3: Max Garden, Alan Knowles and Chris Jackson at the derelict hut, July 1977 (Ian Turnbull foto)

Photo 4: Max Garden, Dave Clough and Chris Jackson fixing the hut, September 1978 (Ian Turnbull foto)

Photo 5: Winter at the Two Mile Hut, September 1999 (Ian Turnbull foto)

 

Hut repairs, February 2016:

Photo 6: Ian Turnbull and Stew Hardie inside, before roof removed (Jane Forsyth foto)

Photo 7: Jim Croawell off for smoko: front roof removed (Ian Turnbull foto)

Photo 8: Stew Hardie fixing the purlins (Alan Knowles foto)

Photo 9: Rear roof partly repaired (Jane Forsyth foto)

Photo 10: Rear roof replaced (Jane Forsyth foto)

Photo 11: Alan Knowles mortaring (Ian Turnbull foto)

Photo 12: Jane Forsyth beside the new door; old door by chimney (Ian Turnbull foto)

Photo 13: South wall renewed (Ian Turnbull foto)

Photo 14: Two Mile Hut, Hector Mountains, good for another hundred years (Ian Turnbull foto)

 

 

 

Old Ghost Road

The Outdoor Recreation Consortium was able to make a couple of small grants through Trailfund NZ to contribute to the colossal project that is the Old Ghost Road…

Commitment completes century-old trail

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. In the case of Old Ghost Road, where gold lust failed, modern vision prevailed, albeit more than a century later. In mid-December, thanks to more than one hundred thousand hours of work, and support from government, individuals and groups such as Trail Fund NZ, the much-anticipated 85km mountain biking and tramping track is set to open.

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“It’s strange to think that a project which begun so long for one purpose could be completed more than 130 years later by a group with an entirely different agenda,” says Rhys Bowen, a former volunteer who now works full time managing volunteer building and maintenance.

Located in the Buller district, the Old Ghost Road was inspired by – and based upon – the unfulfilled 19th century vision of linking the lucrative gold fields at Lyell (on the Buller River) with promising new ones on the Mokohinui River. However, the Lyell and Glasgow Ranges proved too much to tackle for the miners – but not for those whose purpose was to enjoy the views from those very mountaintops.

The beginning of the (literally)long road to completing the age-old project started in 2007, when local Ron Humphries came into possession of an original copy of the 1886 reconnaissance survey for the road. He quickly teamed up with local lodge owner Marion Boatwright, environmental practitioner Phil Rossiter and local helicopter pilot Wayne Pratt. After one scouting mission, they were sold.

“What I saw in these three fellows was the essential blend of child-like wonder and manly can-do,” said Marion. “Here was a team that could dream something, make it happen, and have a damn good time doing it. Nine years and 85 kilometres later I’d say I was right!”

However, at that point they knew there was a long road ahead. While the old track had been carved 18 kilometres up the Lyell gorge, all that work had been left to die as gold fever subsided and the 1929 Murchison earthquake buried huge sections of the track formation. In 1968, the Inangahua quake tried to erase the rest.

To carry forward with the project, they would need funding, and to get funding, they needed an official organisation – thus the Mokihinui-Lyell Backcountry Trust was formed and the real building began.

However, funding alone would never have been sufficient, but the original five pioneers’ enthusiasm to revive the old road was infectious enough to instigate the next nine years of trail building, including more than 26,000 volunteer hours from New Zealanders and foreigners alike.

“To manage the sheer number of people who wanted to help and the effort and hours involved, we had to coordinate work, safety and shelter carefully,” says Rhys. “That pattern of hut building in advance of the track crews would prove to be an essential backbone of the project’s success. Crews functioned much better if they could return to a warm and dry abode each night, with their only commute being from hut to the workface.”

With hut building, the project’s volunteer ethic really came into its own. Wayne would fly in all of the tools and materials needed for construction, plus a three-man team, a month’s worth of food, and the secret ingredient – one month’s worth of beer. Ironically, the team was all-American – Marion and two long time mates from North Carolina – Art Corn and Dale Robertson.

The actual track building was quite gruelling work – one six-kilometre section, from the Lyell Saddle to the open tussock, took the crew almost a year to build and other sections needed to be built completely by hand, without impacting the fragile alpine ecosystem. But, no matter what the challenge, the army of volunteers’ desire to see this incredible road completed met it head on.

 

Building the Old Ghost Road took more than volunteer hut and track builders – excavators, trail designers, coordinators, funding applicants and funding bodies all played a part in this extraordinary mission.

“No single person has all the skills. Without any one of the many individuals doing their part, this dream might have died a folly,” says Marion.

Rhys, who only came on board as a volunteer about 22 months ago, couldn’t bring himself to leave and looks forward to seeing the opening in December – when people from around the country and the world can access the exquisite adventure he and so many others helped create.

“It’s the most incredible project I’ve ever had the opportunity to be involved in. The elements and the physical nature of the work are exceptionally challenging, at times walking two hours a day to get to/from work, being outside all day at 1000m above sea level, living out of a hut for up to three weeks at a time, and working in some pretty atrocious weather.  But I wouldn’t change a thing!”

Cone Creek Track

Over a sunny weekend in mid-March, Cone Creek Track was marked and cut from the bushline down to Cone Creek Hut and from the hut down to the Haupiri River confluence.

This was achieved with 14 volunteers from Dunedin, Christchurch, Nelson and Greymouth.

On Saturday morning two helicopter loads of people and equipment were flown to Cone Creek Hut, while a third load was flown to the tops in order to cut the track down to the hut. Two others walked up from the hut with permolat to mark the track down from the tops. The remaining team began cutting the track down toward the Haupiri and made it as far as the dry creek, where the track follows Cone Creek bed for a few hundred metres.

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On Saturday night, everyone enjoyed a celebration marking 50 years since Cone Creek Hut was constructed. It also happened to be my 30th birthday. Beer and a large cake were eaten alongside venison back steaks, and ram curry (The deer and ram were both gathered in the Haupiri Valley).  A moment was taken to remember Rex Taylor, who had plans to cut Cone Creek Track, prior to his death in 2012 while tramping in the Mikonui Valley.

Track cutting and marking continued on Sunday, to the point were it is now easy to follow and travel all the way from the Hut to the Haupiri River confluence. The two gullies, 15min and 30min from the hut have been remarked and steps benched were necessary. Around an hour down from the hut, the track exits onto boulders of Cone Creek. Cairns were built marking the few hundred metres of travel down over the boulders then a new entry and new section of track was cut and marked straight up out of the Creek to meet up with the old track.

On this old section of track, the team did a significant amount of track clearing and re-marking. Multiple windfalls were cut and cleared to make this section now very easy going. The track continues on a steady sidle for around 1km, where it abruptly drops back down to the Cone Creek bed.  After a kilometre of easy river travel the entry to the final section of track is well marked by a sharp bend in the river and a big band of exposed bedrock.

The final section of track is currently easy to follow, but could do with a trim and some re-marking in the next few years.  a bag of pre-cut permolat has been left under an obvious arching tree, at the point in the track opposite the hot pools.  BYO nails and hammer. A minor inconvenience to the track marking team, was the lack of suitable nails. Unfortunately, the three inch nails that were thought to be under the hut were not there, and a handful of 4 inch jolt head nails were all that was available.

With the track in it’s current state allow 5-7hours travel from the new DOC car-park to Cone Creek Hut.  A mountain bike is useful for traveling up the first section of road and 4×4 track up the Haupiri River.

Thank you to the volunteers that helped out and to FMC for providing the funds to fly in.

Black Birch Hut

The Black Birch Hut relocation was the largest project undertaken to date under the Ferny Gair Memorandum of Understanding the Marlborough Branch of NZDA has with DOC.

Phase 1 of the project was completed before winter 2015 and entailed the use of a heavy lift helicopter to relocate the original biv from its old location. Phase 1 got the biv relocated, re-piled, water tank installed and closed in against the elements before winter.

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Phase 2 has completed the whole project including adding a porch, steps, long drop toilet, concrete steps and a host of other minor work to bring the biv / hut up to standard. A meatsafe and an NZDA rifle rack were also installed and the biv is now well appointed for the future.

Even over the winter period the partially complete hut had a steady series of visitors more than the biv had over more than a year in its old location so the project has been a good success story.

Some key numbers:

– Number of volunteers: 10: Onsite crew 5. Committee 3. Others 2.

– Hours of volunteer work: 106

– Number of huts maintained:

– Track km maintained: 5

 

This hut is one of 4 located in the Ferny Gair block which is maintained by the Marlborough Branch NZDA under an MOU with DOC.

 

Te Iringa

Get your epic on

Deep in Kaimanawa Forest Park, with neither a berm nor flattop to be found, there exists a hidden gem of adventure. Starting 40km from the nearest town, the 38km return, out-and-back, Te Iringa trail offers a challenging and exhilarating ride through ancient, untouched forest.

Following an old Maori route, the Grade 4 / 5 trail has been a ‘must do’ tramping track for years. The Dept of Conservation finally opened it to mountain bikers two years ago as a trial. Since then, the combined efforts of the Hawkes Bay Mountain Bike, Taupo Mountain Bike and Bike Taupo clubs have been hard at work, with help from sponsors and Trail Fund NZ, making the trail less hike and more bike.

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“The trail, which had already been dubbed a ‘favourite’ for many adventurous riders thanks to its rewarding and technical terrain, saw a vast improvement in rideability earlier in 2015 thanks to the $11,000 grant it received from the Community Conservation Partnership Fund through Trail Fund,” says Carl Larsen of the Hawkes Bay Mountain Bike Club.

“We managed to complete a significant amount of work including clearing windfall, opening up ruts, clearing old slips, cutting back brush and putting water control in place.”

Since the clean up, feedback has been extremely positive, prompting the clubs to carry out further work on the backcountry track.

“The first grant allowed us to clean up the trail from the carpark through to the Tikitiki Stream crossing, which is just over the halfway point,” says Larsen.

“Thanks to a second CCPF grant of $17,500, we are planning to complete the job all the way through to the hut, making it more feasible for mountain bikers to complete the entire track and/or take advantage of the overnight option.”

The grant will enable a significant amount of work to be done, including vegetation control, re-aligning the track around boggy areas, fixing up hill climbs, repairing water cut-outs, clearing windfalls and establishing a single-track line that rides well without taking away the backcountry feel of the route.

“Te Iringa is, and will remain, an epic adventure ride,” says Larsen. “Our goal isn’t to lesson the technical aspect, and it should only be ridden by skilled and fit riders, but we do want to encourage less walking and more biking, as well as getting more people to enjoy this pristine and remote experience.”

With giant roots, loamy soil and some inner encouragement required, this relatively secret backcountry trail is worth the effort. Giant ferns and ancient trees line a technical climb over loamy soil and roots towards the old burnt down Te Iringa hut. Roots as big as small trees meander across the trail in just a couple places, without so much as a chain ring mark on them – an indication to the traffic these secret back country trails see.

As an “out and back” ride, riders get a really good chance to scope some lines up the first climb for the return descent and, while some of it looks unrideable, it’s just about manning up and sticking to your line. This first 4km section up to the old hut site clearing can also be done as a return ride on its own for the intermediate level riders, as the grade 5 terrain isn’t until later up the trail.

Continuing on from the old hut site, the trail climbs a little more, before traversing Mt Te Iringa (this section contains the rugged bike carry’s and is where the grade 5 Epic rating of the trail is contained within), before it descends into fast, flowy fun across the ancient beech forest dirt for a 30 minute descent, ending abruptly at the tight switchbacks above the Tikitiki Stream  – a great challenge for those wanting to prove their trials skills.

From here, it’s another 1.5 hours to reach Oamaru hut, which has just been refurbished and sleeps up to 12 people, for an overnighter and the return ride back the next day. Or, for those  just doing a day trip can either turn around at Tikitiki Stream, or continue on as far as the swing bridge (another 30 minutes along the trail, at approx 12.5km from the carpark), before the return ride. (Before the improvements in 2015, this took approx 3 hours each way).

Located just 40 minutes drive from Taupo, or 90 minutes from Napier, (including 15 minutes drive west off SH5) Te Iringa is not to be missed!

 

 

 

Elcho Hut

NZAC maintain a network of backcountry huts, both for their members and the outdoor public. These huts are generally Alpine Huts or Basecamps but the odd one is below bushline and used by a wide variety of people. Elcho Hut in the Hopkins is one of these. The Outdoor Recreation Consortium has been able to support the maintenance of this hut, specifically a project to replace ageing wooden windows with modern aluminiun framed windows. Thank you to the volunteers of the North Otago Brach of NZAC for this effort and your continued contribution to the backcountry.

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“We took advantage of the fine weather in the weekend and had a successful work party at Elcho Hut. Two vehicles and six people. 

The new aluminium windows were installed, trim and flashings fitted and painted, wood-shed stocked with firewood, wood burner bolted to the concrete pad, and rodent bait stations fixed in place.

The new windows look good and have tidied the hut, letting more light in and improving the view.

The drive in and out was eventful and both vehicles got stuck and needed towing, once at the same time. Another 4wd nearby came to the rescue. A good reminder not to venture up the Hopkins with just one truck.  The river was much higher than it is in winter.”