Tunnel Creek

One of the flagship projects of the first year of the Outdoor Recreation Consortium was Geoff Spearpoint and friends restoration of Tunnel Creek Hut in the Paringa. 6 people, 608 hours, a hut and nearby tracks looking a million dollars.

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Read Geoff’s detailed report on the project here:TUNNEL CREEK HUT

Or another good read is Geoff’s ‘How To’ guide on adopting Backcountry Huts:Adopting a Home in the Mountains

High Country Horse Paddocks

The High Country Pleasure Riders Club do a great job encouraging backcountry horse-riding. Their projects include building new horse paddocks at the following backcountry huts: Ahuriri Base, Top Dingle, Snowy Gorge and Top Hut. Below is an update from Peter Reid

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“I am pleased to advise you that the High Country Pleasure Riders club has completed the building of horse pens under the Ahuriri project heading.
Below is a compilation of time involved and photographs. Mileage is unknown for the whole project but I personally travelled 1350 km undertaking the work. On the weekend rides involved members would have travelled on average 2-3 hrs to reach each destination. Although we could build the pens in about 2 hrs , most of the work was incorporated into 2-3 day rides over last few months.

30/9/15 Buy materials and pack into pen lots for transport
2/10/15 Travel up to Birchwood in Ahuriri valley to meet helicopter and fly materials into Top Dingle, Top Ahuriri, Snowy Gorge and Dodger huts in Ahuriri and hopkins Valleys.
3/10/15 Travel up to Quailburn and erect pen above old woolshed.
7-8-9/11/15 Club ride up to Red hut , Hopkins valley, put up pen at hut, 17 riders. Next day 9 riders carried on up river to Dodger hut to put up pen there and return
21-22/11/15 Club ride up to Snowy Gorge hut Ahuriri Valley and erect pen there, ride back out next day. 10 riders.
5-6-7/3/16 Club ride over into Top Dingle hut, 14 riders, and put up pen, camped night and out next day, 8 riders carried on up Ahuriri valley to Top Hut and put up pen there. camp night and ride out next day.
24/4/16 Travel up to Birchwood to Ahuriri base hut and build last pen. Myself and one other member.

It has been a very worthwhile exercise as far as club is concerned and DoC has been impressed at work undertaken, we also cleared a bush track at Quailburn that had really bad windfallen trees for them as
well so we could ride through it and allowed walkers access as well.

Thanks again for the opportunity and funding to carry out this work, we can now make better use of these areas knowing our horses will be safe in the pens overnight where we left them.

Peter Reid
High Country Pleasure Riders Club”

Yeats Hut

An update from Paul Reid who has taken the lead on a number of hut projects working through the Permolat group. Good work mate!

Thought I’d give you an update re progress.

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Yeats Ridge Hut: Mid April, myself & 2 others headed in for 3-days. Am working on the trip report but we did the following:
  • Sanded back the 2 window surrounds & window sills, applied primer, undercoat & top coat
  • Sanded back the door architraves, applied primer, undercoat & top coat
  • Removed the door, wire brushed, sanded, washed down, applied primer x2, undercoat & top coat
  • Removed wooden step & replaced with a concrete step complete with a flagstone
  • Removed & replaced lower door flashing
  • Replaced door (lower) stud on hinge side
  • Cut back vegetation from base of hut
  • Cut back vegetation within a 2m radius of hut
  • Cut 160-180m of ‘flax encroached’ track from the bush-line to the river (was hard work)
  • Cut & marked track from the bush-line to the hut. Put up more permolat & cruise tape
  • Installed hut signs
  • Took in a new mattress
  • Dug several ‘test’ holes for a possible new toilet.
Frisco Hut: 4-day trip postponed due to inclement weather.
Campbell Biv: DOC have completed their own recent ‘hut inspection’ & provided me with their photos & findings.
Top Trent Hut: 4-day trip planned. Heading in 26-29 April.
Top Crooked Hut: Trip planned for mid to late May.
P.s. Great to see so much fantastic volunteer work being done around the country.

Flora Hut Update


Great to get a report from Pat Holland off the Nelson Tramping Club on the completion of their Flora Hut project. An Article also appeared in Stuff

The weekend of 16-17 April 2016 saw a flurry of activity at Flora Hut to bring the project to completion. This followed huge efforts in February by Silvano, Lawrie, Ian and Graeme to line the ceilings and walls of the W bunk-room with plywood, similar to what had been done for the E bunk-room in 2015. This had been very fiddly due to the panels being placed between existing structures rather than over.

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So on Saturday a team of 8 assembled at Flora. The morning had been balmy in Nelson and the weather remained fine and calm for the whole w/e although on arrival at Flora hut we were greeted by an impressive hoar frost. The main tasks were to complete the polyurethaning of the plywood panels and to prepare and paint all other exposed interior woodwork in both bunk-rooms. This required a sustained effort over both days – it was especially tricky NOT to get paint on the panels. There was some relief for the tired work-crew on the Sunday with the arrival of 4 more workers. The bunk-rooms have come up a treat with the off-white structural timbers standing out from the dark wall and ceiling panels.

In a parallel effort Graeme and Bob installed a water system from the side creek down to a spigot outside the hut on the loo side. This included a sediment trap and about 100m of pipe which proved tricky to lay so the water would flow without priming. The open fireplaces were enhanced by galvanised hoods and wall vents were also installed. These improvements have largely solved the problem of smoke and the fireplaces now work well to heat the rooms that were cold and drafty prior to the renovation. Participants (April):  Pat Holland, Ian and Marilyn Morris, Graeme Ferrier, Bob Janssen, Marie Lenting, Kathy Smith, Steve McGlone, Dion Pont, Kate Krawcyzk, John Whibley, Tim Tyler (+Sophie).

So NTC has met the broad aims of the 3-year project with the full renovation of the hut to a high standard: firstly to preserve the hut for the future whilst retaining its character, secondly to improve the experience especially for young families and thirdly to extend the season for the hut into winter. Hopefully we can organise a semi-formal opening/PR effort in the near future. Thanks for the excellent support from club members especially Ian, Graeme and Silvano, from DOC and staff (Tom Young, Matt Page) and from the Outdoor Recreation Fund.

Eade Hut: Part 2

We reckon Michael Wilson’s write-ups of the hut maintaining adventures of the South Canterbury branch of the NZDA are great, have a read:

Eade Memorial Hut
By Michael Wilson

Eade Memorial Hut lies near the head of the Godley Valley, above Lake Tekapo. 4WD vehicle access is possible up the true left of the valley to Red Stag hut, our most recent improvement project, and a little beyond. Past Red Stag (6 bed), about an hours walk from the edge of driveable terrain, also lies the NZ Alpine Club’s Godley Hut (8 bed). On the true right, just a few kilometres further than Red Stag, lies Eade (3 bed). However, as a very tricky glacial river splits the valley, access to Eade is not as simple as just driving to it!

Eade Hut crew

Following the usual delay for weather, in this case severe gale nor-westerlies, our Thursday to Sunday trip was now scheduled for Sunday to Wednesday, with most of the volunteers to head up the valley on Saturday to be in place for the helicopter arrival at Red Stag hut on Sunday morning. Saturday mid-afternoon and I was picked up from Fairlie by Grant Shortus and Noel Welford. The trip went smoothly until the crossing point of the Macaulay river was reached, where, just a few metres short of the far bank, a bed of gravel with just a few inches of water flowing over it proved very soft and embedded the vehicle to the sills in no time at all. Phone calls were made and our local contact for the project, Johnny Wheeler at Lilybank, came to the rescue. Thanks Johnny!

Progress resumed, we continued on our way up the valley. A short time before eventually reaching Red Stag, we met up with two more of the volunteers, Mike Bunkenberg and Michael Midgley. They had decided to start up the valley earlier in the afternoon, however this had been of little benefit to them, as Michael’s truck had now sheared a ball-joint. Leaving the repairs for a later date when they could return with parts, we fitted them in to our vehicle and carried on to the hut for the night.

The nor-west wind had still been present for much of the day, dying away in the evening, although it picked up strongly again around 4AM, waking a few of us. This continued for much of the early morning, placing some jeopardy on the expected arrival of the helicopter. However, the wind began to drop around 8:30, and soon after that we heard the heavy beat of Tekapo Helicopter’s AS350 Squirrel as it lifted the toilet and building materials into position, along with project leader David Keen. After that it collected us from Red Stag for the 2-minute hop across the valley, before leaving us in silence once again. Tent sites were quickly found along the sheltered scrub-edge near the hut, before tasks were set and the team got straight to work.

Eade hut was in poor shape cosmetically, clad in bare iron with a healthy coating of rust. This rust was addressed first, scrubbed with wire brushes and then chemically treated. Primer was applied and the first coat of paint began to follow, thanks to the Dulux paint for huts scheme. It proved to be a bit of a race to get the paint off the brush, as the temperature was high and the nor-wester still blew, although the wind was much reduced in the sheltered location of the hut under the moraine wall. Further down the scrub edge, the rest of the team had begun work digging the hole for the new toilet. This was expected to be one of the more gruelling tasks of the project, just as the same task at Red Stag had proved due to the seemingly endless rocks and boulders uncovered there. No mini-digger this time, we had Grant!

Almost beyond belief to most of us, the ground at the chosen spot yielded easily, barring the odd small layer of stones, and was deep enough to accomodate the drum within a couple of hours, instead of the expected day or more of frustrating digging. Dave quickly knocked together his pre-cut platform, which was then anchored into position before the the toilet itself was manoeuvred into place on top and secured. Job done.

Back to the hut for a bit of late lunch, then more painting continued while a couple of us began work on installing the LED lights and running the wiring. This was slow and fiddly work, in the heat of the hut! While the solar panel would not be fitted until painting was complete, we managed to complete the rest of the interior setup, getting a chance to see the lights in action. Soon enough the evening drew in and we took a moment to consider just how much of a change we’d achieved in one day. The hut now sported a new colour scheme, with the first coats complete on the roof, walls, and even inside the porch. The LED lighting was much appreciated inside the hut that night.

Monday morning dawned cool, as expected, with a touch of moisture in the air. This was the day the weather forecasts had warned us about, with a southerly change expected to bring showers. Luckily for us, the southerly was gentle and soon dissipated, and barring the morning clag around the hills, it proved to be another clear and warm day. Perfect for painting! Those faced with that task got to work bright and early, before the sun struck the hut, while I in turn also picked up a brush and began applying the first coat of stain to the weather-worn timbers around the base of the hut. New timber battens were then cut and painted to go on the roof and the guttering and log fire were both removed from the hut for some rust-proofing, with the guttering also painted before reinstallation. Once the third coat of paint was dried on the roof, we fitted the new wooden battens to the wire bracing, and then fixed the solar panel in place before running the last of the wiring.

Mid-afternoon, a young bull tahr was spotted making his way up the riverbed. With the whole working-party stopped to observe, he made his way within 300 metres of the hut before continuing along up the riverbed and out of sight. We all enjoyed the encounter and left him in peace, hoping he may one day grow into a worthy trophy.

At this point, the exterior of the hut was now complete and a moment was taken for Dave and Michael Midgley to fit the new sign. Michael’s involvement seemed particularly appropriate, as his father had been a member of the original team who had brought the hut up the valley and onto location in 1963. Michael had also played a part in the original fit-out of the hut, when he along with a friend, had carried the bunks across the glacial river.

While we hadn’t sighted many other tahr, that evening a couple of mature-looking bulls were spotted picking their way well down the mountainside, so Mike Bunkenberg and Noel, keen to nab some meat for the freezer, fetched their rifles and made their way up the hill to try and head them off. After a short stand-off observed from the hut, Noel eventually managed to secure his first mature bull just before dark.

The next day was to prove much more relaxed, as the majority of the work had been completed and all that remained were any small unplanned jobs we could find to do. Grant made a fine job of colour-coding the benches from inside the hut to match the external paint scheme, while the interior of the hut was also given a coat of paint to tidy up most surfaces. Further tidying was also done in and around the hut, as we enjoyed this last day on-site. Soon enough the lazy heat of the afternoon dissipated into a surprisingly cold night, with temperatures dropping low enough to form a thin sheet of ice on the surface of a water bowl. Welcome to autumn!

The final morning dawned, and after breakfast we broke camp and completed tidying the site, before some final photos and a look back on all we’d achieved in just a few days. All too soon the helicopter touched down and we began our journey home, more than ready for a hot shower, but all the better for our time in the hills.
The Huts and Tracks Fund from the Outdoor Recreation Consortium has proven to be of significant benefit to the backcountry facilities provided by our branch. By shouldering the financial load, the fund has allowed us to show just how willing our volunteers are to put in the time and effort. With our 3 huts now brought up to date, and hopefully all set for another 10 years, we really appreciate the help, and we’re sure all the users of our huts will too!

Our thanks must go to – The ORC, NZDA and FMC in their partnership distribution of this fund, DOC for the project support, Dulux for the paint, David Keen Building, Tekapo Helicopters, KM Electronics, Johnny Wheeler at Lilybank, and last but not least, all of the volunteers who have given days of their time without complaint, all for the benefit of others.

A special thanks to David Keen, as the driving force behind our hut work of recent times, and for his immense generosity in both time and supplies for these projects.

Cascade Hut

The Outdoor Recreation Consortium supported NZAC to replace the roof of the historic Cascade Hut in 2015.

“Martin Curtis and Bob White spent 5 days in total, completely replacing the roof of Cascade Hut. 80 man hours.

The purloins and rafters were doubled up with new treated timber and a new colour steel roof was fitted, along with new ridge cap and end flashings.   The result is a straight roof throughout, which is totally weatherproof and which should last for another 80 years.”

NZAC encourages public use of the hut to assist in funding its ongoing maintenance, “we would love more people and families, especially, to stay. Anyone can call (03) 377 7595 for the door code.”

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Kay Creek Hut

Geoff Ockwell and the University of Otago PE School in partnership with DOC and the Southern Lakes NZDA have recently completed a do-up of the Kay Creek hut. Kay Creek drains into the well-known Caples valley.

A further report will follow, but in the meantime check out the “After” photos. It sure looks like they had a lot of fun…

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Tunnel Creek Hut

Geoff Spearpoint and friends restoration of the Tunnel Creek hut was one of the first projects completed with support from Outdoor Recreation Consortium funding. The project really is a fantastic example of what kiwi outdoors people can contribute to the places that are important to them.

Geoff has provided a detailed and practical write-up of the process that he went through with this project. Read his full report here: Tunnel Creek Hut Report

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Awakino Skifield Hut

Project: Awakino Skifield Hut

Lead: Waitaki Ski Club
The Waitaki Ski Club, operates Awakino Ski Area in the traditional mould of New Zealand ski clubs. The field is entirely run by volunteers, who open the field on weekends when the snow provides good turns. The field consists of a 35 bunk full service hut, day lodge, and rope tows. As well as being used for downhill skiing, the field serves as a base for snow craft instruction courses, snow shoeing trips, ski tourers, botanists, mountain bikers and scouting groups. The lodge is unlocked, and can be booked by the general public.

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Recent years have seen much needed maintenance put into the buildings on the field. This has included internal and external painting, roofing work, deck construction, the installation of an efficient log burner, and a high efficiency LED solar powered lighting system. Last but not least is the replacement of old kapok mattresses with modern fire resistant mattresses for a comfortable and hygienic nights sleep, with funding assistance from the Outdoor Recreation Consortium.

Number of volunteers involved: 5
Volunteer Hours: 22.5

Murphy’s Biv

Project Name: Murphy’s Bivy Chimney
Project Leader: Mike Lagan

To replace the wind damaged Chimney at Murphy’s Bivy, Murphy’s Stream, Havelock Valley, Canterbury.

On Easter Sunday, 27th April 2016, Siobhan Lagan and Quintin McDonald and I departed from the Mt Sunday Carpark, Rangitata, in Tekapo Helicopters B2 Squirrel to Murphy’s Bivy. The sling load with tools and the chimney panels arrived on the 2nd flight.

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Work progressed on Sunday until 5.00pm, and then a quick walk up the valley to look for Tahr, 2 bull Tahr where spotted back down the valley opposite the Bivy but were on to us by the time we got back just before dark.

Monday morning, work continued on the chimney construction and painting. We then recut the track from the Bivy to the stream and also cut a new track approx. 40m through the Alpine scrub to the shingle clearing we were using for a chopper pad. This track was also cleared to enable future Bivy users to go a lot further from the Bivy to relieve themselves as there was evidence of toilet waste close to and at the back wall of the Bivy. I left my spade at the Bivy in the hope people will bury their waste.

By 3.00pm Monday afternoon, we had completed what work we could and again headed up the valley looking for Tahr. We saw several different groups of nannies and several lone Bulls of which one, Quintin was able to shoot and recover. This was his 1st Tahr. We finally got back to the Bivy at 10.30pm and after a late meal, managed to climb into sleeping bags by midnight, but as a photo below shows, we still had time to light the fire to see how well the chimney worked.

At 10.00am Tuesday, the Tekapo Helicopters Hughes 500 arrived and again made 2 trips out to Mt Sunday, this time the sling load was the old chimney and other rubbish from around and under the Bivy including the remains of the original roll of malthoid from when the Bivy was built.

The weather for the 3 days could not have been better however our intention to trim and mark the track down Murphy’s stream did not happen due the Chimney taking longer than expected so the Triangle markers, Waratah sleeves and Waratah’s were left at the Bivy for another day.

The Hut book shows increasing use of the Bivy, mostly by hunters and I’m thinking a toilet will need to be considered for the future.


– 3 volunteers:
– 71.5 hours of volunteer work:
– 1 hut maintained:
– 100m of track maintained:
– Total cost of materials, Spade and Fuel/Ruc this project $3894.74