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Hut and Track News June 2012

posted Jun 15, 2012, 3:36 AM by Robert Wopereis
 Kahurangi National Park
The second year of a three year trial of mountain biking on the Heaphy Track began at the beginning of May and huts are heavily booked on the weekends. An upgrade has been carried out on a 3.5 kilometre section of the track in the MacKay Hill area. The work was carried out after a $5,000 donation by the Nelson Mountain Bike Club and another $5,500 for materials was given by mountain bike businesses. An estimated 1700 mountain bikers rode the track last year.
The building of the new hut at Perry Saddle was expected to be completed at the end of May. The old hut will then be demolished and the site will be used for the campground. Then the construction of the new Heaphy Hut will commence, with completion expected by the end of the year. New swingbridges have also been constructed over Swan Burn and Gunner River on the Heaphy Track.
Chaffey Hut in the Cobb Valley is being restored in a joint effort by NZDA members assisted by DOC. Built in 1953-1954; the dilapidated two-bunk hut is a favourite stopping point on trips to Fenella Hut, further up the Cobb Valley. The restoration work commenced on Monday 16th April by five or six volunteers from the Deerstalkers Association and one DOC staff member. After 16 days continuous work the hut was 90% rebuilt but is not yet ready to be opened to the public. The remaining work will occur in shorter stints over the next few weeks, with no date yet set for completion.
A new footbridge has been built spanning Kiwi Stream near its confluence with the Wangapeka River during March/April. The 26 metre bridge which cost $40,000 makes access to Kiwi Saddle Hut safer and also makes Mt Patriarch and Luna Saddle more accessible. An old hand cable which was used by trampers to cross the Kiwi Stream was removed because it had encouraged some trampers to cross the stream when it was high, risking being swept downstream and into the Wangapeka River. The bridge was planned in 2004, designed by DOC, and built by Christchurch company Solutions2 in a fortnight.
Huts on the Leslie-Karamea track have suffered damage to the floors as a result of fishermen wearing spikes and instep crampons into the huts, particularly Crow Hut. Fishermen have also been staying extended periods in the huts when use is limited to three consecutive nights, which ensures the huts remain accessible for other users. The long-stay visitors have also flown in gear, including suitcases, which has occupied a large amount of space within the huts as well as being out of character with what people expect. DOC invites any feedback on these issues.
The Wangapeka and Karamea Valley tracks have been cleared during late summer. These tracks are in good condition as far as Little Wanganui Hut.
Mt Arthur Hut has been repainted with the help of volunteers. DOC is also seeking funding for the proposed replacement of this eight bunk hut in the future. The new 16 bunk hut could be relocated 20 metres higher up the ridge to above the bushline and would include improved living space to cater for the 21,000 visitors per year that the hut receives. DOC is keen to hear interested parties views about the hut replacement, should it look like funding is possible.
Abel Tasman National Park
An upgrade of the car park at Wainui (Abel Tasman Coast Track entrance) is planned. The car park and neighbouring Tui Community land are still suffering from sediment deposition after the December floods.
The Totaranui Road is planned to be officially opened on Friday 29th June after repairs to the major slips and washouts resulting from the December floods.
Awapoto Hut roof has been repaired after a tree fell on it. Windfalls have been cleared from the Inland Abel Tasman track.
Project Janszoon - a private family trust - has funded the first five years of a 30 year project to reverse the impacts that pest plants and animals are having on the Abel Tasman National Park and foreshore. The project aims to align with the efforts of the Birdsong Trust and Tasman District Council (Torrent Bay Community) and DOC conservation projects to ensure that the greatest difference possible can be made to the park. Project Janszoon is not seeking any profile or other benefits. One of the first projects is the establishment of 60 kilometres of stoat trap lines throughout 4000 hectares in the Wainui Valley, Canaan and Evans Ridge during July and August.
Planning is underway for the replacement of Anchorage Hut next year. The new hut will increase capacity by ten bunks to 34 to help meet demand and provide a similar level of accommodation to the neighbouring 34 bunk Bark Bay Hut. The new hut will have four bunkrooms and increased living space and will be better designed to accommodate the larger visitor numbers the hut has experienced, the busiest hut in the country. The existing hut will be closed and dismantled in May 2013 to enable the new hut to be constructed in a similar location.
Nelson Lakes National Park
Following the major avalanche behind John Tait Hut four years ago, remedial work has been carried out behind the hut to divert water and snow. In addition the hut is being managed in terms of avalanche risk and can be closed if necessary. Additional protection could be designed for the hut as well as checking out changing water patterns to the stream behind the hut.
The pre-Christmas floods resulted in the loss of the West Sabine swingbridge and final planning is now underway for its replacement during spring. In normal flows trampers have been able to cross the West Branch Sabine River safely but it has affected numbers and patterns with higher use of the Travers Valley side valley huts. One of the Travers Valley swingbridge towers was also damaged when the river changed direction and cut into the structure. Temporary repairs were carried out but it was thought it would eventually undermine and collapse. A replacement spare bridge is being installed during June.
No definite long term plan has been decided about the shelters on Mt Robert. As a short term measure DOC is considering locking Relax Shelter (to preserve its historic fabric). During May some remedial work was undertaken on Bushedge Shelter (including removing lead head nails).
Another stage has been completed of Paddys Track upgrade on Mt Robert. There is now only one more year for the Paddys/Pinchgut upgrade programme.
Mt Richmond Forest Park
New signage is going in at the track junction at Mt Starveall Hut to emphasise the emergency wet weather route down the Lee Valley. This follows the tragic drowning in December last year where a tramper tried to descend to Hacket Hut in poor weather conditions.
There is no vehicle access to the Maitai Dam until mid-August because of the construction of a secondary water pipeline to Nelson city. This is a continuation of the closure of the Maitai Valley Road from last November, which was originally planned to only continue until May. This affects access to the tracks to the Maitai Cave, Dun Mountain, Rush Pool, Dew Lakes and Maungatapu Track.
Walking access to the Maitai Dam is available from where the road is closed at Smiths Ford on the Maitai Valley Road and takes about an hour.
West Coast
Kirwans Hut near Reefton has been renovated during April. The hut's classic eight wooden windows which were continually leaking have been replaced with double-glazed aluminium windows.
Cedar Flat Hut inland from Hokitika has been extended from six bunks to twelve bunks during March.