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Healey Creek Hut

Healey Creek Hut

(Healey Creek Hut: Photo Andrew Buglass 2018)

Maintenance status

Healey Creek Hut is designated as minimal maintenance. The track to it is no longer officially maintained and although various people have given it attention over the years, it is now very much in need of cutting and a bit of marking. The Hut was extremely well built back in 1968, and while sound structurally, had started to move sideways on its piles. The roof was beginning to rust out also. Tom Hayes, a Christchurch Permolat member, put his hand up for the project, secured some Back Country Trust funding, and flew a team in in April to repile and re-roof the Hut, and install a water tank. Wet weather prevented completion of the piling and external painting, which will be done in the coming summer. We've started re-doing the track from the top end and have left a weedeater up there to finish off work on the formidable toi toi in the sub-alpine zone. This and re-marking the track further down will be one of my winter projects.

Location

Mikonui catchment. Map BV18. Grid Ref: E1429870/ N5231505. Altitude 1170m. Healey Hut is located on a tussock bench high above the TL of Healey Creek with fabulous views out over the frontal ranges to the Tasman Sea. It can be reached in a day from the Mikonui roadend and is an access point for Galena Ridge and some great alpine crossings to the Whitcombe, Tuke and Waitaha catchments. There is a healthy fernbird population around the Hut. They are shy but curious little things, and will eventually come and check you out if you sit still for long enough.

Access

The access to Healey Creek Hut is up a long spur from the river flats, 20 minutes upstream from Mikonui Flat Hut. Access from SH6 to Mikonui Flat is along a long gravel road up the Totara River valley and over a low bush saddle. The road is starting to get quite rutted and scoured in places, and may soon be marginal for 2WD. It's a 3km stroll over paddocks and river flats from the roadend to Mikonui Flat Hut, which has six bunks and a woodburner. The Mikonui needs to be forded to get over to Mikonui Flat Hut, but is not problematic at normal flows. From Mikonui Flat Hut it's a 20 minute walk up the river flats on the TL to the start of the Healey Creek track, which starts on the bush edge about 100m upriver from a conspicuous shingle fan. It goes up a steep rib onto a terrace between two small side-creeks. From here there is a steep climb up onto Healey Spur. The Spur flattens somewhat in the montane/ sub-alpine zone and this section is overgrowing quite thickly in places with toi toi and shrubs. Several ups and downs follow to where the track eventually emerges in the tussock on a flat section of ridge around E1429500/ N5231925. Snow poles lead down the tussock faces in a SE direction to the bench where the Hut is located.

Aside from the overgrowing sub-alpine section, there is a little bit windthrow at the bottom end of the track that needs clearing. More markers are needed on the bush section which has been cruise-taped for the interim. The track recut and marked from the tussock down to the 1020m contour in May. I hope to go back and do some more work on it this winter. A moderately fit party should be able to reach it Healey Hut from the roadend in 5-6 hours currently.

Type

Healey Creek Hut is a standard NZFS, 4-bunk S81 design (no. 306) built in April 1968. It was lined internally in the early 80's. A roof fed watertank was installed in April 2018. There is cellphone reception from the Hut, although the signal is not a strong one.

Condition

Healy Creek Hut is in very good condition. It was painted, resealed, and provided with new fireproof mattresses by DOC during the summer of 2003/4. In April 2018 Tom's maintenance party (Tom, John Milne, Geoff Spearpoint, Jane Morris, Reece Bowen and myself) re-roofed the Hut and installed the watertank. Two of the piles were replaced and drains dug around the Hut. The window frames were scraped and primed, and a door handle added to supplement the bolt. The Hut tie-downs are slack, but won't be tightened until the re-piling is finished. What looks to be a wet patch of floor in the cupboard and under the bunk on the SW side of the Hut is probably an old oil or petrol spill. The floorboards are actually quite dry and sound. Snow poles were set out from the Hut, up onto the Spur to the top end of the track.

Routes

To access Galena Ridge it is necessary to climb back up onto Healey Spur from the Hut. What looks to be a more direct and straightforward sidle up the tussock faces on the Healey Creek side of the Spur is blocked by a deep slot just East of the Hut and another further up. Instead, head straight up through the tussock and scattered scrub from the door of the Hut to the top of the Spur, and follow it along. Near the top of the Spur, just past point 1643m, there is a narrow exposed section that needs to be traversed with care. The other option is to drop off the Spur at the saddle SE of point 1643m and sidle under the razorback, regaining the Spur at the start of the last steep pitch up onto Galena Ridge.

A direct traverse East along the crest of the range to Mt. Bowen and Mikonui Spur Biv is blocked by a vertical section just East of Remarkable Peak. One as yet untried route would involve dropping down the ridge running SE from the flat area East of point 1673m, then sidling in and out of the upper branches of Warning Creek before climbing back up onto the crest of the Range. The heads of the side-creeks are steep and actively eroding in many places. Once back on the main range the travel is good to the 1700m contour NE of point 1625m The least difficult route from here is via a steep couloir that leads up to the col between Mt. Bowen and Sentinel Peak. The gut is accessed by way of a short exposed sidle over a sloping gravel (or snow depending on the season) bench from the main ridge. Head up the gut which has snow all year round and is steep at the top, or cross the gut and climb out onto the rocky rib on its TL. Scramble up this towards Sentinel Peak. Allow a full day for the crossing from Healey Hut to Mikonui Spur Biv. The steeper sections on the Bowen approach will be icy at times during winter and spring, requiring ice axes, crampons, and possibly a rope.

Galena Ridge is reasonably a straightforward traverse for most of its length, and Top Tuke, Hut can be accessed down the ridge running SW off point 1974m. The ridge bounds the TR of the hanging basin of a large unnamed side-creek. The route from the lip of the basin down to Top Tuke Hut starts at the end of a flat tussock bench on the TR of the waterfall, (around E1428665/ N5227080). A small notch in the bluffs provides access down onto a spur on the TR of the waterfall. Drop off the spur further down into the creek on its TR and exit it on the TR where it starts to flatten. Continue in a straight line down through patchy scrub to the Hut. The Hut is visible from the lip of the basin in fine conditions.

Further along Galena Ridge between point 1974m and point 2001m there is one exposed notch that requires a downclimbing. This should be able to be done without a rope. The views from

Travel further along Galena Ridge to Mt. Beaumont is OK except for one short downclimb which is very exposed. A rope may be an option for this. The views from Mt. Beaumont are superb and it is a easy traverse from here around to the junction with Sawtooth Ridge. Ivory Lake Hut is accessed over point 2084m. There is a short down-climb of around 5m through crumbly rock just before its summit that could be problematic for some without a rope. A couple of sections on the lee sides of points 2084m and 1870m may require crampons during the colder months, however in late summer and autumn the few remaining patches of permanent snow can usually be skirted without the use of snow gear. Acces to the Hut is down the spur on the TR of the Lake.

Top Waitaha can be accessed by heading West from point 1870m along a flat bench, then dropping down the SE-running spur to the confluence of Watson and Stag Creeks. It is an easy amble down Stag Creek to the Waitaha River, and from here to the Hut.

It is an easy amble down Steadman Brow from Mt. Beaumont to Cropp Knob, where a maintained track leads down to Price Flat in the Whitcombe. The top entrance is on a side-spur that connects with Cropp Brow on a flat area just NE of Cropp Knob. The track was last cut in 2013 and it takes around two hours to get from the scrubline down to the Price Flat swingbridge.

A track from Healey Hut down into Healey Creek marked on the older maps hasn't been maintained for well over 40 years. The odd bit of permolat can still be found at the NW end of the bench on which the Hut is sited, but peters out 100m further down. The dense alpine scrub and bluffs below are not encouraging and access into the head of Healy Creek would probably be easier down the side-creek just upriver from the Hut. This appears to be partially blown out further down and may provide access all the way into the Creek.

Repairs needed:

The re-piling needs to be finished and the exterior walls and window frames repainted. The louvre handle on East-facing window needs replacing. A loo would be useful as well. The track up to the hut needs recutting and marking from 1120m down.

Provisions on Site

A Shovel, a broom, an aluminium basin, a hearth brush and shovel, two bench seats, two spare louvre panes, three small frypans, and a plastic bucket. Tom has left a heap of tools, utensils and provisions in the Hut for finishing the work. Please don’t eat the food. There is paint, piles and timber on site and cement stored under the bunk.