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Kiwi Flat Hut

Kiwi Flat Hut

(Kiwi Flat Hut: Photo Andrew Buglass 2015)

Maintenance Status

Kiwi Flat Hut and its access track from the roadend up the TR of the valley are still fully maintained by DOC.


Waitaha catchment. Grid Ref: E1416718/ N5221664 (BW17 167 217). Map BW17. 265m altitude. Kiwi Flat Hut is located on a low terrace on the TR of Whirling Water, 400m upstream from its confluence with the Waitaha River and adjacent to the large river flat from which it derives its name. The bush surrounds are podocarp, rata, hardwood and the Hut is a pleasant and relatively easy overnighter, or first stop for those heading further up the Waitaha valley. The swingbridge at the bottom end of the Flat provides views into the top entrance of the spectacular Morgan Gorge which kayakers view as one of the most challenging runs in the country.


Up until 2012 access to Kiwi Flat was up the South bank of the Waitaha River, but this was abandoned by DOC due to a longstanding access dispute through a P.D. Farms property at the roadend. In May 2012 DOC contractors constructed a new route up the North bank of the River, a fair portion of which is river travel and straightforward. A new tracked portion around the TR of the Morgan Gorge is well marked, but the terrain is uneven and very boggy in many places. It would have made more sense to put a 3-wire across the bottom of the Morgan Gorge to access the South bank and make use the original track from there. At last report there was a fair bit windthrow from cyclone Fehi covering parts of the new trail. There is also an issue with the section from the roadend carpark to MacGregor Creek. A narrow strip of unoccupied Crown Land between the farm fence and the River is followed initially, followed by a piece of covenanted land around point 202m. The River has cut in against the bluffs here and it's necessary to climb the steep bank onto the terrace with a dense kie kie/ supplejack understory to skirt the bluff. A rough cruise-taped line has been cut through this section. If the the River is very low it may be possible to do a couple of fords to avoid this bit entirely. Once past point 202m the route reconnects with the farm road which it follows to McGregor Creek. It seems a shame that this whole section has to be walked when it could be driven in five minutes, but this is part of the access deal with the farmer.

After MacGregor Creek it is easy river travel for around an hour, with one short tracked section around a low rock bluff. The main section of track enters the bush below the Morgan Gorge and climbs in a series of steep steps around it. The terrain is rough underfoot with rocks, tree roots and extensive boggy sections. The trail drops down to a swingbridge at the top end of the Gorge and crosses back to the TL. Travel from here is straight up the river flat to Whirling Water which is generally easy to ford at normal flows. A large orange triangle 200m up Whirling Water on the TR marks the start of a short section of track to the Hut. Whirling Water may not be crossable after heavy rain. Allow 3-4 hours currently from the roadend to Kiwi Flat.

It is still possible to use the South bank route with P.D. Farm's permission to cross through the paddocks at the roadend a prerequisite. The track will be getting overgrown by now although Rory McDougall did some minimal trimming on it earlier this year. The track starts on the bush edge at the toe of the hill and follows an old farm track through to Douglas Creek. The bush has collapsed over the first bit of the track and it is a bit difficult to find the start. Douglas Creek is uncrossable after heavy rain. It is river travel from here up to Glamour Glen. A track enters the bush on the TR of the Glen about 20m above its confluence with the Waitaha and climb/ sidles around the Morgan Gorge. An open slip is crossed and is used to access a hot spring down in the gorge (approx. E1415560/ N5222293 (BW17 156 223)). Recent reports indicate that the spring may no longer be useable due to river changes. The last bit of the climb down is exposed slippery rock, and I'd suggest taking a length of rope for this. The track continues sidling around the Gorge, eventually dropping back down to the River at the bottom end of Kiwi Flat. Allow 2-3 hours from the farm boundary to the Hut for this route.


Kiwi Flat Hut is a standard NZFS SF70 six-bunk design with open fire built in the 1960's. It was lined in the early 1980's and had one of the cupboards at the entrance removed to create more space. A water tank and woodshed were installed shortly after the DOC transition in 1987.


Kiwi Flat Hut should be in excellent condition currently. It had some major maintenance done by Doc in September 2019, was re-piled, had the lead removed from the roof, and new fly screens, fire surround and ceiling sheet installed. The hut was painted, the toilet door and latches fixed, the water tank cleaned and the helipad cleared. The chimney is an original and was patched in a few places a few years back.

Upper Valley Tracks and Other Routes

DOC abandoned the tracks in the upper Waitaha in the early 1990's. The Permolat Group took on a maintenance role in 2007 and have made several subsequent track cutting forays into the valley, the last in April 2017. The track up to Moonbeam Hut from Kiwi Flat starts at the Kiwi Flat Hut door and climbs steeply up onto a bush terrace that separates the Waitaha from Whirling Water. There are a few patches of large windthrow on the terrace section that needs skirting. After the Headlong Spur turnoff the track drops off the terrace and sidles across the bush faces above the Waitaha Gorge. After about 20 minutes the track veers sharply uphill and climbs to 510 metres to get around two large active slips, before dropping back to the original trackline and continuing upvalley. There are a number of ups and downs before it starts descending to the River just upstream of Mark Creek.

From here it is around an hour's boulderhopping, with a couple of small bush detours to Moonbeam Hut. Moonbeam Torrent, a short distance downriver from the Hut, is large and swift and usually impassable after heavy rain. The track up to the Hut starts on the riverbed 10 minutes upstream from the Torrent, and climbs steeply 60 vertical metres onto the terrace where the Hut is located. Allow 4-5 hours to get from Kiwi Flat to Moonbeam Hut.

The track to Scamper Torrent Hut starts 75m up the TR of Labyrinth Creek at the bottom of Kiwi Flat. The track hasn't received any official maintenance for some years and is reliant now on volunteer input to keep it open. It is currently in pretty good order although the bottom section is getting a bit rough, and needs re-marking. The open sections leading over and down into Scamper torrent basin have been cruise-taped.

The track climbs steeply out of Labyrinth Creek initially, then flattens and ascends a sloping bush terrace towards the toe of the hill. It connects with a narrow steep spur and follows this to the tussock line. The spur connects with the broad ridge bounding the TL of Scamper Torrent basin at point 1125m. There's a pole just above a tarn and another quite a distance further down. Below this a cut trail leads down through a band of alpine to the floor of the basin. It is a 10 minute walk from here upriver to the Hut, which is located on the terrace on the TL of the Torrent. Allow 2.5-3 hours for the journey from Kiwi Flat Hut to Scamper Torrent Hut.

The track up Headlong Spur starts 1/2 an hour up the main valley track from Kiwi Flat and provides access to the Smyth Range. The track was recut and marked to around 1160m by myself and John Roper-Lindsay in June and October of 2016. The section through the alpine scrub to 1160m is roughly cut and could do with a bit more trimming. There is low scrub above this to around 1400m, and a couple of small patches in this band would benefit from having a trail cut through them.

The Headlong Spur route forms part of a three-day alpine circuit encompassing Kiwi Flat, the Smyth Range, and Scamper Torrent. There is one steep section on the Smyth Range bordering the Kea Glacier which is generally snow-free from late summer, but would require ice axes at other times if conditions were icy. Most of the Range is relatively easy travel however, and there are plenty of good campsites. Scamper Torrent is accessed by dropping in a WNW direction down some sloping benches under Mt. Durward into the small basin on the lee side point 1397m. Follow the small stream from the basin to where it drops over a waterfall and continue sidling West across the tussock faces onto the broad spur bounding the TR of the main branch of Scamper Torrent. This spur has a small creek bisecting it. The high ground on either side of the creek can be followed through patchy scrub down into the main basin. The Hut is visible most of the way down from Durward in fine conditions.

County Stream Hut can be accessed by means of a high traverse of Mts. Neville and Barry. There is a bit of permanent snow on these two peaks, and it is advisable to carry an iceaxe at most times of the year. There is a steep, exposed section of Clearview Spur between points 1945m and 1690m that requires downclimbing. The route from Clearview Spur into County Stream is down the faces on the TL of Canary Creek. Drop into Canary Creek for the last couple of hundred metres to avoid a band of alpine scrub just above the valley floor. A fit party may be able to get from Kiwi to County in a day over the tops, but it makes more sense to camp out and break the journey in two.

Smyth Hut in the Wanganui can be accessed by dropping off the Smyth Range at point 1830m. The upper Smyth River is good travel down to just below the Bradshaw Creek confluence. From here the going gets bouldery and rough. While this route could theoretically be done in a long day from Kiwi Hut by a fit party, it would be more sensible to allow two. The swingbridge across the Wanganui just above the Smyth confluence was washed away in a flash flood in 2013.


Not sure if any sealing and patching work is still needed externally on the chimney. The louvre handle on the end window may still need replacing. The windthrow on the section of terrace as far as the Headlong Spur turnoff needs chainsawing. The Headlong Spur track between 900m and 1000m could benefit from a bit more cutting, From 550m down to the track end itโ€™s well cruise-taped, but could do with more permolatting. There's enough permolat and nails under a stump at the junction to do this.

Provisions on Site

One camp oven minus lid, two billies, a pot, a broom, two aluminium buckets, a plastic wash basin, two axes, a slasher, a hammer, a reasonable amount of flat-head nails and staples, a small quantity of permolat, two pruning saws. Under the hut there are three lengths of plastic downpipe, a length of spouting, and a roll of No. 8 wire.