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Scottys Biv

Scottys Biv

(Scottys Biv looking out down the Taipo: Photo Andrew Buglass 2013)

Maintenance Status

Scottys Biv was originally designated for removal following DOC's 2004 High-Country Review due to its low level of use. Interestingly, DOC did some maintenance on it around the same time despite this. The Permolat Group got involved at this point and in 2006 I signed the first maintain-by-community contract with the Department. This was the forerunner of a number of other similar contracts. The contract expired in 2016 and the Biv is was added to Permolat's general maintain-by-community agreement with DOC. Scottys Biv remains very low-use and visitors are encouraged to help out by providing us with updates on its condition, and carrying out any minor repairs where needed. Scottys Creek is impassable and so access to the Biv is exclusively via the tops. An old NZFS track up onto Scottys Range opposite Seven Mile Creek has been kept open by volunteers and is still in reasonable condition.

Location

Taipo catchment. Map BV20. Grid Ref: E1470151/ N5259403 (BV20 702 594). Altitude 1050m. Scottys Biv is located amid scattered alpine scrub on a bench in the headwaters of Scottys Creek. A couple of reasonable-sized tarns provide water and there are great views out over the Taipo valley and of the impressive northern buttresses of Tara Tama. Scottys is a moderate-hard overnighter and port of call on longer trips along the Tara Tama Range which provides relatively easy travel in both directions. Prior to its adoption Scottys was being visited once every 3-5 years. A record 10 visits were recorded in 2005 following its initial profiling on the site. Since then it's been 4-5 parties per year with bumper years in 2016 and 2017 (eight parties each).

Access

The most direct route to Scottys Biv is via an old NZFS tops track that starts opposite the old Seven Mile Hut in the Taipo valley. This was last given a tidy-up in 2015 and is still reasonably good aside from a bit of windthrow in the mid-section. The access road up the TR of the Taipo from SH73 has been steadily deteriorating over the years and was washed out on the first river flat in 2018. The usable bit up and around the back of Point 338m is marginal at best for 2WD, so most are choosing to park at the DOC carpark next to the highway and walk this as well. High stud 4WD vehicles may still be able to get to the old FS Hut at the Seven Mile, but for most it's a seven kilometre walk from the highway. The old Hut is now the property of the landowner and is padlocked. The track entrance is roughly opposite the Hut on the TL of the Taipo. The ford here is changeable and usually not crossable if the River is up. Currently the best crossing is just downstream from a big cairned boulder, is mid-thigh depth, and with a good base.

The track commences at the mouth of a small side-creek that enters the River just below some shingle bluffs and is marked with a cairn and and permolat. Follow the creek up for 100m to where a track exits on the TR and climbs steeply up onto a bush terrace. This is followed at a fairly gentle gradient above the TR of the creek to a broad spur which is steep initially and becomes better-defined around the 850m mark. A disintegrating water drum at 950m provides the last bit of water for a considerable distance. There are a couple of small and easy to miss tarns along the crest of the Range and one just before Scottys Saddle. From the top of the track the route continues through scattered scrub onto point 1371m and along the crest of the range over a second point 1371m to point 1399m. The Biv comes into view here and what looks like a direct line to it isn't due to some obscured bluffs and scrub gullies in between. Continue instead along the Range until 200m past the low point between points 1399m and 1406m. There is a cairn here and from this point it is possible to descent diagonally towards the Biv. The compass bearing if misty is roughly 160 degrees. A fit, experienced party should be able to reach the Biv in 6-7 hours from the Seven Mile. Good visibility or GPS is essential for this route.

Another commonly used route to Scottys is or was from the Griffin Creek catchment. The Biv can still be accessed up the second side-creek downstream from Griffin Creek Hut, however changes in the streambed have made it impossible to go directly up a set of waterfalls at around the 1000m contour. A fairly high and difficult scrub detour on a side ridge on the TR will get you around these but tends to take the fun out of things. The Rocky Creek track can be followed up the side-creek to where it crosses to the TR, and the creek followed from this point. Travel is straightforward initially, but gets progressively steeper and rougher further up. A second smaller waterfall above the aforementioned ones can be skirted through the alpine scrub on its TR. After this the creek opens up a bit and eventually peters out. Climb out of the creek around the 1320m contour and head up a scree towards the obvious low point in the range (E1469280/ N5259365 (BV20 693 594)). A large boulder with a cairn on top marks this unnamed saddle which lies 200m South of Scottys Saddle. Scottys Biv is accessed by dropping ESE from Scottys Saddle down a series of tussock benches. Allow four hours from Griffin Creek Hut to Scottys Biv, or a long day (8-10 hours) from the Griffin roadend at Harrington Creek on SH73.

Type

Scottys was built in 1958 by the late Alan Farmer from Rotorua. The materials were dropped from a Dominie aircraft with wing racks and Alan wrote about this in his book, "The Best Job Ever." Scottys has flat-iron walls and roof and a single perspex window at the far end. Its interior is furbished with a cooking bench and two sleeping platforms which were most likely retrofitted in the early 1970's. Two foam mattresses with covering sheets were dropped in with the paint gear in 2013 however DOC removed them at some point because they weren't approved fireproof ones (thousands of trampers incinerated in small shelters prior to this !!!). Jane Morris contributed to the 'illegal soft furnishings matter' by leaving her sleeping mat there in 2020 and Jim Masson his in 21. Comfort restored. The biv has wire tiedowns and water is from the tarns or a 44 gallon drum next to the Biv. There is no toilet.

Condition

Scottys Biv received zero maintenance during the 30 odd years from when the sleeping platforms would have been added, up until 2004. Moisture got in under the door and rotted out the first bit of floor and there was a gaping hole there when I revisited (also the first time in 30 odd years) in 2003. In 2004 DOC repaired the hole, added a new metal flashing to the bottom of the door, repaired the window, replaced the rotting studs, joists and bearers, and repainted the Biv. In 2013 volunteers was repainted and sealed and replaced some of the roof nails with tech screws. In 2015 I repainted the roof, renailed the roof purlins, and replaced more of the flathead nails on the cladding with tech screws. The Biv was still cosy and dry at last report (February 2021).

Routes

Scottys Biv can be accessed from Rocky Creek Biv using a route in the head of Rocky Creek. Rocky Creek veers SE a short distance upstream from where the track over to the Griffin starts. The Creek climbs steeply with a number of small cataracts that are fairly easy to negotiate. The TL branch is taken where the Creek forks and this peters out on a steep scree. Climb to the top of the scree and continue up a flat ridge through a narrow band of alpine scrub towards the crest of the range. An old rockfield is crossed below a line of bluffs. continue SW here across a narrow ridge, before making the last ascent up onto the crest. The top section is exposed in a couple of places, but there is plenty of tussock to hold onto. This last bit could be tricky in reverse as the line down is harder to spot from above. Once on the crest of the range it is 20 minutes down the tussock faces a SE direction to the Biv. Allow 3-4 hours to get from Rocky Creek Biv to Scottys Biv.

Newton Creek Hut in the Arahura can be accessed via Newton Creek basin and the col between points 1516m and 1751m. Travel is easy in the upper reaches of the Creek, but it gets rougher a bit further down the odd short scrub detour may be required The last section before the Hut is quite bouldery and it is necessary to sidle above the Creek on the TR for this. Fortunately the forest here is not too bad to get through. Allow 4-5 hours for the crossing from Scottys to Newton Creek Hut.

Dunns Hut can be accessed either via Dunns Saddle and the Tara Tama Range, or directly over the Top of Tara Tama. The Dunns Saddle route involves a sidle across a steep scree from the NW shoulder of the low peak of Tara Tama. Sidle back across to the main ridge aiming for the small knob just north of Dunns Saddle. This avoids a steep section of ridge between Tara Tama and Dunns Saddle. Travel down Dunns Creek from the Saddle is straightforward, although there is some avalanche risk from the Tara Tama side after heavy snowfalls.

The Tara Tama traverse can be done either by climbing up to Scottys Saddle and following the crest of the Tara Tama Range, or by dropping directly into Scottys Creek from the Biv and climbing up onto the summit ridge from there. The open side-creek directly opposite the Biv visible in the larger hut photo provides the best access. A short scrub-bash is required to get down into Scottys Creek and a waterfall at the lower end of the access creek can be skirted on the TL through patchy scrub and large boulders. Take the TR fork of the creek at the 1100m contour and continue up to around 1400m, then exit on the TL and climb the scree or snow slopes onto the ridge between Tara Tama and point 1751m. Drop from the Tara Tama's summit down its broad SE spur to around E1471242/ N5257261 (BV20 712 572) where a cairn marks drop-off into Dunns basin. A steep tussock face provides access into an open gut that enters Dunns Creek 20 minutes upstream of the Hut. The gut is easy travel when snow free, but in the colder months is an active avalanche chute and should be avoided after heavy snowfalls.

Top Olderog Biv can be accessed from Scottys via the upper Wainihinihi River basin or the head of Olderog Creek. The most logical looking route along the crest of the Range from Mt. Olson is compromised by some exposed, vertical sections of ridge and should be avoided. Access into the Wainihinihi basin is from point 1572m down the broad spur on the TL of the upper Wainihinihi. A canyon in the upper Creek can be skirted by sidling across the tussock terraces on the TL of the valley at around the 1100m contour. A small side-creek is crossed at E1465798/ N5258420 (BV19 658 584) and the next side-creek is followed down a series of smooth rock chutes through a band of alpine scrub into the main Creek. The Wainihinihi opens out onto a wide river flat a bit further down with plenty of good campsites. Access back onto the Olderog Range is up the first side-creek downriver from Magnesite Creek. Climb up through scattered alpine scrub on the side-creek's TL, then up a steep open face onto the crest, just East of point 1430m. The drop-off point to the Biv is short distance back towards Mt. Olson (around E1464410/ N5257820 (BV19 644 578)), and is marked with a cairn. The Biv is sited around a 100 vertical metres below the crest of the Range on the Olderog side and is visible from the top in fine weather. In poor visibility a bearing of 168 degrees will take you from the cairn down to the bench where the Biv is located, however take care not to overshoot or you'll end up down in Olderog Creek.

The second option for accessing Top Olderog is to drop from the col between point 1566m and Mt. Olson down a steep gut into the head of Olderog Creek. travel down the Creek to the small side-creek that comes in on the TR at E1464688/ N5257080 (BV19 647 571) and ascend this to the bench where the Biv is located. Allow 5-7 hours in good conditions for both of the above routes.

Razorback Ridge lives up to its name and is not traversable without climbing gear, however it is possible to sidle under the troublesome section on the Wainihinihi side. This requires dropping from point 1572m into the head of Wainihinihi Creek, then sidling out on the TR along the 1060m contour to the forks of the unnamed side-creek further along (at E1465628/ N5258785 (BV19 656 588)). Head up the dividing ridge between this side-creek and the next one downriver, onto the Mt. Griffin tops. From here it's an easy couple of hours in good conditions down to the start of the Wilson Knob track. The track down through the alpine scrub to the Griffin Creek turn-off starts a couple of hundred metres NE of point 1126m at GPS Ref: E1467135/ N5261729. The track was recut by Permolat volunteers in January 2021.

Although Scottys Creek looks reasonably benign from the Biv it is not apparently, recommended as a route down to the Taipo valley. The only account I've been provided is from 35 years ago and describes it as an horrendous 14-hour scrub-bash.

Repairs needed

None according to the last check. If anyone wants to fly a couple of small mattresses in, you are most welcome.

Provisions on site

A small billy, a frypan, a hammer, a tenon saw, an aluminium bucket and wash basin, some spare AAA batteries, a few 50mm flathead nails, two tea towels, a pair of jandals, a pair of sandals, a hand brush and scrubbing brush, a phillips screwdriver, some duct tape, and two bits of foam mattress with covering sheets for the bunks. The crate of paint gear contains a scraper, a wire brush, a large and small paint brush, 250ml Wattyl Rust Eater, 250ml Wattyl Rust Metal primer, denzo tape, 1.5 litres of New Denim Blue acrylic, and some plastic containers for washing up. Underneath the Biv there is a stack of timber comprising lengths of 4x2, 6x1, 2x2, some bits of the old 4x4 bearer, a couple of 3m lengths of tongue and groove, the old door, and three waratahs.