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Scottys Biv

Scottys Biv

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

Maintenance Status

Scottys Biv was Permolat's first maintain-by-community project with DOC in 2006, and the forerunner of a number of others in central Westland. Scottys was originally designated for removal following DOC's 2004 High-Country Review, due to its low level of use. Emma Richardson is currently the contact person for issues and maintenance. Those using the Biv are encouraged to help out by providing us with updates on its condition, and carrying out any minor repairs where needed. Access to Scottys is exclusively via the tops, and an old NZFS track onto Scottys Range opposite Seven Mile Creek has been kept open and usable by Permolat volunteers.

Location

Taipo catchment. Map BV20. Grid Ref: E1470151/ N5259403. Altitude 1050m. Scottys Biv is located on a tussock bench in the headwaters of Scottys Creek. Scattered alpine scrub surrounds the biv and there are a couple of reasonable-sized tarns providing water. There are great views of the Taipo valley and the impressive northern buttresses of Tara Tama from the Biv. Scottys is a moderate-hard overnighter, and a port of call on longer tops trips. The Tara Tama Range provide relatively easy tops travel in all directions. Prior to its adoption Scottys was being visited once every 3-5 years. 10 visits were recorded in 2005 following its initial profiling on the site, but since have dropped back to around 2-3 per year.

Access

The most direct route to Scottys Biv is up and along the Tara Tama Range with tops access provided by an old NZFS track opposite Seven Mile Hut. The track has been kept open by members of the Permolat group and was given a cursory trim and some re-marking in 2013. I started a more comprehensive tidy-up in May 2015 and finished this in December.

The access road up the TR of the Taipo from SH73 was washed out on the first river flat in 2013 and DOC cut a track around the bush faces above the river to get around this. It's no longer necessary to use the track at normal river flows, and the new land owner has done a bit of work on the road which can be driven by high-axle 4WD as far as the Seven Mile Hut. Seven Mile Hut, ex NZFS, became the property of the new owner, as it's on his land, and is now padlocked. The tops track starts on the TL of the Taipo at the mouth of a side-creek that enters the River below the shingle bluffs immediately opposite Seven Mile Creek. A ford of the River is required to get to the track start, and at the moment the best option at low flows only, is a downstream diagonal from the middle of Seven Mile Creek shingle fan. A cairn and and permolat at the mouth of the creek indicate the start. Follow the creek up for 100m then exit on the TR. The track climbs steeply up onto the River terrace and follows the TR the creek at a fairly gentle gradient to the start of a broad spur. The track climbs steeply up the spur initially, which becomes better-defined around the 850m mark. Regenerating scrub is starting to crowd the track further up, but it is well-marked and easy to follow. A disintegrating water drum at 950m provides the last bit of water for a considerable distance. A couple of small tarns along the crest of the Range are easy to miss, and the next nearest is just before Scottys Saddle. From the top of the track the route continues through scattered scrub onto the point 1371m. There are two distinct peaks to traverse after this with travel relatively easy along the main ridge. The Biv comes into view at point 1399m, however a direct line is not possible due to some obscured bluffs and scrub gullies. Continue 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 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.

The other commonly used route to Scottys is from Griffin Creek Hut. Head downriver from the Hut for 15 minutes to the side creek that drains Scottys Saddle. The Rocky Creek track goes up the TL of this creek for a few hundred metres. Follow this to where it crosses, then leave it and continue up the creek. The going is straightforward initially, but gets progressively rougher as you get higher up. The creek's upper reaches has a series of cataracts that must be scrambled around. This require a degree of strength and agility if soloing, and it's easier if there are two or more. A waterfall in the alpine scrub zone that has a short section of track around its TR, and the creek opens out after this and the water peters out. Climb out of the creek around the 1320m contour and head up a scree towards a large boulder with a cairn on top on an unnamed saddle(E1469280/ N5259365), 200m South of Scottys Saddle. The approaches to Scottys Saddle from a side-branch of the access creek are very steep. Scottys Biv is a pleasant 20 minute drop in an ESE direction 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 Alan Farmer from Rotorua. The materials were dropped from a Dominie aircraft with wing racks. Alan has written about the Biv 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 furbushed with a cooking bench and two shortish sleeping platforms. Two foam mattresses with covering sheets were dropped in with the paint gear in 2013. The biv has wire tiedowns and water is from two reasonable sized tarns, or a 44 gallon drum next to the Biv. There is no toilet.

Condition

Scottys received zero maintenance from the early 1970's to 2004, and moisture got in under the door and rotted out the adjacent section of floor. In 2004 DOC repainted the Biv, patched the hole, added a new metal flashing to the bottom of the door, repaired the window, and replaced the rotting studs, joists and bearers. The Biv was repainted by Permolat volunteers in 2013 and the roof redone with bright red paint to make it easier to locate from above. In September 2013 I resealed the roof and replaced some of the roof nails with screws. In 2015 I repainted the roof, renailed the roof purlins, and replaced more of the flathead nails on the cladding with screws. The Biv was still cosy and dry in early 2016, but a small roof leak was spotted in June this year and a basin placed under it.

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 the Saddle that goes over to the Griffin. It rises steeply up the faces of the Tara Tama Range and there are a number of small cataracts to negotiate, all fairly easy. The Creek forks and the TL branch 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 on the crest of the Range. Head 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. It might be a bit tricky dropping down this route as the good lines are harder to spot from above. It is an easy 20 minute drop in a SE direction from the crest of the Range down 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 a bit rougher a bit further down. The odd short detours may be required through the alpine scrub on the Creek edge, however these are not problematic. The last section before the Hut is quite steep and bouldery and a sidle is necessary through the montane forest on the TR. The bush 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 E1471066/ N5256463 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, 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 more direct and logical route along the crest of the Range from Mt. Olson is compromised by a number of exposed, vertical sections of ridge. 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 11oom contour. A small side-creek is crossed at E1465798/ N5258420 and the next side-creek is followed down through 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 scub 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), 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 you'd need to be spot on in order not to overshoot and 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 and ascend this to the bench where the Biv is located. A long day and good conditions would be required for a fit, experienced party for both of the above routes.

A portion of Razorback Ridge is not traversable without climbing gear, however it is possible however 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). 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.

Scottys Creek looks reasonably benign from the Biv, but is not recommended as a route down to the Taipo valley. The only report on hand is from 30 years ago and describes it as an "horrendous 14-hour scrub-bash."

Repairs needed

Roof leak needs checking and attending to.

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 teatowels, 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 warratahs.