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Thomas River Hut

Thomas River Hut

(Thomas River Hut: Photo Geoff Spearpoint 2015)

Maintenance Status

Thomas River Hut is one of the most recent Permolat individual maintain-by-community initiatives. Geoff Spearpoint as contract signatory obtained some Consortium funding to carry out repairs and trackwork. He and friends completed this maintenance in November 2016. The Hut had missed out on having any significant maintenance for a couple of decades. Foot access is is a mix of river travel, and up until recently, a very overgrown track up the TL of the valley. Most visits currently are fly-ins, otherwise a crossing of the Haast River by raft or jet boat is required to access the valley and Hut.


Haast Catchment, Thomas River. NZTopo50 Map: BY12 Grid/NZTM2000 coordinates: E1294389, N5132955. Altitude 160m. The hut is sited on a grassy bank above the river. Upvalley there are long still pools and gravel flats, while down valley the river plunges through rocky boulders surrounded by mature beech and kamahi forest. The hut gets used by fishers and hunters mainly, but some trampers call through too.


Jet boat, kayak or raft across the Haast and follow the true left riverbank or forested flats from Law Flat to about opposite Trig Creek. Above here there is track leading on up to the Hut. This was cut and matked with white and red permolat by Geoff and his crew in October/ November 2016. Allow 4-5 hours to the hut from the Haast River. The river downstream of the Hut is not easily crossable for some distance. An old track goes up the TL of the river above the Hut for an hour or so. This was recut and marked up to the first good gravel crossing by Geoff and co., in October/ November 2016.


Thomas River Hut is a standard NZFS 6-bunk SF70 design with open fire, built about 1972.


Thomas River was still in reasonable condition when Geoff inspected it in 2015. In May of this year he, Hugh van Noorden and Liz Stephenson flew in for a week and built a new woodshed, replaced the rotten toilet seat, put cowling on the chimney, a chimney cap fitted, and cut back vegetation around the Hut, landing pad, and along the tracks a little. They replaced the door latch, hinges, replaced the door sill, replaced a sheet of flatiron on the door wall, cleaned up the windowsills, and removed and replaced some buckled and delaminated ply on an internal wall. The mattresses were cleaned. DOC flew in a replaced the mattress covers some time during the winter. The last bit of the project took place in November, with Geoff, Liz, Hugh, Tracy-Lee Burkhart, and Peter Fullerton in the work crew. The ridge and skylight were replaced and the inside of the skylight and underlined with PVU sheeting. The old ridging was replaced with a new wider ridging that covers (kea proofs) the lead flashing. The end window was removed and re-flashed, and a new chimney flashing installed. The toilet was made more weatherproof, the Hut painted, and the tracks above and below the Hut recut. The mossies up here can be bad so it is recommended that sprays, repellent and nets are included. In the floods of March 2019 the River cut a sizeable chunk of the bank next to the Hut. The washout. is will necessitate the removal of the Hut to a safer site in the medium term.


Thomas River Hut can also be accessed from the Roaring Billy Hut over the Thomas Range, or else by dropping off the Mateketeke Range into the Thomas above the Hut.

Repairs still needed

The Hut will need moving due to the washout. This will be a major operation and will probably involve removing the chimney and hearth and installing a woodburner. Some finishing touches to the painting, another coat or two on the door and windows, and a bit of touch-up on the roof. The fly screen needs some lugs to make it easy to remove for cleaning. The food bench could be replaced with a stainless steel one, but it isn’t a priority. The current toilet hole is filling and at some point a new one needs to be dug in a dry place not too far from the current site, and the toilet moved. Geoff would like to add a wet weather detour track around a swampy area upstream of the Hut. The Forest Service used to have a track around this. He'd also like to extend the downvalley track to the top of the island in the river a little below Pile Creek.

Provisions on Site

There is an axe, 2 brooms, a metal water bucket, plastic bucket, frypan and a couple of billies.