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Thomas River Hut

Thomas River Hut

(Thomas River Hut: Photo Hugh van Noorden 2019)

Maintenance Status

Thomas River Hut is one of the most recent Permolat maintain-by-community initiatives with Geoff Spearpoint as signatory. Geoff obtained some Back Country Trust funding to carry out repairs and trackwork and completed this work in November 2016. Then in 2018-19 a series of floods washed out a large section of riverbank and left the Hut balanced on the edge of the River. In May DOC cleared some forest on higher ground and winched the Hut out of harms way, then in September Geoff and another team flew in, pulled it onto higher ground and set it back on piles. Thomas River Hut had missed out on having any significant maintenance for a couple of decades prior to all of this. A crossing of the Haast River by raft or jet boat is required to access the the Thomas valley and the route up to the Hut is is a mix of river travel up the TL of the valley. Most of the visits to the Hut are fly-ins.

Location

Haast Catchment, Thomas River. NZTopo50 Map: BY12 Grid/NZTM2000 coordinates: E1294389, N5132955 (BY12 944 329). 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.

Access

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 marked 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.

Type

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

Condition

Thomas River was still in reasonable condition when Geoff inspected it in 2015. In 2016 he, Hugh van Noorden and Liz Stephenson flew in for a week and built a new woodshed, replaced the rotten toilet seat, 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 during the winter. Later in the year Geoff, Liz, Hugh, Tracy-Lee Burkhart, and Peter Fullerton replaced the ridging and skylight. The skylight was underlined with PVU sheeting. The end window was removed and re-flashed. 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. The Chimney was removed from the Hut when it was winched towards the new site in May. A decision will need to be made whether or not to reattach it. In the meantime the fireplace opening has a sheet iron patch to keep the weather out. Photos of the Hut shifting at: gowildnz.smugmug.com/Thomas-River-moving-2019/

Routes

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

Repairs still needed

The Hut needs the chimney reattached, or alternately, a woodburner installed. The woodburner option would also solve the mosquito problem as most of the beasties get into the Hut down the chimney. 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 toilet and woodshed have also been moved away from the River's edge. A new toilet hole will have to be dug. The woodshed was cut at its piles and will need to be properly secured at its new site. 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.