About Remote Huts
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This is a skill you are going to need to develop
if you want to spend time in the remote hut zone.
It sounds simple, but there's an art to it. Travel can be really fast as you glide from rock
to rock, or it can be a slow and arduous grind. The experienced boulderhopper can see a straight path through an
apparent jumble, tell a slippery rock from a non-slippery one, and a firm foothold from a loose one.
Stepping or even leaping from rock to rock requires
a mix of agility, strength, timing and confidence, usually with a pack on your back.
Many of the routes in the remote hut zone have sections of river travel, some quite long. The size of the rocks
vary also, from football to house sized.
Speaks for itself really. Travel through untracked forest, an
experience that can be attained by stepping a few metres off any well-groomed track
in the NZ high-country. With repsect to this website, there may not be a well-groomed track to step off
in the first instance, and so bush-bashing is an essential component of the hut visit.
The degree of difficulty varies according to
the forest type, aspect, altitude and terrain, and ranges from fast, easy travel under an open canopy,
to crawling, and worming through dense foliage.
Map reading and compass skills, or GPS, are useful in some instances.
A sub-category of bush-bashing, usually of a more difficult order,
encountered in alpine and sub-alpine regions where the vegetation is
low, dense and sometimes impenetrable. It often involves
crawling, and the pushing or dragging of packs, sometimes on steep and bluffy terrain. Downhill is usually
better, but uphill or on the flat progress is sometimes measured in 100's of meters
per hour. Scrub-bashing can be demoralising, and even dangerous if energy reserves are low and the weather inclement.
Permolat is the old brand name given to the thin strips
of aluminium used to make venetian blind that were used by the NZFS from the 1960's to early 180's
to mark high-country tracks. The 50mm wide slats were cut into strips 10-15cm in length
and nailed to the trees around eye level.
White was the most commonly used colour
in Central Westland, although red,
or a mix of red and white was also sometimes used.
Many of the tracks
to huts on the Remote Huts website are marked in this way. Over time many of the original markers have
become obscured by moss or blackish lichen, or partially vanished into the expanding tree bark. In
a lot of cases now the older markers have been replaced with new ones by the permolat Group.
White markers generally signify a track, while red markers going in a straight
line uphill, perpendicular to the valley floor, are more likely to be old NZFS
lines. These are not cut tracks and usually aren't going anywhere useful. They can be further identified
by the presence of marked plots at regular intervals that aluminium pegs with permolat sails driven into the ground.
The trees inside the plot have had their stems tagged
with small aluminium tags. Don't disturb or pull out any of the markers
as they are a valuable source of data on changing forest health over time.
Cruise tape is thin, flourescent plastic surveying tape (mostly orange or red), that is
tied to vegetation to mark overgrown tracks or routes. It is quite durable and takes several years to break down.
Wilderness purists may deem it an eyesore, while others are grateful
for being able to find their way due to it.
An ancient form of trail marking, cairns
are piles of rocks built at regular intervals along a route. In central Westland they are more commonly used
in open areas, such as riverbeds, or above the bushline, and at key transition points from one type of terrain
to another (eg. riverbed to bush).
These are referential sets of numbers used to locate geographical features
on maps. They are derived the latitudinal and longitudinal grids
that we've pasted on our globes of the Earth, and help us find our way from
there to here.
Lower Arahura Hut's grid reference is E1461161/ N5253766 on the 1:50,000
series topographic map BV19. The set preceded by "E" relate to the vertical
grid lines or eastings.
The set with the "N" relate to the horizontal lines
or northings. A few of the huts on the website are still not accurately marked
on the map, although this is becoming much
less frequent with GPS and satellite technology.
GPS or Satellite Global Positioning allows
to determine our location or the location of geographical features with great accuracy. GPS
devices are a fairly standard item for many trampers and hunters these days.
Most of the coordinates on the website are still Grid References, which have been taken from the latest
LINZ 1:50,000 map
series. They can be updated with GPS coordinates and you can help us by emailing them
to us when you visit a particular area.
The word "track" here is open to diverse
interpretations and needs to be understood in the context of the relevant hut page.
It may on rare occasions refer to a well maintained and marked bench-track
with bridged sidestreams and rivers, but is more likely to be
a simple unformed trail following the lie of the land. The side-creeks on these usually aren't bridged,
and some river fords may be necessary.
The tracks on the website vary from well-maintained and easy to follow, to barely discernable
remnants in thick or regenerating bush, or scrub, and many require an experienced eye to folow.
Be prepared for plenty of ups and downs, and transitions from bush to riverbed to open tops.
The main type of marker is permolat,
by old blazes on trees. Some of the tracks in poorer condition have been
cruise-taped in places where the permolat has fallen off, where it is particularly overgrown,
or where the track has been washed out, or fallen away. Orange plastic triangles indicate
a fully maintain DOC track, and more likely on the
main valley tracks and circuits. The art of following
remote tracks is a skill that takes time to learn and done tourist-standard track experience is
not suitable preparation for
on a lot of the tracks and routes on this site.
The term route on the website usually refers to something that is non-tracked,
although in some instances there may be minimal or rudimentary types of marking, such as cairns,
tree blazes, poles, or cruise tape.
It is not unusual for routes to follow natural features such
as rivers, creeks or ridges, that provide the least line of resistance through a particular terrain. Snow poles
are a commonly found on "maintained" routes above the bushline. Routes vary considerably in difficulty
depending on the terrain, altitude, vegetation, and seasonal factors.
TL and TR indicate the left and right
side of a valley or catchment when looking downstream.
A small word
describing big stuff. The open and majestic expanses of
high-country that lie above the bush and scrub lines.
At lower levels the open tops are vegetated with alpine grasses, herbs and mat
plants, some of which have adapted in bizarre and beautiful ways to the extreme environment. These
give way gradually with altitude to, fell-field, scree, rock, and
permanent snow and ice. On the Coast the tussock line is generally around 1100m-1200m, but varies
considerably depending on aspect, soil type
and other parameters.