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Waikiti Hut

Waikiti Hut

(Waikiti Hut: Photo Andrew Buglass 2018)

Maintenance Status

DOC made a decision in 2004 to seek a maintain-by-community agreement for Waikiti. DOC painted it in 2005, reconditioned it in 2009 and did some trackwork in 2009. Craig Benbow of Permolat has since committed to maintaining both hut and track and intends doing a project in 2018.

Location

Ahaura catchment. Ref:NZTM2000 E1504626/ N5281361. Topo50 Map BU21. Altitude 445m. Waikiti Hut is located on a flat midway up the TR of the Waikiti River, which is a major tributary of the Ahaura River. Prior to the trackwork in 2009 the Hut was receiving extremely low numbers of walk-in visitors, and had largely become the preserve of fly-in hunters. Recent parties have remarked on the abundance of Kaka in the valley, and here is a healthy Robin population also.

Access

Access up the Waikiti valley starts from the road bridge on the TR of the River. The DOC sign states 7hrs, but it can be done quicker by a fit party. The track was chainsawed to the swingbridge by DOC in 2009 and abundantly marked with orange triangles throughout its length, however certain parts, particularly above the bridge, have a lot of smaller regrowth and there is a bit of windthrow that needs clearing. The track is undulating and rough underfoot in many places. Good route-finding skills are required The track starts on the TR at the bridge on the Haupiri-Amuri Road. It climbs up and around a gorge for the first couple of hours before dropping back to the River. It crosses a swingbridge and continues up the TL, climbing initially to get around a second gorgy section. This is the roughest bit and has a couple of active slips. There is a short, uncharacteristically flat section after the climb followed by a couple of annoying, undulating, and probably unnecessary climbs, before the Hut flat is reached. It would be easier and much quicker to follow the River from here at normal or low flows, crossing where necessary. Fording back to the TR below the Hut is easy at normal river flows. Allow around 5-7 hours currently from the roadend to the Hut.

The overgrowing flats provide helicopters access, and there was once an airstrip here.

Type

Waikiti Hut is an NZFS six-bunk SF70 design with an open fireplace, built in the 1960’s. The toilet is 50m back down from the Hut. There is water 30m from the Hut.

Condition

The Hut was painted inside and out in 2005. It was reconditioned by DOC in 2009, and was in good shape in January 2018. The fire hearth is in good condition and the flume is well constructed so as to avoid back drafts and smoky fires. The internal iron hearth surround is past its best-by date and will be replaced by Craig when he does his maintenance. There is plenty of dead wood in the vicinity of the Hut and water from a small creek 100m away. There is an NZFS food bin in the Hut for food storage. Low-IQ fly-in types have been known to use it for a rubbish bin after their piss-ups, however the rubbish truck doesn't get up that far, so please take your garbage out with you.

Routes

There is an alternative route in and out of the Waikiti valley via Logjam Creek, over a low saddle to Rochfort Basin and down Crane Creek. This route used to be quick and easy in the 1990s and early 2000s despite not having been maintained for many years, however it has deteriorated considerably since then. A couple of Permolat parties have had a crack at remarking, and given parts of it at trim, the most recent being in November 2017. With the exception of the lower section of Crane Creek, it should be easier to follow now, but is much still slower than it used to be.

The Waikiti River is easy to ford near the confluence with Logjam Creek and travel up the Creek is relatively easy. The track to the saddle starts on the TR of a side-creek that enters Logjam at the 500m contour. It goes up a broad spur onto the tussock knoll SW of the saddle. This section was given a bit of a trim and re-permolatted in November 2017. The descent into Rochfort Basin is now very overgrown with scrub, with the odd bit of permolat. Veer towards the head of Rochfort from the tarn on the saddle, keeping the tall scrub and cedar forest to your left and a patch of dead tree spars to your right, onto a tongue of short scrub and flax where the going is easier. There is a relatively swamp free route around the northern perimeter of the basin. Head from here down a trench to the South of the little hill at the edge of the basin. There is a bit of cruise tape here, then permolat markers from 2017 leading down the trench to Crane Creek. This section was trimmed in 2017 and should be relatively easy to follow now. Upper Crane Creek is reasonable travel, although the old tracked sections on both sides are more or less gone. The track leaves the Creek just before where it right-angles to the North and sidles around to the 500 metre contour where the terrace broadens. This bit was fairly lavishly remarked and should be straightforward to follow now, but is still very overgrown in places. The next section down to the creek is not in good nick anymore. The December party re-marked route, but were frequently forced away from the line by windfall and regrowth. They eventually ran out of time trying to locate old markers, and took a bearing towards the track entrance at the Creek's conspicuous S-bend (they did see the odd marker from time to time on their transect). The last 100 metres from the toe of the slope across to the Creek has collapsed and very difficult going. Allow a full day to get in and out to Waikiti Hut using this route. Crane Creek Hut in Rochfort Basin is marked on the older topo maps, but burned down some years back.

It is also possible to access the Waikiti valley from the Trent River over an unnamed saddle ESE of Waitiki Hut. This is untracked but reasonable going and is also described in Brabyn’s guidebook. The creek that drains the saddle on the Waikiti side is wrongly marked on the map as entering the Waikiti upriver of the Hut. In reality it turns North after hitting the flat and meets the Waikiti downstream from the Hut. It route up is mainly creek travel with the odd detours. On the Trent side, the spur on the TR of the creek draining the saddle provides access down to the Trent River. It should be a comfortable day's walk to reach Waikiti Hut from either Tutaekuri or Mid Trent Hut for those used to untracked travel.

A saddle in the head of the Waikiti provides access over to Top Trent Hut. There is one entry in the Hut book of someone having done it from the Trent end without too much difficulty. The descent on the Trent side is down the broad spur on the TL of the creek that drains the saddle. The creek itself has three waterfalls in it, and should be avoided. Fording the Trent River at the bottom of the descent is OK at normal flows, and it's about 15 minutes from here down the track on the TR to the Hut.

An alternative route out of the valley via the Mt. Newcombe tops is doable, but a bit of a mixed bag. The tops are great, easy walking and can be accessed from the top of the Logjam Creek track in a couple of hours. They are adequately sprinkled with tarns and good campsites. The descent from the end of the range down to point 406m and the road ain't that flash. It is steep and rough underfoot, and there is an extended alpine scrub zone, (looks like it's been burnt off some time way back) followed by beech forest with a very thick understory. There is the very occasional open bit, then a nice band of supplejack just before you hit the valley floor. It would be a fairly big day in good conditions getting out this way from Waikiti Hut.

Repairs

New iron hearth surround to be installed, 2017. The main valley track needs a fair bit of work, both in terms of getting rid of the regrowth and windthrow clearance. A Permolat track cutting party is gathering and psyching up for have a more concerted track cutting mission on the Crane Creek route, possibly Autumn 2018.

Provisions on Site

There are two billies, two frypans, a pot, a large plastic 50 litre water container, a stainless steel bucket, an aluminium wash basin, two axes, a shovel, a mouse trap two brooms with dustpans, and big broom.