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The following is an attempt to archive some of the huts in the Central Westland area that have
been destroyed, or removed. The listing is in alphabetical order. Double click on the images and you'll
get larger photos and map locations. A double click on maps will link you to the relevant area on the NZ Topo Map website.
(Blue Duck Biv: Photo Martin Clapham 2016)
Cat Creek Biv was a two-bunk B55 design with corrugated iron roof that was
located on the Whitcombe tops between Vincent and Cataract
creeks. It was destroyed in a storm sometime in 1974 and a rudimentary shelter constructed
from its wreckage, possibly by
NZFS workers. I visited the site in 1978, but the shelter wasn't appealing enough to be worth staying in.
(Crane Creek Hut: Photo John Hughes 1980's)
Crane Creek Hut was located in the Rochfort Basin at the head of Crane Creek. In Robin Quigg's
dissertation, "Back-Country Huts: More Than A Roof Over Your Head,"
it states that Crane Creek Hut was an 8x8' structure built in 1956 by the NZFS and West Coast Branch of the NZDA.
It was pre-cut and flown in, then lengthened in the early 1980's to 16x8'.
The FS hoped that recreational hunters would have an impact on local deer numbers,
and the N.Z.D.A. considered the basin a safe place for their junior members to hunt.
The basin is an impressive sub-alpine setting, however the Hut itself was
considered quite unappealing, with few windows,
and narrow, uncomfortable bunks.
Crane Creek burned down some time after 1993.
(Cropp Hut: Photo Andy Innes 1981)
Cropp Hut was located in the Cropp basin in the
Whitcombe valley on an idyllic river flat, ringed
by sub-alpine forest and picturesque waterfalls coming down off Galena Ridge. There are some great high-level routes
to the upper Waitaha and Mikonui catchments from the basin.
Cropp Hut was a standard six-bunk NZFS design with open fire. In January 1969 culler Greg Kohler
found it with its chimney almost torn off by a recent storm.
Colin Yeates and Peter Annett repaired and painted the Hut, possibly removing the
chimney at the same time.
In the mid 1970’s the Hut was blown off its piles and was repaired by Tony Newton and his workers
Reports of recurring wind and flood damage continued right through to the Hut's demise.
The Hut was used by the Ministry of Works Meteorological division from
the late 1970's for rainfall and riverflow monitoring it was here that NZ's record for the heaviest rainfall
in a 48 hour period
(1049mm) was recorded in 1995. The Department
insulated and lined the Hut and a coal range was installed by the NZFS in August 1981.
Cropp Hut was hit by a flash-flood in 1995 and a hutbook entry
later that year reports it being turned around off its piles, with a foot of sand inside, and a tide mark 18
inches up the wall.
DOC were intending to repair the Hut, but discovered that the sodden batts in the walls
had rotted the frame beyond salvation. Sections of iron cladding and frame
were flown over to the flat on the TL of the River, and the rest burned.
These remnants are still there a short distance from NIWA's meteorological equipment.
The Permolat Group has suggested that DOC fly a hut or
biv designated for removal up to the basin to replace Cropp Hut, but they're not keen on this idea. Pity! It's
a fantastic location.
Diedrichs Creek Hut was located on the TR of Diedrichs Creek on the frontal terraces of the Diedrichs Range.
According to Warren Godfrey it had several names including the Internal Affairs Roadend Hut,
Koiterangi Base, Forest Service Base, and
Forest Service Roadend Hut. In the early days it
was also sometimes referred to as Sam Godfrey's Hut, as it was, on, or adjacent to Godfrey’s land.
Diedrichs Creek Hut is marked on a rough hand-drawn map
of the area, updated by Len Boot of the NZFS in Hokitika in 1962. It was accessible by vehicle along
a logging road to the Stopforth Sawmill which was a short distance further along the terrace.
It survived through until the DOC days when it was burnt down by Alan Buckland of DOC,
because the Department no longer wanted to maintain it!
(Stu McHugh, John Montgomery and Reid Cowan
at Dynamite Hut in 1958)
(Peter Rouse at the newly built Jumbletop Biv: Photo Ron Turner 1957)
Jumbletop Biv was built in 1957 on a bench at just below the crest of the Diedrich Range
between Jumbletop and Mt. O'Connor. It was a B49 structure with flat-iron walls and roof.
The builders were P.R. (Jock) Fisher, Merv Ellwood,
Ross Courtney, and Ron Turner of the NZFS. At 1500m the site was probably too high for this type of structure
and its 2x2 rimu frame was probably crushed by snow sometime in the 1960's.
It was already a flattened mass of iron when
I first traversed Jumbletop in 1976. Ron Turner
sent me a couple of photos of the Biv and
confessed to being embarrassed now about the graffiti on the rocks.
(Junction Hut: Photo Lance Barnard)
Junction Hut was a S81 4-bunk design with open fire built in 1961
and sat on a terrace above the Hokitika-Whitcombe Junction.
The Hut clearing was ringed by tall podocarp/ hardwood forest and it was shady and damp site.
There was a steep 10-15 minute
climb up onto the terrace from the River which seemed to deter most of the passers-by on
Whitcombe or Hokitka circuits, so Junction never got much use. It was only an hour from
the roadend, and Rapid Creek Hut directly over the River was a better hunting option.
The Whitcombe route was diverted
across the river to Rapid Creek in 1975 after a big slip on the TR wiped out the Frews track,
and FS stopped maintaining the tracks in the Lower Hokitika about this time as well. From then on the
Hut would have received very few visits.
Junction Hut was probably removed by the NZFS sometime in the mid 1980's.
Greg Ross recalls doing a hut check there
in 1983 and says the Hut was still in good condition.
(Knobby Ridge Biv and Mt. Robinson: Photo Andrew Buglass 1977)
Knobby Ridge Biv was located on the Diedrichs Range on a flat area of Knobby Ridge just East of Mt. Robinson.
There were stunning views from the Biv out over the Kowhiterangi Plain to the coast. Knobby Ridge was a
B55 design with corrugated iron roof and
a louvre window built by the NZFS in 1961. The access track up Knobby Ridge was a long grind with lots of ups and downs.
A reasonable-sized tarn next to the Biv
The access track was already fairly overgrown by the late 1970's when I last used it.
Despite this NZFS did some maintenance on the Biv in
February 1984 and it still would have been in prime condition in the late 80's, when DOC in one of their more inane moves
removed it for use as radio shack. It must have cost them a fair bit to fly it down.
The Biv was recently
rediscovered on a farm track beside the Punakaiki River
a few minutes upstream from the car park at the end of Waikori Road.
The story of how it got there is still not known. It has one mattress resting on the floor, a crude table inside, and it leaks.
(Knobby Ridge Hut; Photo Lance Barnard 1971)
Lower Deception Hut was a standard S81 four-bunk design with open fire, built in 1962. It was located midway up
the Deception valley on the TL. The Hut was torched by a local possumer
who was involved in a long-standing dispute over its use
Lower Kokatahi Hut, also called Whakarira Hut,
was a four-bunk design with open fire, purportedly built in 1959.
It was located downriver from Dismal Creek on the TR of the Kokatahi, at NZTM E1449821, N5248087.
It was in rough condition and rat infested when Glenn Johnston last stayed there in 1972. He says it seemed older
than a 1959 build and didn't have the appearance of the standard S81 design from that period.
It wasn't stocked with the usual
NZFS gear either. Perhaps the build date was confused with other Huts in the Kokatahi built around 1959,
or it seemed older because of its poor condition. According to Greg Ross it was dismantled by NZFS in
1983 and the materials used to make outhouses and woodsheds for Poet, Frisco, Frew, Sir Robert,
and other huts in the Hokitika and Mungo valleys. All that remains currently at the site
is a small slab of concrete
and some orange painted flat iron, most of it neatly stacked.
Lower Styx was a standard S81 four-bunk design with open fire, built in 1959. It was located
on the River flat on the TL of the lower Styx. When John Bathgate visited in the early 1970's, it
had been used regularly by a Government hunter and still had equipment
and some food supplies. When I stopped there in the mid-70's the Hut was empty of
provisions and starting to get a bit shabby. A bit of debris can still be found near the hut site,
next to the DOC stoat-line.
(Remains of Lower Toaroha Hut: Photo Glenn Johnston 2014)
Lower Toaroha or Kereru Creek Hut in the Lower Toaroha valley was built in 1961 and was probably a S81
four-bunk design with open fire.
Glenn Johnston relocated the hut remains in 2014, East of Kereru Creek at NZTM2000: E1448131/ N5247615.
The tongue and groove floor was still there, as was most of the framing and window frames.
The faded orange paint was recognisable on some of the woodwork.
The Hut was pulled down 4-5 years ago according to Ted Brennan of DOC,
the flat-iron and roofing iron removed, and the woody bits left to rot.
Prior to its dismantling it was in poor condition, with the flat-iron pretty much holding things together.
The floor and piles were knackered, as was much of the framing. Part of the route to the site is via an old
logging tram from part way up Kereru Creek. It's pretty close to a clearing with a deer pen.
Sphagnum moss poachers also used to visit the area.
An old logging tram leads fairly close to the Hut site
and someone had been keeping the route to the deer pen in reasonable order.
(Monro Mistake Hut: Photo Paul Elwell-Sutton)
(Old Mt. Brown Hut: Photo John Hughes 1985)
The Old Mt. Brown Hut was located at 820m on the middle
of the three
southern spurs of Mt. Brown, in the Styx catchment. It was built as far as I know for
research purposes, possibly by the Forest Research Institute for possum studies,
some time in the 1970's. It looks identical to Huts built by Derrick Field of the NZFS in the
Waitotara and Matemateonga forests
in Taranaki during the early 1970s. www.waitotara.co.nz/maungarau%20hut.htm
These huts were an official NZFS design, adopted from a similar
hut built by possum researcher Les Pracy in the Pararaki valley, Haurangi forest,
and were called "Pracy Temporary huts". The exterior was malthoid, and the interior was chicken wire
over a sawn precut timber frame.
Old Mt. Brown Hut was surrounded
by montane forest and was quite dark
and dingy. It had no means of heating and there was no fresh water supply.
The location and design combined to make it a rather uninviting place to stay. The Hut was reached
by way of what is now the Styx valley access track to the new Mt. Brown Hut.
At that time the trail
didn't come all the way up the ridge but followed Mt. Brown Creek into its middle section, before climbing
steeply onto the spur to the bench where the Hut was sited. The trail then continued up onto the Mt. Brown tops.
The Old Mt. Brown Hut was removed by DOC around 2006.
(Duncan Hamilton at Noisy Biv: Photo Glenn Johnston 1975)
Noisy Biv was located on the TR of the Noisy Creek basin in the Whitcombe Valley.
It was a B49 structure with flat iron walls and roof built in
Noisy was a handy stopover on the route between Frew Hut and Cropp Basin Hut, but
wasn't maintained from the mid 1970's onward. It became increasingly
delapidated over the years and was eventually blown off its piles.
Noisy Biv was removed by DOC in 2006 and some of its
rafters and iron cladding were used to repair Whitehorn Biv, which was rescued from the Hokitika Dump
at the same time. Dave Ogle salvaged a few other bits to use on his restoration of
Top Kokatahi Biv.
The track up to Noisy Creek Basin was recently reinstated by DOC to fully maintain,
however the old NZFS track from the Noisy Creek tops down
down into the Cropp basin hasn't been maintained for decades and
will be seriously overgrown, or gone completely in places.
Someone was sounding DOC out a while back about the possibility of
constructing a high-stud Biv
in Noisy Creek Basin near the old Biv site. Be nice if that happened.
(Pyramid Hut: Photo Stan Conway from the NZAC Collection at the Hocken Library)
The West Coast Times in 1906 reports there being lobbying for Westland County Council
to build a hut near the foot of the Browning Pass at the “Pyramids.”
An NZFS report from 1981 states that the hut was built about 1908 by Ern and George Pfahlert and Bert Fiddes,
probably with financial help from the Council.
It was constructed for use by gold miners, prospectors and the packers supplying them.
George Pfahlert and Bert Fiddes have gold bearing reefs named after them in the head of the Wilberforce.
Supplies were packed in from the West Coast side for mining and prospecting these reefs.
Once mining operations ceased trampers used the hut for shelter. An article from 1921 names
the Hut as one of the shelters on the Pass route. It describes the structure
as a "capacious hut." Pyramid Hut was on a
man-made, leveled bench supported at the
front by a wall of stacked rocks. It had low rock walls around the
exterior up to below window level. The roof
was corrugated iron and the interior framing was hewn native timber.
(Rapid Creek Biv: Photo Glenn Johnston 1975)
Rapid Creek Biv had a brief existance
in the head of Rapid Creek in the Hokitika valley.
one of the last of the new generation high-stud B149 designs built in 1974 by the NZFS.
Rapid Creek Biv was lined,
had two bunks, and two louvre windows. It was very cosy and the views were stunning, but visits were few and far between.
Access to the Biv was up the Miserable Ridge
tops track from Rapid Creek to around 800m, then down a steep gut into Rapid Creek.
The Creek was followed up into the headwaters from where a steep ridge climb led up to the Biv.
Rapid Creek Biv was still in mint condition in the late 1980's
when DOC decided to remove it, at some expense no doubt, to be
used as a radio shack. It's current location, if there is one, is unknown.
(Secretary Ridge Biv: Photo Jock Spinks)
Secretary Ridge Biv was located on point 1210m on Secretary Ridge, high on the TL of the Toaroha valley
at the Northern end of the Diedrichs Range. Visitors were no doubt deterred
by the steep, narrow and scrubby ridge that led down to it from Squall Peak.
It was a NZFS B55 design built in 1961, and
dilapidated by the mid 1970's when I first went there.
The door was off,
a sheet of iron missing from the roof, and rusting cans, utensils, and spent 303 cartridges
littered the ground around it. There didn't appear to be
a water source in the vicinity and the climb back up onto Squall Peak through the scrub
removed any incentive for future visits.
I'm not sure whether the Biv just crumbled away after that, or was removed at
Recent attempts to visually locate its remnants from Squall Peak in recent times have proved fruitless, and I'm not keen to
go back down and have a look.
(Squid Hut: Photo Andrew Buglass 2005)
Squid Hut was an S81 4-bunk design with open fire built in 1959. It was located on the TR
of the Kokatahi River above the Whakaria Gorge. The NZFS ceased maintaining the tracks on the TR
of the Kokatahi sometime in the 1970's and they
rapidly reverted back to bush. As a result, folk stopped using that side of the valley.
A local possumer lived
there for a time in the early
1990's. Squid Hut was designated for removal in DOC's 2003/ 4 Review,
but was deemed salvable by the Permolat Group.
Its floor and
rotting, but the upper frame was dry and in good shape. There was little sign of recent visitation when we visited in 2005.
Permolat had just decided to go ahead with a maintain by community contract with DOC
in 2008, when Squid burned down. It had been getting a
few more visits since
we'd trimmed and
marked the access track, and someone had probably left a fire going in the dilapidated fireplace.
(Styx Saddle Hut: Photo Glenn Johnston 1976)
Styx Saddle Hut was located in the Arahura valley a short distance down from Styx Saddle
on the Browning Pass track.
It is marked on
a map published in June 1906. Several entries in the West Coast Times
suggest the Hut was built by Westland County Council in 1905, although
construction was being promoted in 1904 and earlier. It was in fairly constant use by 1906.
It was still in relatively good condition in the early 1970's when I first visited it. The frame was
sawn or adzed from timber growing near the site, and the cladding was corrugated iron.
Bunks were of sacking and the beams and studs
were a trove of local names carved, or written in charcoal, including that of Stan Graham of "Bad Blood" fame.
The Hut was demolished several decades back, but the
site is still clearly visible next to the bench track 10 minute down from the Styx Saddle turnoff.
(Twins Hut: Photo Lance Barnard 1971)
(Twister Biv: Photo David Ramm 2008)
Vine Creek Hut was located on the TR of Vine Creek on the frontal terraces of the Diedrichs Range.
Warren Godfrey has seen photos what he thinks may have been an Internal Affairs cullers hut at the site that
would predate the building of an NZFS four-bunker there in 1961. As this was one of the first deer liberation areas
it is quite possible.
Glenn Johnston had a look around where the huts were shown to be on the 1970 topo maps,
but the bush and cutover from that era has now been cleared for farming.
(Whitehorn Spur Biv looking over to the Main Divide: Photo Geoff Spearpoint 2004)
Whitehorn Spur Biv was located at around 1450m on Whitehorn Spur at the
Southern end of the Browning Range. It was a B49 design
with flat iron walls and roof built by the NZFS in
1958. A track up from Crawford
Junction provided access and the Browning Range could be traversed
from the Biv.
Whitehorn Biv was seldom visited, even in its heyday. It was retrofitted by NZFS with bunks and
a bench around 1974, but after this was not maintained. The Biv developed
a serious roof leak sometime in the 1970's and the roof caved in at some point,
possibly a combination of frame rot and snow pressure. The door came off later
down the track and over time the structure became pretty much
uninhabitable. Whitehorn was removed by DOC in 2006 and dropped at the Hokitika Dump. I salvaged it from
the Dump, repaired it,
and it is now sitting on Dave Ogle's property in
the Arahura Valley awaiting further deployment.
The Permolat Group has at times deliberated recutting the Whitehorn Spur track from Crawford
If this were done we might be able to convince DOC to let us put the Biv back, perhaps at a slightly lower altitude.
Whites Hut was a S81 four-bunk design with open fire located on the TR of the Kokatahi. It was
built by the NZFS in the late 1950's and sat high on a TL terrace above the TL
branch of Whites Creek (around 300m altitude, approx. E145376/ N524623).
Whites was a couple of hours upriver from Squid Hut and like Squid,
was seldom visited after the tracks on the TR of the Kokatahi were abandoned by NZFS in the early-mid 1970's.
an NZFS deer culler
in the 1960's, recalls, "the deer concentration back then was in the luxuriant nettle, toi toi,
sedge growth on slip faces of the unstable Kokatahi gorge. The experienced hunter unfortunate enough
to be assigned the Kokatahi would beat the Squids, Whites, Twins, Boo Boo circuit,
deviating to Junction Base to keep the radio schedule.
Whites and Twins were well-used huts in the 1969-70 hunting seasons, with
an improvised rope to aid crossing the gorge between them."
A DOC foot party inventoried Squid and Whites in 1996. The track was unusable by then and the
the Hut was accessed directly from the Kokatahi riverbed. It was surrounded by dense hardwood regrowth, and although
still intact and upright, the entire frame and floor were rotten and the floorboards caved in under the weight
of the visitors feet. Whites was removed in 2006.
(Wren Creek Hut: Photo Ted Smith 1961)
Wren Creek Hut was a S81 four-bunk design with open fire built by the NZFS in the late 1950's.
It was located Wren Creek Basin in the Toaroha valley. Below the basin
the Creek drops steeply through down a series of falls
to the top end of Cedar Flat. Access to Wren Creek basin was up a ridge track
on the TR of Wren Creek that continues
up to Alan Knob. A side-track dropped from a knoll in the sub-alpine zone
down into the basin. John Bathgate who worked for NZFS in the area from 1969-72 says that the Hut was
knocked of its piles by the Creek in 1966, and not restocked from then on.
By 1969 the few remaining supplies, even the canned spaghetti, were semi-mumified.
The floor was holed by stream debris around the food cupboard and possums appreciated the convenient access.
The whole structure had a list. I spent a night there in 1986 and by then the front end of the Hut had collapsed. The
rear was still intact and upright however and the bunks dry. The track to Alan Knob was
still OK at the time, but the side-track into
the basin was already overgrown and difficult to follow.
The ridge track may still be OK to follow and have had the odd trim
from possumers or hunters over the years. The Hut is likely to be a pile of rusty iron by now.
Wren Creek basin is a picturesque and backs onto some steep and gnarly looking faces
on the Toaraha Range.