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Campbell Biv

Campbell Biv

(Campbell Biv looking over the Arahura valley and Styx Saddle: Photo Andrew Buglass 2012)

Maintenance Status

Campbell Biv was designated for removal in DOC's 2003/ 4 High-Country Review. It was in remarkably good condition after 30 years of zero maintenance, but almost never visited. Few people would have known of its existence at the time, or how to get there. Shortly after making the remove decision DOC flew some volunteers in to repaint Campbell and wire down its piles, the first maintenance since 1974. Campbell is located in the Waitaiki Historical Reserve which is managed by Mawhera Corporation. In December 2016 Paul Reid of Permolat received some High Country Consortium funding to carry out some maintenance on the Biv. This took place in April 2017.

Campbell Biv location

Location

Arahura catchment. Map BV19. Grid Ref: E1465770/ N5249140. Altitude 1105m. Campbell Biv is located at the scrubline on the Campbell Range on the TR of the Arahura valley. It is tucked in under a scrubby knoll on a spur that divides two large unnamed side-creeks and has a panoramic view out over Styx Saddle, and of the Newton and Browning Ranges. It is one of the least-visited huts on this site. A DOC fly-in hut check in 1996 found a roll of toilet paper that served as a hutbook with six visits recorded between 1974 and then. There was no sign of any further visits when I made my first trip there in 2001. An unopened NZFS food-drop under the bunk had its decaying contents wrapped in 1974 editions of the Hokitika Guardian. There was one tin of sardines still savable. On my next visit in 2004 I found my route notes from 2001 lying undisturbed on the cooking bench. Apart from a gap in 2010, visits to Campbell Biv have averaged around 2-3 per year since it was profiled on this website.

Access

A fit bush-savvy type can access Campbell Biv in a day from the Styx roadend. There are routes up to the Biv from the side-creek catchments both up and downriver from it. From the Styx end follow the Mudflats track down from Styx Saddle to an open, dry creekbed at E1464945/ N5250208, roughly opposite the upriver access creek. Drop down the creekbed to the River and head upstream a short distance to where there is a reasonable dry-weather ford. The access creek is steep and fast flowing in places, but reasonably good travel. There are two small waterfalls in its mid-section, the lower of which has a route cut and cruise-taped around its TR. The upper fall is cut and taped on its TL. Continue up the creek a short distance from the top fall to a very small side-creek on the TR (around E1465515/ N5248853) marked with cruise-taped and a cairn. Follow the side-creek up through a narrow rocky chute overhung with scrub, take the TL fork where it opens out further up. The water peters out eventually and the fork becomes a dry gut with a lightly marked route exiting near its top on the TR. This goes up through a band of scattered alpine scrub to the tussock line from where it's necessary to sidle northwards at around 1140m to the ridge. A wooden stake on a flat section of the ridge marks the drop-off to the Biv which is only 20 metres away, but obscured from view by a scrubby knoll. The route up from the creek was cruise-taped in 2008 and is reportedly getting hard to follow. Allow 3-4 from Grassy Flat Hut to Campbell Biv, or 7-9 hours from the Styx roadend.

The downriver access route is the easier of the two, and more practical if travelling from Mudflats Hut, or the Arahura roadend. Head up main valley track from Mudflats towards Styx Saddle as far as the first big side-creek. Drop down this to the River and continue boulderhopping upstream. The TL bank affords the best travel initially and there are a couple of good fine-weather fords just below where the access creek comes in. There is a cut, marked stoatline up the TR of the Arahura from Mudflats that can also be used, but this takes longer due to it climbing up and over a high river terrace. The access creek is large and reasonably swift, but is OK travel. The route up to Campbell starts around 20 minutes up it on the TL at a small side-creek around E1465800/ N5250098. The entrance is marked with permolat and a cairn, and cruise tape leads from it through a toi toi glade for 200m to a slip on the creek's TR. Climb up and around the slip and into an obvious rock gut, which is followed all the way to the sub-alpine zone. At around 950m a track exits the gut on the TR and cuts though the alpine scrub onto a ridge. Cairns lead up the ridge through patchy scrub to the base of a sloping rock face around 1080m. Sidle West off the ridge here through scrub and open tussock patches to the bench where the Biv is located. A permolatted stake on the lip of the bench is visible from the upper part of the ridge. The section across to the Biv was cruise-taped in places and the route up the access creek trimmed and marked in 2012. Allow 2-3 hours from Mudflats Hut to Campbell Biv, or 9-10 hours from the Arahura roadend.

There is an open patch next to the tarn by the Biv for helicopter access.

Type

Campbell Biv is a standard NZFS B49 design with flat iron roof and walls, and a single perspex window at the end. It was built by R.J. Courtney of Te Puke and K.W. Fisher of Nelson Creek on June the 5th and 6th 1958. Campbell was retrofitted with two raised wooden sleeping benches in November 1974 by Tony Newton, G. Stuart, and L. Bennett of the NZFS in Hokitika. One of the sleeping benches was removed by some unknown person, a mattress was added during a DOC inspection in 2016. Water is from a small tarn 50m away and a bucket has been left next to the Biv to supplement this. There is no toilet.

Condition

Campbell Biv was still reasonably intact when I visited in 2001 despite having received no maintenance between 1974 and 2004. This is a tribute to the simple, effective B49 bivouac design. There were the ubiquitous leaking issues however and semi-permanent dampness by 2017 had created significant areas of rot in the frame, floor and sub-floor which is all untreated rimu. Paul Reid and Alan Jemison did a significant amount of work on all of this in April 2017, replacing as much of the rotten bits as they could, but they underestimated the full extent of the rot and ran short of timber to do all that was required. Before closing the wall up again, building paper was stapled into place, silicone applied where sheets of flat iron over-lapped, hex screws used to seal the joins. Liberal amounts of Metalex were used and malthoid put in strategic places. They cut back the tussock and vegetation that had closed in around the Biv. They didn't get to the piles or bearers however. The piles are on a slight lean towards the western end of the Biv and a couple need replacing. Both Bearers need replacing. Rust streaking is now prominent on most of the 2004 paint job on the walls and roof.

Routes

There is a reasonably good high-level route to Campbell Biv from Harman Creek Hut in the head of the Arahura. Head up the Browning Pass track from Harman Hut and drop into the Arahura at the first open side-creek. Cross the River and climb up a small side-creek that comes in on the TL at E1463625/ N5246428. The creek is a natural staircase, a series of small cataracts. Exit the creek up a gut on its TR about 2/3 of the way up and climb onto the tussock bench above. Sidle from here up and around to the upper basin of Sphinx Creek taking care to stay above the large waterfall at its lip. Exit the basin up a small side-creek that enters on the TR just below where the main creek forks. Climb out of the side-creek and up a dry gut on the TR near its top. This provides access onto a side-spur that leads to the main spur dividing Sphinx Creek and the unnamed creek catchment South of the Biv. Drop into the the upper basin of this creek and sidle across some scree slopes onto the Biv ridge. The Biv doesn't come into view until you are about 100m above it. Allow 4-5 hours from Harman Hut to Campbell Biv in good conditions.

The Campbell Range NE of the Biv can be accessed by sidling into the upper basin of the downriver creek catchment. A short scrub bash is required to get onto the tussock benches on the creek's TL. Sidle into the creek where practical and climb East up onto the Range. A tussock bench with tarns above the TL of Stewart Creek would provide a good camping spot. An old NZFS track from Mudflats Hut up onto the Mt. Walcott tops was cut and marked 2/3's of the way to the scrubline by Bruce McLelland et al in 2013. The top portion is still overgrown, but OK to follow, and Bruce is planning to get back and finish the track off at some point.

The Julia huts in the Taipo valley can be accessed from the low point between points 1673m and 1682m on the Campbell Range. Drop from here onto the flat area at 1450m on the TL of the TL fork of Dexter Creek. Drop SE from here down a steep shingle scree between some bluffs into the unnamed side-creek below and follow this down to Julia Creek. Ford to the TR, and continue down the track for 15 minutes to the huts. Julia Creek can be tricky to ford after rain, so this is a fine-weather-only route. The Julia Creek track was recut in 2016.

Repairs needed

The southwest corner stud and the next stud (both 940cm long) on the South wall need replacing. Two dwangs (30cm above the bottom plate) closest to the southwest corner need replacing. Four ‘corner’ flashings would be useful to protect the newly installed corner studs given the short turn-over of the flat iron at each of the corners. Both bearers are rotten and need replacing. The eastern-most joist is rotten at the north end and needs replacing. Five out of the six piles are on a lean. Two piles at the western end and one midway along the south wall needing replacing. Pile flashings would be useful. The missing north-wall bunk needs to be re-installed and another mattress taken up. The perspex window is leaking and needs attention, including flashing There is a hole in the floor below the window that needs to be replaced with tongue and groove. The flat iron roof has rusted through in places where the old clouts were used to secure the roof. Significant rust marks have run down the north roof and north wall. The roof could do with being replaced with a single Suntuf clear polycarbonate sheet to allow light into the bivouac interior. The Biv needs sealing and repainting. A decent-sized roof-fed water barrel would be useful supplement to the tarn. The upriver access route needs some remarking also.

Provisions on Site

Two Billies, a frypan, a bucket, an antique first aid kit, an aluminium wash basin, a small hammer, some small flat head nails, a small quantity of permolat, a broom, and a hand brush. There are a few old lengths of tongue and groove under the Biv.