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Cone Creek Hut

Cone Creek Hut

(Cone Creek Hut: Photo Andrew Buglass 2015)

Maintenance Status

Cone Creek Hut is designated as minimal maintenance. A track up the TL of Cone Creek to the Hut from the Haupiri is not marked on the current topo map, but has just been cut by Jack Grinsted, Merv Meredith, and others from the Permolat Group. Jack was granted some funding from the Huts and Tracks Consortium to do the work, all under the umbrella of a new general management agreement Permolat has signed with DOC. He and his party also recut and marked the tracked sections of the route from the Hut onto the Lake Morgan tops. Permolat will continue to keep an eye on these tracks.

Location

Haupiri catchment. Map BU21. Grid Ref: E1496210/ N5273690. Altitude 700m. Cone Creek Hut is located in the Haupiri catchment on the TL of Cone Creek, a beautiful, rugged, remote setting that backs onto the Lake Morgan tops. The montane forest around the Hut comprises rata, kamahi, pahautea (mountain cedar), Hall's Totara, quintinia, and toii (mountain cabbage tree). Kiwi can be heard calling at night from the Hut and there are weka, bush robins, kea and whio (blue duck) in the vicinity. The Hut averages half a dozen visits a year currently, but this will hopefully pick up once word gets out that there is a track, and that it's in good shape. DOC need to change the info on the valley on their website, which still states that there isn't a track.

Cone Creek  location

Access

Access to Cone Creek commences at the O’Shanessy Creek car park on the TL of the Haupiri valley. The road to the park is on Gloriavale Christian Community land and permission is required for access. The last two kilometres of this rough with fords and no longer suitable for 2WD vehicles. A rougher trail still, suitable only for high-axle 4WD, goes for another kilometre or so upvalley from O'Shanessy Creek. The 4WD trail becomes increasingly boggy with a lot of sapling windthrow, and meets the River at E1498986/ N5279310. You can cross here and make a beeline upvalley, crossing back to the TL 1km futher up, or alternately follow a rough trail cut over a low terrace on the TL to the next river flat. From here it is an easy amble over grassy flats to just before the Cone Creek confluence, where a track goes into the bush for the last 5 minutes. It takes a bit over an hour to to get from the car park to Cone Creek. There is a concreted-in hot pool on the Elizabeth Hut track on the TR of the Haupiri 50m above the the Cone Creek confluence.

The Cone Creek track turns off the Elizabeth Hut track at Cone Creek and follows up the TL of the Creek. It climb/ sidles around a small gorge before dropping back to river level at a sharp bend. From here there is around a kilometre of easy river travel. At normal flows it's possible at one point to wade one of the Creek braids to get a better line. If the Creek was running high, the odd small bush detour would be needed around here. The track re-enters the bush at the end of the creek section and climbs vertically up the side of the hill for about 10 minutes, levels and sidles upvalley, crossing a large side creek. It then drops to the main Creek again for a brief 500m section of boulder travel before re-entering the bush. The last section of track climb sidles along the bush faces above the Creek and takes around an hour. The terrain is rough, stoney and undulating, but the track is well marked. A fit, experienced party needs to allow 4-5 hours for the journey from the Haupiri roadend to Cone Creek Hut.

There is a freshly cleared chopper pad right next to the Hut.

Type

Cone Creek Hut is an NZFS SF70 six-bunk design with open fire. The Hut was probably built by D. Green and R.L. Sherwood of the NZFS in March 1965. Their names and the date are penciled on one of the cross braces in the roof. The Hut has a toilet. Water is from two creeks on either side of the Hut.

Condition

DOC Greymouth did some comprehensive maintenance on Cone Creek in November 2012. This included chimney repairs and the replacement of the ridging, clearlight and some roofing iron. The scrub was cleared around the Hut, the woodshed painted and stocked with wood, and the interior of the Hut was scrubbed and mattresses cleaned. The frame around the inner doorway has rotted at the bottom right. There is a bit of paint streaking on the front of the Hut, and some of the roof paint is flaking. Both window latches are broken. The toilet is leaning slightly forward.

Routes

The route onto the Lake Morgan Tops is up a large scree (some prefer to call it a rock chute) just downriver from the Hut. Climb to just above the 900m contour on the scree/ chute. Cairns and permolat on the TR mark the exit point to a track that goes up a rocky gut on the uphill side of a prominent rocky outcrop. The track goes through a small saddle and sidles through scattered scrub into the the basin of an unnamed side-creek. The tracked portion of the route was cut and marked by the Permolat crew and is in good condition. Once in the creek basin, head up the spur that divides the two branches of the creek and sidle into a higher basin on the TR of the spur. Continue up the faces in the head of the top basin onto the crest of the range. The drop from here down to Lake Morgan is straightforward in good conditions, with numerous good campsites at the Lake.

The route from the Lake down to Lake Morgan Hut is on the TR of the outlet creek initially, then crosses to the TL just below a small set of waterfalls. There is a flat bench with tarns further down from which the Hut can be seen in clear conditions. Continue down and crossing to the TR again around the 1120m contour line. Sidle from here around to the Hut at about this height.

If making the crossing from the Lake Morgan side, the trick is not to head too far along the side-ridge towards Point 1368. Drop instead from the ridge at around E1494804/ N5274769 into the first basin. Sidle out of the basin at around 1110m onto the spur on its TL and follow this down into the lower basin. Cruise tape and cairns mark the start of the track out of the creek at the lip of the basin, and over the saddle to the scree. Allow 3-4 hours to for the crossing from Cone Creek Hut to Lake Morgan Hut, and slightly less for the reverse trip. There is a nice three-day tops circuit up Cone Creek, over to Lake Morgan, and back over Mt O'Shannesy and Bryan O'Lynn to the Haupiri roadend.

Top Crooked Hut and the Crooked valley can be accessed from Cone Creek using the scree route to get onto the Lake Morgan tops. There are two possibilities from here. The first is to head onto the crest of the range and and continue in a SW direction until about 1km before point 1539m. The route down starts at waratah, just off the main range at around 1420m on a tussock ridge. Follow the waratahs in a SSW direction down a broad spur to the top entrance of a track that leads down into the head of the Crooked It enters the scrub at a band of jumbled rocks on the tussock line around E1492748/ N5271293. It drops steeply from here down the bush faces to a grassy flat about 200m downstream from Top Crooked Hut. It was recut by DOC in 2015, and is in good condition.

The Second option is to sidle from the top of the track around the three tussock basins in the head of the unnamed side-creek that drops down to Top Crooked Hut. Cross the low point in the range between points 1489m and 1436m, drop directly into the upper TR branch of the Crooked River, and follow this down to the Hut. This route although more direct is likely to be a bit rougher going than the the first.

Repairs needed

The Hut will probably need a paint job in the medium term. The window latches could do with replacing and the toilet righting. The frame around the inner doorway needs replacing at the bottom right. The top end of the track into the basin on the Lake Morgan route needs permolatting.

Provisions On Site

Three billies, an old NZFS storage tin, a broom, an axe, two rolls of yellow permolat and one of red, an aluminium wash basin, 3kg of 3" nails, two buckets, and an ash bucket.