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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. The track up the TL of Cone Creek to the Hut from the Haupiri valley was recut by Permolat members a few years back. Jack Grinstead led the project which used Back Country Trust funding to do the work. He and his party also recut and marked the tracked sections of the route from the Hut up onto the Lake Morgan tops. Permolat will continue to keep an eye on these tracks.

Location

Haupiri catchment. Map BU21. Grid Ref: E1496210/ N5273690 (BU21 962 737). Altitude 700m. Cone Creek Hut is located in the Haupiri catchment on the TL of Cone Creek in a remote, beautiful, rugged and not particularly well-known section of the central Southern Alps. 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, toutouwai (bush robin), kea and whio (blue duck) in the vicinity. The Lake Morgan tops are within close reach and accessed by a volunteer maintained route just downstream from the Hut. The Hut averages 6-12 visits a year currently.

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. Gloriavale are normally happy to grant access and have provided a car parking area at E1495872/ N5281765 (BU21 959 818) which is DOC signposted. They are not keen on allowing cars to continue along the farm track to O'Shanessy Creek (a 20 minute walk). This last section is fairly rough with numerous small fords, but is still OK for 2WD. A high-axle 4WD might get you another kilometre upvalley through some pine plantations. The 4WD trail becomes increasingly boggy with a lot of sapling windthrow, and meets the River at E1498986/ N5279310 (BU21 990 793). You can cross here and make a beeline upvalley, crossing back to the TL one kilometre further up, or just continue up the TL along a rough trail over a low terrace to the next river flat. From here it is an easy amble over grassy flats on the TL to just before the Cone Creek confluence where a track goes into the bush for the last five minutes. It takes about an hour and a half to to get from the DOC 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 starts at the confluence and goes up the TL of the Creek, climb/ sidling around a small gorge before dropping back to river level at a sharp bend. A kilometre of fairly easy river travel follows and 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 you'd need to stay on the TL and take the odd small bush detour. The track restarts at the end of the creek section and climbs vertically up the side of the hill for about 10 minutes, levels, then sidles upvalley. It crosses a large side creek, then drops back to the river for 100m before re-entering the bush. The last section of track climb sidles along the bush faces above the Creek for around an hour. The terrain is rough, stoney and undulating, but the track is well marked. A fit, experienced party needs to allow 4.5-5.5 hours for the journey from the Haupiri roadend to Cone Creek Hut.

There is a chopper pad right next to the Hut.

Type

Cone Creek Hut is an NZFS SF70 six-bunk design with open fire. The Hut was 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, the interior of the Hut 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 to the Lake Morgan Tops is up a large scree just downriver from the Hut. This takes you to just above the 900m contour where 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. It crosses a small saddle and sidles through scattered scrub into the basin of an unnamed side-creek. Cross the basin and head up the spur that divides the two branches of the creek. Sidle into a small high basin on the TR of the spur. Continue up the faces from here onto the crest of the range and drop down the other side to Lake Morgan. The descent is straightforward in good conditions and there are numerous good campsites around the Lake. The tracked portion of the route above the scree was cut and marked by the Permolat crew in 2015.

The route from the Lake down to Lake Morgan Hut is on the TR of the outlet creek initially. It crosses to the TL just below a small set of waterfalls and carries on down a flat bench with tarns from which the Hut can be seen in clear conditions. Continue down and cross to the TR again around the 1120m contour. Sidle from here staying roughly level, to the Hut.

If making the crossing from the Lake Morgan side, the trick is not to head too far along the side-ridge towards Point 1368m. Drop instead from the ridge at around E1494804/ N5274769 (BU21 948 748) into the first basin. Sidle out of the basin at around 1110m onto the spur on the TL and follow this down into the lower basin. Cruise tape and cairns on the TL mark the start of the track out of the basin near its lip. Continue 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 along the Lake Morgan tops. The crest of the range can be followed in a SW direction until about 1km before point 1539m. The route down into the Crooked starts at a waratah on a ridge just off the main range at around 1420m (E1492850/ N5272930 - BU21 928 730). More waratahs lead from here in a SSW direction down a broad spur to the top entrance of a track which enters the scrub at a band of jumbled rocks around (around E1492715/ N5271960 - BU21 927 719). The track drops steeply down the bush faces to a grassy flat about 200m downstream from Top Crooked Hut and was recut by DOC in 2015.

There is alternative route to Top Crooked Hut which involves a sidle from the top of the Cone Creek tops track around the three tussock basins in the head of the unnamed side-creek, then over the saddle between points 1489m and 1436m into the upper TR branch of the Crooked River. This is followed down to the Hut. This route is more direct but 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 broken window latches need 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.