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Crystal Biv

Crystal Biv

(Crystal Biv looking out over the Toaroha valley: Photo Andrew Buglass 2014)

Maintenance Status

Crystal Biv was designated as minimal maintenance by DOC in 2004. An old NZFS access track up to it from the Toaroha valley that hadn't been maintained for over 30 years, was opened up by Permolat volunteers in 2009 and will continue to be maintained by the group. In December 2014 I did some framing and floor repairs, refastened some of the wall cladding and roofing iron with screws, and sealed the Biv.

Location

Toaroha valley. Map BV19. Grid Ref: E1449410/ N5237943. Altitude 1070m. Crystal Biv is located on the dividing spur between the Pretty and Crystal Creek catchments in the Toaroha. It is a peaceful and beautiful spot with a large picturesque tarn and great views out over the main valley to the Diedrich Range. The Biv can be accessed from the Toaroha roadend in a day by a fit party, either by the main-valley track, or over the tops from Yeats Ridge Hut. The latter shouldn't take much longer than the valley route in good conditions. Visits to Crystal increased from one every 2-3 years to around three per year after the Biv was profiled on this website. 2014 has been a bumper year with 11 visits. There is cell phone reception at the Biv.

Access

The track up to Crystal Biv is in good condition currently and turns off the main Toaroha valley track at the top of a steep section just upriver from Pretty Creek. It is around 2.5-3 hours to the turnoff from Cedar Flat Hut, then 1-1.5 hours straight uphill to the tussock. From here it is a short 15 minute climb, following snow stakes, to the Biv. The snow stakes can be a bit difficult to follow if it's clagged in. Allow 8-10 hours if coming from the Toaroha roadend.

The tops route to Crystal from Cedar flat via Yeats Ridge Hut shouldn't take a great deal longer than the valley route if conditions are good, as well as providing excellent views. From Yeats Hut head West across the basin below the Hut and follow the snow stakes up onto a low scrubby ridge bordering Zit Creek. A trail leads South along the ridge to a broad face at the foot of a prominent western outlier of the Toaroha Range. A mix of permolat and the odd warratah leads up the face through a band of alpine scrub to onto a tussock spur at the 1200m mark. This is followed to a flat bench with tarns around 1300m. Here the SW fork of the outlier provides access down to Crystal Biv. It is easy travel down to the Biv which is visible in fine weather from around 1200m. Allow 1.5-2 hours to get from Yeats Hut to Crystal Biv, or 8-10 hours from the Toaroha roadend. Snow during the colder months may increase travel times on the tops crossing.

Type

Crystal is a NZFS B55 two-person design built in 1964. It has a corrugated iron roof and a single louvre window at its end. It had two sleeping platforms originally, however the one along the side wall was removed by DOC in 2004. An inflatable mattresses and a hand pump were flown in with the maintenance materials this year. Water is from some small tarns close by the Biv. There is no toilet.

Condition

Crystal Biv didn't receive any maintenance from the early 1970's when under NZFS tenure, until 2004. Leaks at the end wall around the window had rotte out parts of the floor and some of the internal framing. DOC replaced some of these and repainted and sealed the Biv in 2004. The sealing at the window end was ineffective and moisture continued to get in, so by 2014 various studs and floor sections at the back end had rotted out again. Some of the nails in the roof and wall cladding had started losing their purchase and were lifting. I did some maintenance in 2014, replacing the rotting floor plate, dwangs, studs and purlins, and the section of floor under the window. Additional bracing was put under the floor here. Sections of iron cladding were refastened with hex-bolts. The leadhead nails that were lifting on the roofing iron were also replaced with larger hex-bolts and the Biv resealed. Unfortunately, all of the above hasn’t addressed the rear window leak and significant amounts of water are still getting in and creating the same issues again. This will obviously need revisiting and probably means the rear wall being replaced and window redesigned.

Routes

Access to Top Kokatahi Hut via the Toaroha range is up the spur directly behind the Biv. Once on the crest of the Range, head North from point 1694m to a point around E1451479/ N5239437 and drop down the tussock faces into the upper Kokatahi. Follow the riverbed down to the Hut. An ice axe may be necessary on some of the steeper bits on the Kokatahi faces during the colder months. Allow four hours for the crossing.

Adventure Biv can be accessed by continuing along the Toaroha Range past Zit Saddle to where the poled route from Top Kokatahi Hut crosses over. The poles lead down a steep tussock face then a narrow rib on the Toaroha side. The rib is followed to where it flattens and widens and a short tracked section leads down through a band of alpine scrub into the upper TR branch of Zit Creek. Cross and climb up onto the Creek's TR terrace and follow the poles and markers downhill a short distance. The trail then veers North across scattered scrub and open tussock to connect with Adventure Ridge. A short section of track leads down the ridge through the alpine scrub to the Biv. Don't try dropping into the Toaroha directly from Zit Saddle unless you have a rope and a spare day up your sleeve. Allow 5-6 hours for the trip from Crystal Biv to Adventure Biv.

Mungo Hut can be accessed by heading South along the Toaraoha Range. There are no tarns on this section so carry some water. A vertical bit on the Range just South of Mt. Chamberlain can be sidled around on the Park Stream side. Access into Park Stream is from the low point between Mts. Chamberlain and Bannatyne. Drop down a steep gut below this into head of Park Stream. The top half of the gut is snow-filled for most of the year and the very top can be icy. An ice axe should be carried during the colder months for this bit. Once in the Park it is easy travel down the riverbed to the start of an old NZFS track on the TL. It enters the bush where the Stream veers SW, and climbs steeply up to Mungo Hut. The track is not marked on the current topo map, but was recut by volunteers in 2012. Allow 5-6 hours from Crystal Biv to Mungo Hut.

It is also possible to access Top Toaroha Hut over the tops from Crystal Biv. Head up the spur behind the Biv to just above the 1100m contour, then drop down the first steep open tussock gut into Crystal Creek basin. Follow the Creel down to around 960m then sidle out due South through open tussock patches towards the ridge bounding the TL of the basin. Head up onto the ridge via the side spur with the more obvious open tussock patches. There are a few unavoidable bands of alpine scrub to bash through on this section. Once on the main ridge follow it down past where it veers South. The Hut is visible directly below from 1100m. At around the 1050m contour a steep open, freshly blown-out gut can be picked up and followed all the way down to Bannatyne Flat. Allow 2-2.5 hours to get from Crystal Biv to Top Toaroha Hut in good conditions.

Repairs needed

Short Term: Rear wall and window repairs to make the Biv weatherproof are required fairly urgently. The window sills and door need repainting and the bits of the cladding that were bent back for frame repairs need touching up.

Longer Term: The two end sheets of roof iron on the South side of the roof have small tears in them where they've been bent back for repairs. The tears have sealant in them, the the sheets ideally need replacing at some point. The tussock section from the scrub boundary up to the Biv could do with improved snow-poling.

Provisions on site

Some odds and sods of timber, some 90x3.55mm jolthead nails, some small jolthead nails, some 11x50mm Hex head bolt-in screws for the roof, 1/4 tube sealant and a sealant gun, small tube of sealant, an inflatable mattress and hand pump, a puncture repair kit, a plastic bucket, a plastic basin, an aluminium wash basin, a camp oven, a small pot, a shovel with 1/3 of a handle, a hammer, a tenon saw, some cheap tin cutters, a small 8mm ring spanner for the bolt-in screws, a small quantity of permolat and some rat poison (there is no rat or mouse sign in the Biv). There is a roll of No.8 wire underneath the Biv.

Permolat Flyer

Yes.