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Dickie Spur Hut

Dickie Spur Hut

(Dickie Spur Hut looking up into the head of the Tuke: Photo Andrew Buglass 2007)

Maintenance status

Dickie Spur Hut and its access tracks are fully maintained by DOC currently.

Location

Mikonui catchment. Map BV18. Grid Ref: E1426510/ N5230443. Altitude 1090m. Dickie Spur Hut is located at the northern end of Dickie Ridge high above the TL of the Tuke River. There are superb views from the Hut out to the coast, and of Galena Ridge and the head of the Tuke. Dickie Spur can be accessed in 5-6 hours from the Mikonui roadend, and is regularly used as a stopover en route to the head of the Tuke and beyond. A more demanding alpine route along Dickie Ridge provides access over The Tusk to the head of the Waitaha River. The Hut gets a steady trickle of visitors, however gaps of up to six months between visits are not unusual.

Access

The track from Mikonui Flat to Dickie Spur Hut was last cut in April 2012 and is still in reasonably good condition aside from a patch of fresh windthrow on the section that drops down to the Tuke swingbridge. The track's entrance is in scattered scrub 200m SE of Mikonui Flat Hut, and after entering the bush it climbs steeply over a low ridge dividing the Mikonui and Tuke rivers. It drops into the Tuke at the top of the lower gorge, where a swingbridge crosses to the TL of the valley. The track continues up the TL to just below the Truran Creek confluence where it leaves the River and climbs steeply uphill onto the terraces on the TL of Truran Creek. The trackline from here to Truran Pass is at a much higher level than marked on the current topo map.

A track down Polluck Creek branches off at the Pass, and the Dickie Spur track continues up a side-spur of Dickie Ridge. It skirts a large slip in the head of Truran Creek, climbing steeply up the bush faces to the montane zone. In the sub-alpine zone the gradient eases somewhat and the track ascends in a series of steps to around the 1200m contour line where a pole with an orange triangle here next to an older wooden stake with permolat marks the turn-off to the Hut. Poles lead down a side-ridge in a NE direction to the tussock bench where the Hut is located. The Hut requires good visibility, or GPS to locate if cloudy. Allow 4-6 hours from Mikonui Flat Hut to Dickie Spur Hut.

Dickie Spur can be accessed from the Kakapotahi valley via an unmaintained route up Polluck Creek from Polluck Creek Hut. This connects with the maintained track from the Mikonui at Truran Pass. Travel up Polluck Creek is reasonably easy and a short section of track from its head up to the Pass was trimmed by volunteers in 2010. It's getting a bit overgrown in places again, but is OK to follow. Allow 4-5 hours from Polluck Creek Hut to Dickie Spur Hut.

Type

Dickie Spur is a NZFS 4-bunk S81 design built in 1968. A wood burner in the original structure was removed by DOC in the 1990's and a toilet built. A roof-fed water tank was added in 2003/ 4.

Condition

Dickie Spur is clean, tidy, and in good condition currently. DOC repainted and resealed it, installed the watertank, and revamped the toilet in the summer of 2003/4. Water appears to be getting in above the Hut door somewhere and dripping into the cupboard area. There is a small damp area on the floor in the NW corner, possibly caused by snow build up in Winter. The toilet recently blew over and is currently lying on its side.

Routes

To access Top Tuke Hut head back up the staked route to Dickie Ridge and follow the poles from the Mikonui Flat turnoff up and over point 1326m to a dip in the ridge at point 1296m. Poles lead from here down some a some steep tussock faces into the head of an unnamed creek, and this is followed down to just above where it drops over a fall into the Tuke gorge. A track exits on the TR here and sidles upvalley for 15 minutes, dropping into the riverbed at the top entrance of the Gorge. The River is generally followed on the TL from here up, although it can be forded at normal flows to afford better line of travel. DOC has cut a few small bush detours further up where the riverbed becomes rougher and more bouldery further up, however some of these are actually slower than sticking to the riverbed when the River is at its normal level. A small gorge around 20 minutes below the Hut does require skirting, and is tracked on its TL. Continue up the riverbed above the gorge to a small side-creek at on the TR at E1428172/ N5226869, which is just upriver from the Hut. A short section of track goes up from the mouth of the creek onto the terrace where the Hut is. Top Tuke Hut is clearly visible from a number of points on the route, and the tracked sections of the route were recut in April 2012. Allow 3-4 hours from Dickie Spur Hut to Top Tuke Hut.

Top Tuke Hut can also be accessed by continuing up Dickie Ridge to just past point 1920m and dropping into the upper basin from here. There is no time advantage in this route as the Ridge is a long plod with quite a few ups and downs. In addition, there are a couple of exposed sections with rotten rock on the approaches to point 1920m. One in particular is marginal without a rope, so those less comfortable with this type of scrambling should consider carrying one. To access Top Tuke Hut you'd need to drop from the dip between point 1920m and The Tusk and use a long diagonal spur to access the upper Tuke basin. The faces in the vicinity are very bluffy and locating a good line when dropping from above isn't particularly easy. Good visibility is a must then, and GPS wouldn't necessarily vouchsafe a safe descent.

Top Waitaha Hut can be accessed by continuing up the Ridge onto the NW shoulder of The Tusk. The ridge down to Ragged Peak from The Tusk is easy going and Ragged Peak's broad SE spur is used to access the Top Waitaha Basin. Drop off the spur where it is dissected by a branch of Watson Creek around 1360m. A steep rib drops west from a bench here down towards an unnamed side-creek that enters the Waitaha 100m downstream from the Hut. Drop left off the rib into a steep gut to access the creekbed 100m or so from the River. Top Waitaha Hut is visible from a number of points on the descent. Allow a full day for the crossing from Dickie Spur. Ice axes, crampons, and possibly a rope may be needed during the colder months.

Sawtooth Ridge is traversable from The Tusk, with ice axe recommended. It is necessary to sidle North off the Ridge at the low point after point 1957m to get around a vertical rock buttress, then reconnect with the Ridge at its junction with the SW Ridge of Mt. Beaumont. Ivory Lake Hut can be accessed over points 2084m and 1870m and down the spur on the TR of the Lake. A short, down-climb of around five metres just before point 2084m is exposed and crumbly in places and could be problematic for some without a rope. It may be possible to skirt this by dropping down on the Watson Creek side, crossing a couloir, and climbing back onto the main ridge. The couloir is shaded, has hard permanent snow, and would probably need steps cut across it. From here on it is reasonably straightforward, although a couple of bits on the lee side of points 2084m and 1870m could require crampons during the colder months if the snow was icy. In late summer and autumn this bit can be done without an ice axe.

Repairs

Some sealing work may be necessary to fix the leak. You'd need to be there in heavy rain to see where it was leaking, as no water seems to comes in during "normal" rain. The toilet hole needs righting and reboring.

Provisions on Site

Two aluminium washbasins, a hearth shovel and hand broom, a full-sized broom, a pick, a shovel, two bench seats, one spare glass and one spare perspex louvre pane, and four 3x3 wooden stakes.