This site is provided and sponsored by OnlineGroups.net where groups can collaborate easily using email.

Dunns Hut

Dunns Hut

(Dunns Hut looking up to Tara Tama: Photo Andrew Buglass 2015)

Maintenance Status

Dunns Hut is a DOC fully maintain hut. An access track from Mid Taipo Hut and a route over Newton Saddle to the Arahura valley are also fully maintained by the Department. An old NZFS track up the TL of Dunns Creek from the Taipo valley is not officially maintained, but is being kept in reasonably good order by Permolat volunteers.

Location

Taipo catchment. Map BV20. Grid Ref: E1471566/ N5256348. Altitude 705m. Dunns Hut is tucked against the forest edge next to an open marshy area in Dunns Creek basin. Its actual location shown on the thumbnail below is slightly East of where it is marked on the official topo map. Dunns basin is ringed by the peaks of the Campbell and Tara Tama Ranges, and below the Hut the Creek drops down a series of waterfalls and through an impassable gorge, before flattening and flowing into the Taipo River. Dunns can be accessed in a reasonably short day from the Taipo roadend by an averagely fit party. A good proportion of the Hut's visitors are doing the Newton Saddle circuit to Newton Creek Hut in the Arahura valley. If you choose to spend a bit of time relaxing in the basin, you'll be kept entertained by a small tribe of weka that inhabit the area.

Dunns Hut location

Access

The access road up the TR of the Taipo from SH73 was washed out on the first river flat in 2013 and DOC cut a track around the bush faces above the river to get around this. It's no longer necessary to use the track at normal river flows, and the new land owner has done a bit of work on the road which can be driven by high-axle 4WD as far as the Seven Mile Hut. Seven Mile Hut, ex NZFS, became the property of the new owner, as it's on his land, and is now padlocked. Seven Mile Creek can be difficult to cross on foot after heavy rain. A trail leads from Dillon Hut on the upriver side of the Seven Mile, up the TR of the valley to the Scottys Creek cableway. The River has taken out the original trackline just below the cableway and a new bit was cut through the bush here in April 2014. A mix of river flat and track is followed from Hunts Creek to the Mid Taipo swingbridge. The official Dunns route starts downstream from Mid Taipo Hut on the TL of the Taipo. Follow the river flats down and across Hura Creek to the bottom end of the flat. A track enters the bush here and climbs up a gut and over a low bush saddle into Dunns basin. Once on the saddle the going is easy through beautiful montane forest, and a gentle drop into Dunns basin. Travel time to Dunns from Mid Taipo is around two hours, or six from Dillon Hut. This track was last cut and sprayed in 2015.

There is a quicker and much more direct route to Dunns up an old NZFS track on the TL of Dunns Creek which has been kept open by volunteers. It was last trimmed and marked in 2015 and is a good 2-3 hours shorter than the Mid Taipo route from the roadend. The main valley route is followed from the Seven Mile and a crossing made to the TL of the Taipo either at the cableway, or by fording just below Hunts Creek where the River braids. The ford is a bit tricky currently but offers a much quicker line than the steep 15 minute climb around a bluff on the TL when the cableway is used. Travel up the grassy flats on the TL of the Taipo to Dunns Creek, then boulderhop up Dunns, mostly on the TL, but crossing where necessary. The track around the gorge starts on the TL where the Creek starts getting steep and bouldery (around E1472576/ N5256503), quite a way downstream from where it is marked on the topo map. It continues parallel to the Creek for 40 metres then veers West up an open slip with dead-standing trees. The track re-enters the bush 500m up the slip on the TR, immediately behind a large boulder with a cairn on top. It climbs steeply up face through hardwood forest onto the ridge on the TL of the gorge, then up the ridge a short distance before sidling off it into Dunns basin. The trail then stays roughly level all the way to the Hut clearing. The Hut is tucked against the bush on the hillside a couple of hundred metres upriver from where the track emerges. Allow 2.5 - 3 hours from Dillon Hut to Dunns Hut.

Type

Dunns is a NZFS S81, four-bunk design built in the 1960's. An open fire was removed quite early on and replaced with a wood burner. The Hut was lined and had a roof-fed water tank and toilet added. At some point one of the cupboards at the door was removed to create more space.

Condition

Dunns was repainted, resealed, had some piles, framing, the skylights, and flue replaced in the summer of 2004. Some repairs to the door and frame were made in 2013. DOC track cutters cleared the Hut site, fixed the tap on the watertank, and did some rodent control in 2015. There is a wet patch along the floor where it meets the wall just under the side window. The toilet has some dry rot in one of its dwangs. There is currently a good supply of firewood resulting from the site clearance.

Routes

The route over Newton Saddle to Newton Creek Hut is up the TR upper branch of Dunns Creek. A number of short sections of track that detour through the scrub around the rougher bits of the Creek were recut by DOC in 2015. The route above the bushline on both sides of the Saddle is poled. Those with experience in the remote huts zone should allow 4-5 hours for the crossing in good conditions. The huge variation in track times for the crossing in both Dunns and Newton Creek hutbooks reflect the wide range of fitness and experience of those doing it. Snow may slow things considerably in the colder months.

A traverse of Mt. Eidelweiss from Dunns Saddle to Newton Saddle makes for an interesting side, or day-trip, in good conditions. Travel up the TL branch of Dunns Creek to Dunns Saddle is relatively easy, although there is potential avalanche danger from Tara Tama after heavy snowfalls. The section of tops over Mt. Eidelweiss to Newton Saddle is fairly gentle.

It is possible to access Newton Creek from Dunns Saddle down a steep scree and even steeper rock gut. Travel down Newton Creek is OK, although a bush-bash is required on the TR of a rough, bouldery section a short distance above Newton Creek Hut. here. The montane forest isn't too bad if you pick the right line. There is no time advantage to be had using this route and it would probably be easier just to traverse Mt. Eidelweiss and drop down from Newton Saddle if coming from Dunns Saddle.

There is a good high-level traverse from Dunns Hut to Scottys Biv over Tara Tama. Access is up an open gut 20 minutes up Dunns Creek, around E1471066/ N5256463. The gut is an active avalanche chute after heavy snowfalls and discernment is needed when using it during the colder months. The gut provides rapid access up onto a broad tussock spur with spectacular rock outcrops, and from here a straightforward rock scramble up to the summit of Tara Tama. The traverse to Scottys Saddle is straightforward, and it is 20 minutes descent down reasonably gentle tussock faces to the Biv, which is visible for most of the traverse. It is also possible to drop directly down to the Biv from the ridge between the high and low peaks of Tara Tama. The route goes down some steepish rock guts and screes into an open creek bed below. A waterfall near the bottom of the creek can be negotiated on the TL, after which there is a short uphill scrub-bash from Scottys Creek onto the bench where the Biv is located.

Scottys can be accessed from Dunns Saddle by heading North over a couple of small knobs to a dip at the foot of where the range becomes vertical. The route sidles off the main ridge on the Newton Creek sidle across and up a scree that leads to a dip in the Range just below point 1751m. Continue along the crest of the Tara Tama Range from here to Scottys Saddle. Ice axes and crampons may be necessary in winter and spring for the above routes.

Griffin Creek Hut can aslo be accessed from Dunns using the Scottys routes. Drop into the Griffin from the unnamed saddle 200m South of Scottys Saddle, which has a large boulder with a cairn on top of it. A steep scree leads into the unnamed creek catchment below, and the creek is then followed down. A waterfall in the alpine scrub zone can be negotiated using a short section of track on the TR. Below the fall the creek is steep with large boulders and small cataracts and a reasonable degree of agility and sure-footedness is required to get down. Further down it flattens somewhat and the going gets easier. The Rocky Creek track crosses the creek about 400m above its confluence with the Griffin, and this is followed down the TL to where it connects with the main valley track 20m above Griffin Creek. From here it is around 15 minutes upriver to the Hut.

Repairs

A bit of sealing work may be required to stop the water getting in under the side window. The rotten dwang in the toilet needs replacing.

A rodent blitz is also required.

Provisions on Site

Two shovels (one has a broken handle), an axe, an aluminium basin, a battered billy, a bow saw, a broom, a stainless steel bucket, a spare louvre pane, two metal stools carried in by some appreciative Dutch visitors, and the ubiquitous DOC hearth brush and shovel.