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Gerhardt Spur Biv

Gerhardt Spur Biv

(Gerhardt Spur Biv: Photo DOC 2013)

Maintenance Status

Gerhardt Spur Biv and its access track are fully maintained by DOC currently. The track has also had a bit of volunteer input from time to time.

Location

Hokitika catchment. Map BV19. Grid Ref: E1444715/ N5240380. Altitude 1250m. Gerhardt Biv is located on Gerhardt Spur which runs from the border of the Kowhiterangi Plain to the summit of Jumble Top (1610m) on the Diedrichs Range. The Spur is long and narrow and separates the Diedrichs and Muriel Creek catchments. There are fantastic views from the Biv out over the farmlands to the Tasman Sea. Jumble Top is an easy 30 minute climb from the Biv in good conditions.

Access

Access to the start of the Gerhard Spur track is from the Diedrichs Creek bridge on the Hokitika Gorge road. Head up the TR of Diedrichs Creek from the bridge, crossing to the TL at Muriel Creek. Continue upstream to where the valley closes in and veers SE. The track entrance is on the bend of the Creek around E1439620/ N5240650. An old slip at the start is covered in ferns which makes the permolat markers at the slip's top harder to see. The track climbs steeply up to point 867m and there is extensive windfall for on this section from the 2014 storms. It's mostly easy to get around despite some very big trees having been toppled. From point 867m the Spur flattens and continues at a fairly level gradient through montane forest for nearly 2km. After this it steepens and the track climbs up through a band of pink pine onto a bench with open tussock patches and tarns, around the 960m contour. The section from 867m to the tussock is getting rather thick with cutty grass and flax, but is reasonably easy to get through but wet. Some care is needed at times to stay on the track. After the tarns there is a second steep section through alpine scrub onto another bench, around 1120m. The odd bit of debris from the original Gerhard Biv can be found here. There is a final steep section of track from this bench up through the last band of alpine scrub onto another flat area of ridge where the Biv is located. It is just off the crest on the Diedrichs Creek side. Allow 5-6 hours from the Diedrichs Creek Bridge to Gerhardt Spur Biv.

Gerhardt Biv can be accessed from Cedar Flat in the Toaroha valley over Squall Peak and Jumbletop. A track from Cedar Flat onto Squall Peak is not officially maintained, but has been kept open by Permolat volunteers. It was last trimmed and a few extra markers added, in July 2015. It is reasonably easy to follow, with just a bit of extra work on some patches of small seedling and fern regrowth still required. The entrance is permolatted on the TL of Percy Creek, 20 metres above its confluence with the Toaroha at the bottom of Cedar Flat. The first section of track through the rata belt is reasonably open, although steep in places. In the sub-alpine zone there is knoll on the ridge with a wallow hole in its lee. The track zigs North here across the spur through a grove of leatherwood before resuming its upward trajectory. It passes through scattered alpine scrub, then open tussock patches, to a rock outcrop at 1200m. There is a large tarn with good campsites on the South side of the ridge at 1240m. From Squall Peak it's a straightforward traverse of Jumble Top to the Biv. An ice axe may be necessary during the colder months on a short, steep pitch on the Gerhardt Spur side of Jumble Top, which is occasionally icy. Allow 4-5 hours travel from Cedar Flat to Gerhardt Biv.

Type

Gerhardt Spur Biv was built by NZFS in 1972 to replace an older biv that had blown off its piles lower down the Spur. It was the second of the high-stud B142 designs that were constructed around this time. These models were taller than than their predecessors, with room to stand at a slight hunch (for some). There are two smallish bunks with mattresses along the side and end walls. The Biv is lined, and of sturdy construction. Back before the day of the ubiquitous DOC warning signs we used the kerosene cooker supplied by the NZFS to warm these tiny spaces. Gerhardt used to turn rapidly it rapidly into a sauna, and there was the odd headache from the fumes as I remember. A small tarn nearby supplies water. There is no toilet.

Condition

Gerhardt Biv has had the odd bit of maintenance over the years from DOC and in 2103 had its roof, door and window sills repainted. DOC is experimenting with white paint for the door, which they hope will reflect the UV light and not flake as quickly as other colours have done in the past. The contractors were also going to check out some damp patches on the floorboards abutting the walls, which may be caused by snow melt or condensation. There is a bit of buckling of the interior lining, probably related to this, however the Biv should be in tip-top condition currently.

Routes

A traverse the Diedrichs Range from Gerhardt Spur requires the crossing of three small peaks South of Jumbletop. The first, between Jumble Top and point 1612m, has a steep exposed section of crumbing rock on its northern approach, which some find daunting. This pitch only takes a couple of minutes to scramble up, but can be avoided if necessary by dropping down a steep scree on the Diedrichs Creek side of the peak and climbing the TL fork of the scree back onto the Range North of point 1612m. The detour adds around 20 minutes to the traverse.

Jumble Top can be avoided completely by dropping off Gerhard Spur around the 1300m contour into the top fork (E1445315/ N5240625) in the headwaters of Diedrichs Creek. Head up the TL fork to the dip between points 1612m and 1610m. The top section of the climb is steep with crumbling rock and care needs to be taken. A rock cairn and iron stake on a flat area between points 1780m and 1610m mark the drop-off point into Mullins Basin. The remains of the old Jumbletop Biv can be found nearby. Mullins Hut is accessed in a SE direction down a broad face, vertically dissected by a number of deep slots that form creeks lower down. The entry point to Mullins basin is around E1446865/ N5237960, between two small creeks, both of which have waterfalls. The bottom section of the route passes through low, patchy alpine scrub and was cruise-taped in 2008. Allow around four hours to get from Gerhardt Biv to Mullins Hut in good conditions. Ice axes may be needed on the steeper sections of the two routes during the colder months.

Further along the Diedrichs Range, Mt. O'Connor can be avoided by sidling on the Mullins side at roughly 1600m and reconnecting with the crest of the Range at the low point before point 1718m. Serpentine Hut in the Hokitika can be accessed from from a flat area on the main Range NW of point 1718m. There is an ancient NZFS that goes down the ridge immediately behind the Hut. The first section of the drop-off is pretty steep and a bit exposed in places. The top part of the old track can be located on the scrubline, but it vanishes completely a short distance further down in dense alpine scrub. A bit more permolat can be found on a knoll down in the montane zone, but I was unable to locate any further traces of the track below this in 2007. It is a rather unpleasant bush-bash from the knoll down to the River. Alan Jemison did a bit of track clearance up from the bottom of the track when we were working on Serpentine Hut in 2015, and there is a faint possibility it'll be opened up again to the tops. An ice axe may be required for the steeper faces on the Hokitika side during the colder months.

An alternative, probably not much better, is to drop down Serpentine Creek from the middle Peak of O'Connor. There are some good campsites in the upper basin, however travel further down is rough, with some waterfalls that need sidling around through steep bush. This route has been done at least 3 times in the last 30 years and the least favourable comment is from someone who wrote in the Serpentine hutbook in 2011 that he'd rather have his throat cut than do it again. Once in the Hokitika travel there is a cut and marked track over the gorgy bits. The rest is boulderhopping. Allow a long day for both of the above routes.

Frisco Hut in the Hokitika can be accessed by dropping from point 1718m down the ridge on the TR of Darby Creek basin to point 1510m. Drop down the SW spur of 1510m onto the flat tussock bench with tarns below. Cruise tape and the odd bit of permolat lead from the SW corner of this bench down through scattered alpine scrub to the top the scrub faces above the Hut. The toilet and part of the roof should be visible from here. Follow the cruise tape off the edge of the bench down a steep narrow gut and onto a steepish face with scattered Olearia and open patches. fter this it drops into a dry water course that is followed down for around 100 vertical metres to intersect the Darby Creek track just east of the Hut. The section down through the scrub is permolatted and there is a wooden sign marked 'tops' on a tree at the bottom junction. Simon Lewis, Mauricio Lloreda and Quentin Duthie recut and marked this route in April 2016. Allow a full day for the crossing from Gerhardt Biv to Frisco Hut. An ice axe and possibly crampons may be necessary at times in winter and spring on some of the steeper sections of the traverse.

Toaroha Saddle Biv can be accessed from Gerhard Biv along the Diedrichs Range. There are apparently some narrow, exposed sections between point 1718m and Mt. Ross that need to be traversed with care. The ridge from Mt. Ross down to the Biv is long, gentle and easy. Allow a full day for this crossing.

Top Toaroha Hut can be accessed by dropping off the Range from the dip between points 1524m and 1421m. Descend in a NE direction into the head of the blown-out creek that enters the Toaroha at the bottom of the lake below the Hut. The creek is still actively eroding, but provides open access all the way down.

Repairs

None currently, hopefully

Provisions on site

A Slasher, a sledgehammer, a hand-brush, a broom with no handle, two billies, an aluminium bucket, an aluminium wash basin, a bench-seat, two paintbrushes, and a coarse file.