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Healey Creek Hut

Healey Creek Hut

(Healey Creek Hut looking out to the coast: Photo Simon Johnson 2004)

Maintenance status

Healey Creek Hut is designated as minimal maintenance. The track to it is no longer officially maintained, however Alastair Macdonald of the Permolat Group has taken an interest in Healey and he and a few others recently re-did the track, and it is currently in good condition. The Hut itself while sound structurally has started to move sideways on it's piles and is in need of some attention with regard to this. Alastair was planning some repairs, but these stalled this Autumn for various reasons, including the weather. Since then Garry Wilson of the NZ Police and a gang of friends has offered to take on maintenance, and will undertake a major makeover late this year, that will include repiling, waterproofing, and installing a water tank.

Location

Mikonui catchment. Map BV18. Grid Ref: E1429870/ N5231505. Altitude 1170m. Healey Hut is located on a tussock bench high above the TL of Healey Creek with fabulous views out over the frontal ranges to the Tasman Sea. It can be reached in a day from the Mikonui roadend and is an access point for Galena Ridge and some great alpine crossings to the Whitcombe, Tuke and Waitaha catchments.

Access

The Access to Healey Creek Hut is up a long spur from the river flats, 20 minutes upstream from Mikonui Flat Hut. The spur is steep in places, and has a number of ups and downs near the top. It was recut and taped and permolatted most of its length by Alastair, Dave MacKinnon and Alan Jemison in October 2014. Jim Masson did a bit more cutting and taping in April 2015, and Alastair some work on a couple of patches of windthrow at the bottom end in September. It's now good apart from a bit of encroaching flax in the sub-alpine zone. There is 2WD access from SH6 to Mikonui Flat up the Totara River valley and over a low bush saddle. It's a 3km stroll over paddocks and river flats from the roadend to Mikonui Flat Hut, which has six bunks and a woodburner. The Mikonui needs to be forded to get over to Mikonui Flat Hut, but is not problematic at normal flows. From Mikonui Flat Hut it's a 20 minute walk up the river flats on the TL to the start of the Healey Creek track. The track starts on the bush edge about 100m upriver from a conspicuous shingle fan, and goes up a steep rib between two small side-creeks. The rib is followed onto Healey Spur, which is then followed with several ups and downs in the alpine scrub zone. The track emerges from the scrub where the ridge flattens, around E1429500/ N5231925. Short wooden stakes with permolat lead down a gently sloping tussock bench in a SE direction to the Hut. Some of the stakes have fallen over and would not be visible in snow and the Hut can be difficult to locate in poor visibility without GPS. A moderately fit party should be able to reach it from the roadend in 5-6 hours.

Type

Healey Creek Hut is a standard NZFS, 4-bunk S81 design built in 1969. It was lined internally in the early 80's. There is no heating or toilet, and water is from some small tarns and waterholes in the surrounds. The small stream marked next to the Hut on the map is usually dry, and the tarns are prone to drying up during longer dry spells.

Condition

Healy Creek Hut was painted, resealed, and provided with new fireproof mattresses by DOC during the summer of 2003/4, but now needs a repaint. The condition of the Hut has deteriorated noticeably over the past couple of years. All of the sub floor piles are now on a lean of between 5 and 10 degrees, all in the same direction. The piles appear to be Silver Pine and of a reasonably small cross section, and are probably placed on boulders and not concreted in place. The lack of spouting and downpipes has contributed to their demise as the roof water is discharged into the pile area and it is often very wet. The interceptor drains have also filled with sediment over time and contributed to this ponding problem. If the Hut continues on its present course it could end sitting on the ground. The sub floor timber framing is all surprisingly sound with no obvious decay or water damage around the door, where rainwater has been driving in. The sheet steel cladding and bearer flashings (except for one at the door ) cover all the timber well and have protected it well. Water getting in on the hinge side of the door, and under the door flashing is ponding under the first bunk. Some of the floorboards in these areas are starting to get a bit dozy. Condensation is forming on the inside of the skylight and running off the purlin and onto the bunk below. Jim tightened the tie-downs, replaced a dozen nails on the cladding, patched a torn mattress, and carried out a pile of glass bottles and other rubbish in April 2015.

Routes

To access Galena Ridge it is necessary to climb up onto Healy Spur from the Hut. A more direct sidle up the tussock faces on the Healey Creek side of the Spur is blocked by a deep slot just East of the Hut. Further up the Spur itself there is a narrow exposed section SE of point 1643m that needs to be traversed with care. Those that don't like dangling their boots in separate catchments can drop off the Spur NW of point 1643m around the 1500m contour, and sidle along the high benches on the Healey Creek side. Climb back onto the crest at the low point SE of point 1643m and ascend the last steep section up onto Galena Ridge.

A direct traverse East along the crest of the range to Mt. Bowen and Mikonui Spur Biv is blocked by a vertical section just East of Remarkable Peak. One as yet untried route would involve dropping down the ridge running SE from the flat area East of point 1673m, then sidling in and out of the upper branches of Warning Creek before climbing back up onto the crest of the Range. The heads of the side-creeks are steep and actively eroding in many places. Once back on the main range the travel is good to the 1700m contour NE of point 1625m The least difficult route from here is via a steep couloir that leads up to the col between Mt. Bowen and Sentinel Peak. The gut is accessed by way of a short exposed sidle over a sloping gravel (or snow depending on the season) bench from the main ridge. Head up the gut which has snow all year round and is steep at the top, or cross the gut and climb out onto the rocky rib on its TL. Scramble up this towards Sentinel Peak. Allow a full day for the crossing from Healey Hut to Mikonui Spur Biv. The steeper sections on the Bowen approach will be icy at times during winter and spring, requiring ice axes, crampons, and possibly a rope.

Galena Ridge is reasonably a straightforward traverse for most of its length, and Top Tuke, Hut can be accessed down the ridge running SW off point 1974m. The ridge bounds the TR of the hanging basin of a large unnamed side-creek. The route from the lip of the basin down to Top Tuke Hut starts at the end of a flat tussock bench on the TR of the waterfall, (around E1428665/ N5227080). A small notch in the bluffs provides access down onto a spur on the TR of the waterfall. Drop off the spur further down into the creek on its TR and exit it on the TR where it starts to flatten. Continue in a straight line down through patchy scrub to the Hut. The Hut is visible from the lip of the basin in fine conditions.

Further along Galena Ridge between point 1974m and point 2001m there is one exposed notch that requires a downclimbing. This should be able to be done without a rope. The views from Mt. Beaumont are superb and it is a easy traverse from here around to the junction with Sawtooth Ridge. Ivory Lake Hut is accessed over point 2084m. There is a short down-climb of around 5m through crumbly rock just before its summit that could be problematic for some without a rope. A couple of sections on the lee sides of points 2084m and 1870m may require crampons during the colder months, however in late summer and autumn the few remaining patches of permanent snow can usually be skirted without the use of snow gear. Acces to the Hut is down the spur on the TR of the Lake.

Top Waitaha can be accessed by heading West from point 1870m along a flat bench, then dropping down the SE-running spur to the confluence of Watson and Stag Creeks. It is an easy amble down Stag Creek to the Waitaha River, and from here to the Hut.

It is an easy amble down Steadman Brow from Mt. Beaumont to Cropp Knob, where a maintained track leads down to Price Flat in the Whitcombe. The top entrance is on a side-spur that connects with Cropp Brow on a flat area just NE of Cropp Knob. The track was last cut in 2013 and it takes around two hours to get from the scrubline down to the Price Flat swingbridge.

A track from Healey Hut down into Healey Creek marked on the older maps hasn't been maintained for well over 40 years. The odd bit of permolat can still be found at the NW end of the bench on which the Hut is sited, but peters out 100m further down. The dense alpine scrub and bluffs below are not encouraging and access into the head of Healy Creek would probably be easier down the side-creek just upriver from the Hut. This appears to be partially blown out further down and may provide access all the way into the Creek.

Repairs needed:

The hut requires 12 new H5 treated piles and 2x20 kg bags of postcrete to concrete around each pile once temporarily propped and new piles fastened in place. In addition, a significantly improved interceptor drain and spouting and downpipes would extend the working life of this hut for many more decades. Building a porch may keep the rain from blowing in under the door, or perhaps additional flashings for the outside door jambs. Something needs to be done fairly soon to prevent the damp floorboards from rotting. The louvre handle on East-facing window needs replacing. The exterior cladding needs repainting. A water tank and loo would be useful additions.

Provisions on Site

A Shovel, a broom, a basin, a hearth brush and shovel, two bench seats, two spare louvre panes, a frypan, and two plastic buckets.