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Hunts Creek Hut

Hunts Creek

(Hunts Creek Hut: Photo Greg Ross 2009)

Maintenance Status

Hunts Hut and the access track to it from Kellys Creek in the Otira valley are fully maintained by DOC. The Hut's proximity to Arthurs Pass and SH 73 means it gets higher levels of use than most of the huts on the website, particularly on weekends and public holidays. Outside of these times there is still a reasonable chance you'll have it to yourself, and it is one of the few more accessible huts in Central Westland where kiwi can still be heard calling at nightfall.

Location

Taipo catchment. Map BV20. Grid Ref: E1477550/ N5255780. Altitude 880m. Hunts Creek Hut is located in a tussock clearing in Hunts Creek basin in the Taipo valley. The peaks of the Barron and Hunts Range ring the basin and downstream from the Hut the Creek drops through an impressive, impassable gorge into the Taipo River. An old glacial moraine at the upsteam end of the flat has a section of track leading over it to the upper basin. From here the tussock expanses slope gently for several kilometres to the Creek's headwaters. A couple of high-level cols provide access from here to the Gorgy Creek tops, Campbell Pass, and beyond. Hunts is a relatively easy overnighter, or can be a stopover for longer tops journeys.

Access

The route to Hunts Hut starts at the Kellys Creek bridge on State Highway 73, 10 kilometres North of Otira. It is a mix of track and river travel on the TL of the Creek. The first half hour from the car park is boulderhopping, then and climbs steeply up and around a small gorge. This section had become quite eroded and exposed in places and DOC were planning to go in and fix this in January 2013. From where the track drops back to the Creek, it is mostly river travel to around the 700m contour. The track restarts 1/2 an hour below Hunt Saddle, 100m up an open side creek (around E1479400/ N5258720). It sidles above the creek on the TL, passing through montane and subalpine forest, then some open areas of red tussock and peat bog. The trail re-enters the forest just before the Saddle, crosses, and sidles up the bush faces above the TR of Hunts Creek. The Hunts section is uneven and rocky with lots of ups and downs. It crosses two large screes, then begins a gradual descent into the basin towards the Hut clearing. The Hut itself only comes into view on the last 100m of track.

Type

Hunts Creek Hut is a standard NZFS four-bunk S81 design built in the 1960's. It had an open fire which was replaced fairly early on by a wood burner. Finding dry wood can be an issue here at times, and you may need to scrounge around to get enough to get the fire going. The Hut's numerous visitors include the ubiquitous free-lunchers who don't replace the wood they use. Hunts has a toilet and a roof-fed water tank.

Condition

Hunts Hut is in good condition currently. In 2004 DOC repainted and resealed it, and replaced some of the framing, a section of floor, the skylights, and the flue. In 2103 they replaced the woodburner with a smaller little cracker burner, which although more wood-efficient doesn't seem to have the same ability to warm the hut as the original did.

Routes

There is a relatively easy tops route over Kellys Range to Hunts Hut from Carroll Memorial Hut. The range is flat and open with numerous tarns and good campsites. Access to Hunt Saddle from the end of the Range is down a rock gut to the tarn at E1477239/ N5258740. Orange tape leads from here up a short steep section onto a ridge with a cairn and a zig-zag around to a second tarn at E1477339/ N5258290. Head East from here to the open swampy area North of point 935m and down the small creek draining it to the Hunts track, just East of the Saddle. The journey from Carroll Hut to Hunts Hut takes around four hours in good conditions, and a bit longer in reverse.

For the fit and experienced there are a couple of high-level routes to Hunts Hut from the Otira valley over Barron Ridge. Both are cut and marked through the bush and start from SH73, South of of Otira township. The first begins at the top of of the pipeline in Goat Creek and goes up onto a spur North East of Mt. Barron. The tracked section is not officially maintained but has been kept in good order by Doug Forster of Christchurch. The route starts at the large blue "Hotel 500m" sign and follows up the pipeline initially. At the top of the pipe the track starts, climbing up a bush face onto the spur. It then follows this to the tussock. The spur flattens at 1200m and a line is followed due West up and through the saddle between Mt. Barron and point 1629m. Continue from here across the two large basins beneath Mt. Barron on the Hunts side. Drop into Hunts Basin proper down a large scree that intersects the track just downstream of the Hut. The Hut is visible in fine weather from the top of the scree.

The second route starts on the roadside 200m North of the railway underpass. The tracked section to the tussock was given a good trim by DOC about four years ago, however this has now dropped off their maintenance schedule. It is overgrowing, but still followable, and wouldn't be too much of a job to tidy up. Continue from the top of the track up and over Point 1569m into the top TL basin of Holts Creek. Climb from here to the low point between Point 1760m and Mt. Barron and drop down towards Point 1492m. The descent into Hunts Hut from here is the same as for the Goat Creek route.

Allow a full day and good conditions for both routes. Ice axes and maybe crampons as back-up, should be carried in winter and spring.

A traverse of Hunts Ridge over to the Mid-Taipo valley from Hunts Hut is a relatively straightforward affair, with a number of possible routes down. Dry Creek is the one most frequently mentioned in the Hunts hutbook. Mid Taipo and Julia huts can be reached using these routes.

A traverse is possible from Hunts Creek to the heads of Gorgy and Tumbledown Creeks, and from here to the upper Rolleston valley, Campbell Pass, and the Waimakariri tops. Access down into the Waimakariri River from Campbell Stream basin involves climbing out of the basin onto the shelf North of point 1390m. Walk down the shallow gully at the South end of the shelf. Sidle out to the TL from here, and down tussock slopes into a scree gully descending from the cliffs of Carrington Peak. The gully provides easy access into the Waimakariri. The Julia huts are accessd by continuing West along the Main Divide from Campbell Pass towards the Taipos Breast. The route down is via a watercourse that runs from the Taipos Breast, entering Mary Creek a few hundred metres above the Julia Creek confluence. A high col on the Main Divide between points l805m and 1801m North of Mt. Campbell provide access to Harman Pass. All of the above are high-level alpine crossings and need the requisite levels of fitness, experience and gear.

There is an untracked route down Barron Ridge to the Kellys Creek carpark which provides a more challenging alternative to the valley tracks. The Barron Range is accessed up the the second big scree downriver from the Hut. Exit the TR of the scree around the 1280m contour and sidle across the tussock benches under point 1492m. Sidle around this point at around 1400m to the col between Mt. Barron and point 1629m. Drop from from here onto the high bench on the Otira side (around 1420m) and continue along this to point 1359m. Drop down the main spur down from here to the scrubline. There is short scrub-bash from the tussock boundary at the 900m contour down into the montane forest, and from here a routine bush-bash down to point 615m. A recent party found it tough going, and described it as an "epic," however because it's such a broad spur, there will be better and worse lines to choose. The odd old blaze can be found on the ridge around point 615m, and the section from here down to the car park is pretty mean with dense stands of regenerating hardwood. Allow 5-6 hours from Hunts Hut to the road.

Do not attempt to access the Taipo valley directly down Hunts Creek as the gorge in its lower reaches is impassable.

Repairs

None at last report.

Provisions on Site

Three billies, one camp oven, one aluminium bucket, one small frypan, an axe, a slasher, a shovel, a broom, and a hand brush and shovel. There are a few warratahs under the Hut.