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(Jacko Flat Hut looking up to the North face of Mt. Alexander: Photo Andrew Buglass 2007)
Jacko Flat Hut and the track to it from the Crooked
roadend are fully maintained currently.
Crooked River catchment. Map BU20. Grid Ref:
E1487860/ N5270715. Altitude
415m. Jacko Flat Hut is located on the TL of the Crooked River at the top end of Jacko Flat.
The beech covered slopes around the Flat rise rapidly to sheer rock
on the Northern face of Mt. Alexander. There are two gorges in the lower Crooked valley
and the terrain is rough underfoot. Upstream of Jacko Flat the River is a mix of rougher terrain and reasonably gentle
The Crooked has always been a fairly low-use valley, with visitor numbers declining further
in the 90's and 00's when the tracks were left unmaintained for a lengthy period.
DOC started regularly recutting them again in 2009, with the last lot of maintenance taking place in 2015.
Crooked Valley access is up the old Rotomanu - Kopara Road, which turns
off Bell Hill Road just after Puzzle Creek. The road is rutted and scoured out in places, but marginally OK for 2-wheel drive.
A sign on the upper gate warns users that the landowner accepts no responsibility for any problems with vehicles.
The gate has been padlocked in the past, but is open currently.
The lower gate is often padlocked but the key is available from R.W. Burgess (03 738 0177) at the first house
on the Rotomanu side of Puzzle Creek.
The Jacko Flat track starts behind the Kopara Reserve sign adjacent to the piles of the old Crooked River bridge.
It climb/ sidles around the first gorge for an hour or so, and the going is undulating and boggy in places.
The track then drops to the River, follows the boulders for a short section, then climbs back
on to the bush terraces, with plenty of ups and downs into gullies and creeks, to just before the Morgan River confluence where it
hits the riverbed again. There is a short stretch of boulder-hopping
here before the track re-enters the bush and cuts across a bend in the River to a short stretch of boulders
the start of the Second Gorge.
The track re-enters the bush and climb/ sidles along some steep faces on the TL above the river. The terrain is steep, uneven
and rocky underfoot with tow short riverbed sections. After an hour or so of sidling Jacko Flat is reached and the route is
poled on the open grassy sections, re-entering the bush a short distance below Jack's Creek (unnamed on the Topo Map).
Jacko Flat hut is in a grassy clearing surrounded by small hardwoods, 20 metres from the river. Allow 4 - 5 hours
for the trip up from the road-end. DOC went through the track with a chainsaw and marked it well with orange triangles
in 2015. No work of any significance appears to have been done on the understory however, and while
this is not a problem in many places, in others there is some quite dense hardwood seedling and fern regrowth that needs
attention. There is also a bit of small stuff, recent wind damage, lying over the track here and there. In general
however the track is much improved from how it used to be in the 90's and 00's and pretty easy to follow.
The clearing at the Hut still allows helicopter landing access, but it is tight.
Jacko Flat is a standard NZFS SF70 six-bunk design with an open fireplace built in the 1960's.
The walls and roof are lined. There is a toilet. Water is
from the River. A wooden plaque on the wall lists the names of some of the NZFS
workers involved in maintenance during the late 1970's.
Jacko Flat Hut is in reasonably good condition, but is due again for some basic maintenance.
It was repainted and resealed
by DOC in the summer of 2003/ 4, however the paint is starting to streak now with rust in quite a few places.
The iron cladding interior of the fireplace has rusted through at the bottom and needs
replacing, although the fireplace is still safe to use. The external chimney cladding
has rusted through in a few small patches about half a metre above ground level.
The floor is starting to sag a bit in the middle of the Hut, and is a bit spongy
near the wall on the north side of the door. There are small damp patches on the floor both left and
right of the hearth that are getting soggy to the touch. The window
on the side wall has a louvre pane has some small cracks at one end, and a broken handle.
The track from Jacko Flat to Top Crooked Hut was cut by DOC in 2009
and cleared again in 2012, and chainsawed and remarked in 2015. It passes through fairly open beech forest initially,
hits the river and then climbs up and around a small gorge.
After this it alternates between bush face and riverbed sections, climbing gradually towards the headwaters.
Top Crooked Hut is up a short
(20m) side track from the clearing beside the river at the end of the track (where the hut used to
be sited before being moved higher in 1991). The hut is visible from the riverbed on a low terrace on the TL.
Allow around 2.5 - 3 hours to Top Crooked Hut from Jacko Flat Hut. As with the Jacko
Flat track the DOC boys have done a sterling job with
chainsawing and marking, but there are bits where the seedling and fern regrowth is getting quite thick underfoot.
An old NZFS track up Jack's Creek onto the Alexander Range
no longer exists in any useful form, although the occasional bit of permolat can still be found. It is
necessary now to follow the Creek and there are a couple of waterfalls that need skirting in the lower and mid sections.
The upper Creek is reportedly an unpleasant scrub-bash.
An entry in the Jacko Flat Hutbook describes a trip down from the Alexander Range tarns taking
seven hours, although the party concerned had plenty of stops.
directly opposite Jacko Flat Hut has been used on occasions to access the Lake Morgan tops and
Lake Morgan Hut. It looks OK on the map, but accounts
in the Lake Morgan hutbook describe an extensive and difficult alpine
scrub band with bluffs from 700-1100m. Although it is further, it is
probably quicker and less hassle to continue up the main
valley track and use the maintained tops track opposite Top Crooked Hut.
Hearth and chimney repairs (a riveted patch would suffice for the latter)
will be required at some point soon along with some underfloor piling work.
The damp patches on the floor either side of the hearth may be due to water coming down the chimney. This may be fixable
with the chimney work. Some small sections of the tounge and groove will need replacing here however.
The Hut is due for a repaint.
There are three billies, a pot,
a large camp oven, an aluminium
wash basin, a large plastic water container,
a stainless steel bucket, an old NZFS food drum with a bit of food in it, two bench seats, some rat poison,
a small container with large staples,
a fish slice, an axe, two next to useless bow saws, a broom, a hearth brush and shovel.
Under the bunks are 10, 125 x 125mm x 0.9 metre treated piles and a 40kg bag of eazymix cement.
There are odds and sods of timber under the Hut.