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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 the Hut the River is more benign and rises at a gentle gradient to its headwaters.
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 padlocked at night and the key is available from the house down the road
(other side of Puzzle Creek - R.W. Burgess, phone 03 738 0177).
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, then drops back closer to the river and follows the
terraces to just past the Morgan River confluence. There is a short stretch of boulder-hopping
here before the track re-enters the bush. DOC have done some disking in a couple places on the TR here,
however fording is unnecessary, and would not be possible in any case, if the river was up.
The track re-enters the bush at the start of the Second Gorge
and climb/ sidles along some steep faces on the TL above the river. The terrain is uneven
and rocky underfoot and after an hour or so of sidling Jacko Flat comes into view. The track drops
gradually to the river and poles mark the route from here along Jacko Flat.
There is a short section of track from Jack's Creek (unnamed on the Topo Map) up to Jacko Flat Hut.
The hut is in a grass clearing surrounded by small hardwoods, 20 metres from the river. Allow 4.5 - 5.5 hours
for the trip up from the road-end. DOC cleared the section from the Morgan River confluence to Jacko Flat Hut in
May 2015, and plan to return to complete the section between the road-end and the Morgan River.
The track down to Jacko Flat from Top Crooked Hut was cut by DOC in 2009
and cleared again in 2012 and May 2015. It passes through fairly open beech forest initially,
and there are a couple of short riverbed sections near the top (all on the TL). 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 - 2.5 hours to Top Crooked Hut from Jacko Flat Hut.
The grass clearing surrounding Jacko Flat 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.
There is a toilet. Water is
from the River.
Jacko Flat Hut Should be in reasonably good condition. It was repainted and resealed
by DOC in the summer of 2003/ 4. 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 floor is starting to sag a bit also. The Hut will need
some remedial maintenance in the medium-term.
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.
Patching or replacement of the iron at the foot
of the chimney will be required at some point in the medium term. Some underfloor work
or leveling may be required longer-term, and perhaps some repiling.
There are three billies, a pot,
a large camp oven, an aluminium
wash basin, a large plastic water container, an old NZFS food drum with a bit of food in it,
a fish slice, an axe, two brooms, one spare broom handle, heaps of permolat,
seven old perspex louvre panes, and a hearth brush and shovel. There are odds and sods of timber under the Hut.