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Kiwi Hut

Kiwi Hut

(Kiwi Hut: Photo Craig Benbow 2012)

Maintenance Status

Kiwi Hut is a maintain-by-community project by Graham Jackson of Hokitika, whose family has a long-standing connection with the Taramakau valley. Kiwi was one of the last huts proposed for removal by DOC, prior to a 2104 policy shift back to hut retention with community assistance. It has been traditionally used by hunters, trampers and day-trippers, and is now getting a lot of Te Araroa Trail traffic. It should really go back to DOC full maintenance because of this new dynamic, however it's probably getting a better level of care under Graham than it would from the Department. He intends applying for some ORC funding to carry out needed repairs.

Kiwi is an easy two-hour stroll from the roadend and a great place to introduce kids and the less-experienced to the pleasures of back country huts and open fire cuisine. Its closeness also means that it is vulnerable to the hoon element, so having a local take ownership is likely to add considerable protective influence.

Location

Taramakau catchment. Grid Ref: E1495191/ N5265340. Map BU21. Altitude 340m. Kiwi Hut is located on the TR of the Taramakau on a bush terrrace between Jacksons and Michael creeks. The Hut site was until quite recently hemmed in by mature red beech forest and was shady and damp as a consequence. DOC recently assisted Graham with the felling of some of the closest trees, allowing much more light and wind ventilation to get in. There is a large grass clearing just below the Hut, then a narrow band of forest before the main River flat.

Kiwi Hut location

Access

Access to Kiwi Hut is a relatively simple affair and can be done in the dark on Friday night if an early start is neccessary the next day. Fords of the Otira and Taramakau rivers are required however, and both rivers may be uncrossable or dangerous after heavy rain. The route starts at the Aitkens Corner carpark on SH73 follows a fenceline, across paddocks, and through small gate to the Otira River. The Otira is forded diagonally in a NE direction towards the point of bush on its TR where it meets the Taramakau. Marker poles lead from here along the bush fringes on the TL of the Taramakau, or a more direct NE line can be taken through paddocks and patches of gorse and scrub on the riverbed. Both routes connect with a 4WD track that is then followed. A poled route to Lake Kaurapataka splits off the track 100m before Pfeifer Creek and heads SE through patches of regenerating scrub. The route to Kiwi continues along the 4WD trail until roughly opposite Taverners Creek, where a ford across the braids of the River can be made. This is not usually problematic at normal flows. The 4WD track is picked up again on the TR above Jacksons Creek and followed to the Kiwi turnoff. A large routered sign here indicates the start of a track that leads through a narrow band of beech forest and across a big grassy clearing to the low terrace on which the Hut is sited. Allow around two hours to reach Kiwi Hut from the highway.

If the Otira is up there is a flood route up its TR to the Deception Footbridge. This was was last cut in 2012 and adds a good hour to the trip and is probably only useful if the Otira stops you on the way out. For those heading upriver, if Otira is too high to ford, then it's unlikely you'd be able to cross either the Taramakau or the Otehake. The shelter marked on the topo map at the Taramakau/ Otira confluence has been washed away.

Type

Kiwi Hut is a lengthened version of the NZFS SF70 open fire design. It has eight bunks, was built in the 1960's, is lined, and the large gear vestibule at the door end was probably an add-on. Kiwi has roof-fed water tank, woodshed, and longdrop toliet.

Condition

Kiwi Hut is in reasonably good condition, albeit overdue for a repaint and sealing when I was there last. Three of the piles are a bit dozy, but the foor is dry, level and sound. There is some warping in the internal lining below the clearlight panel on the South wall, indicating either a roof leak or condensation running down the inside of the clearlight. There is some rot in the wall itself. The chimney is nearing the end of its shelf life and already has patches rivetted on the outside, a metre or so above the ground. A while back DOC felled some large beeches that were seriously shading the Hut out. The wood from this would historically have supplied the hut for a considerable time, however heavy Te Araroa traffic is putting considerable pressure on supply.

Routes

It is a couple of hours of mostly river travel from Kiwi Hut up to Locke Stream Hut. The last section is tracked on the TL from Locke Stream. It would be possible to go all the way up the TR if the River were in flood.

The track to Townsend Hut starts around 20 minutes upriver from Kiwi Hut on the TL of the valley. head along the grass flats on the TR initially, crossing over to the TL around where Michael Creek comes in. The Townsend track starts just downstream of the unnamed creek, around 400m upriver from Michael Creek. The creek has blown out through the bush here, obliterating the first section of track and it is just as easy to continue up to the original creekbed, now dry, and follow this up to where it connects with the current stream. Continue up the creek past a large orange triangle on a dead spar around the 450m contour. At around 500m a track enters the bush on the TR and climbs steeply up a narrow rib, onto a sloping bench that connects with a spur further up in the montane zone. The spur ascends step-like through the sub-alpine zone to the scarped bench where the Hut is located. The last section of track follows the scarp through a tussock clearing with small tarns to the Hut. Allow 2-2.5 hours for the trip from Kiwi Hut to Townsend Hut, or 4-5 hours from the roadend.

Koropuku Hut can be accessed from Kiwi Hut via the lower Otehake River. Ford to the Taramakau and head down the TL bank to the Otehake confluence. Boulderhop up the Otehake for around an hour, crossing and recrossing where necessary. The start of the track to Koropuku Hut is marked by a large orange triangle opposite where the Lake Karapataka track drops down to the River. A swingbridge marked here on older maps was removed by DOC in 2012. The track enters the bush and follows a spur up to the tussock line and is is marked with red, or occasionally white permolat. It has been maintained for a number of years now by Frank King and Honora Renwick of Christchurch.

There are great views of Lake Kaurapataka and Mts. Alexander and Pfeifer from the Koropuku tops. Cairns and the odd post lead South from the bush edge along a bench and up a series of small terraces to a large tarn at 1495408E/ 5260491N, and along to another group of tarns East of Point 1259m. Drop into the Koropuku catchment down a scree just South of the tarns. The scree becomes a steep gut which is skirted on the TR. The gut becomes a creek just past a large rock outcrop with a track exiting and entering the bush on the TL at the top of a series of waterfalls. The track follows a steep gut down before rejoining the creek. This section is starting to overgrow and was given a cursory trim in 2012. A second section of track exits the TL further down, dropping to around the 850m contour before levelling and sidling up the TR of the Koropuku. The terrain eventually flattens and the track passes through a clearing named "The Orchard," 150m from the Hut. Allow 6-8 hours from Kiwi Hut to Koropuku Hut.

Access to the tops behind Kiwi Hut is possible up most of the leading spurs which have fairly well-defined deer trails on them. The creeks on the other hand should be avoided without prior knowledge of their topography. In good conditions it should be possible to cross over the range to Top Trent and Top Crooked Huts. I recut and marked an old NZFS track from the Mt. Dixon tops down to the former in 2011. There are three snow stakes and a few small tarns on the ridge just above the top entrance of the track, which is located around E1504392/ N5271380. A 100 metre band of low alpine scrub between the tussock and the first stake is fairly easy to push through. The track drops down the spur on the TL of an unnamed side-creek, flattening near the bottom and veering West across the terrace to the Hut.

There is mention in the Top Crooked hutbook of an old, unfollowable track up Tom's Creek in the Taramakau. There is a track marked up the spur behind Top Crooked Hut on the older maps, but there is no information currently on its condition, and it is possibly very overgrown.

Repairs

Kiwi Hut needs painting and resealing. The leak around the clearlight needs locating and fixing, and repairs are needed on the rotting wall sections. The dodgy piles will need replacing. Graham intends replacing the open fire and installing fire exit door.

Provisions on Site

An axe, a broom, and a small pan.