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Mikonui Spur Biv

Mikonui Spur Biv

(Mikonui Spur Biv looking across to Remarkable Peak: Photo Andrew Buglass 2015)

Maintenance Status

Mikonui Spur Biv and the track to it are designated as fully maintain. The Biv received a full makeover from DOC in 2004 and the access track was recut in 2013.

Location

Mikonui catchment. Grid Ref: E1431895/ N5233867. Map BV18. 1130m altitude. Mikonui Spur Biv is located on a bench at the scrub/ tussock boundary on Mikonui Spur. The Spur divides the Dickson and Mikonui rivers and has superb views of Remarkable Peak and out across the coastal plains to the Tasman Sea. The Biv can be accessed in a day from the Mikonui roadend and receives a steady, low-level flow of mostly overnight visitors. Many try to fit in a climb of Mt. Bowen, and the more adventurous a traverse from here around the Whitcombe/ Mikonui tops.

Access

Access to the Mikonui valley is via the Totara Valley Road, a rather torturous 16kms of gravel that is well cared for by the Westland County Council, and kept useable for 2WD vehicles. Access to Mikonui Spur Biv from the roadend is via the TR of the Mikonui. There is a short section of track around a bluff, then an hour or so up the river flats to where the Dickson River comes in. Ford the Mikonui River around 400m up from its confluence with the Dickson opposite an old flood channel with a deer pen on its TR bank. Follow the flood channel up along the shingle terrace on its TR for 200m to where the track entrance is marked. The track was last cut by DOC in 2013 and is still in pretty good shape. There several patches of windthrow at bottom end and a bit of seedling regrowth, mostly in the sub-alpine zone. The track climbs steeply onto the terrace initially, then veers ENE up a broad bush spur, climbing steadily to around 850m. The spur flattens and here the track wends its way through the montane/ sub-alpine zone, changing direction several times. The ridge steepens and becomes better defined in the alpine scrub zone, leading eventually to a flat bench with tussock and scattered scrub at point 1116m. There is a dip after this and a tussock gully. The track exits the gully and climbs through a band of alpine scrub onto the bench where the Biv is located. Allow 4-5 hours from the Mikonui roadend to Mikonui Spur Biv. A ford of the Mikonui is required if coming up the TR from the roadend. If travelling from Mikonui Flat Hut, a ford of the Dickson is necessary. Both of these are OK at normal flows, with the easiest crossing being that of the Mikonui above the Dickson Confluence.

Type

Mikonui Spur Biv was built in 1960 and was one of the last of NZFS two-person B49 designs with a flat-iron roof. It is a basic shell with no bunks, mattresses or furnishings, and single perspex window at the far end. There is no toilet. A smallish tarn next to the Biv provides drinking water. There appears to be marginal reception here if you have a Telecom mobile.

Condition

DOC replaced the piles and roof, and painted and sealed the exterior of the Biv in 2004. The floor was damp around the edges of the floor plates when we visited in September 2015, but was bone dry in the middle. Some of the dampness is possibly snow seep. There were some damp patches on top plates as well and water had been seeping down a rafter onto the top plate in NE corner. The 2004 paint job is now streaking rust quite badly on the roof, and a few of the nails were lifting on exterior wall cladding. I banged them in with the hut hammer. The window frame paint is flaking quite badly. The hut book was soggy from lying on floor.

Routes

Mt. Bowen is accessed up the Spur through a band of scattered alpine scrub, then open tussock. There is one steep section of ridge at the top of the scrub zone that some find a bit daunting. Above the tussock line some fairly easy scree slopes lead to the summit. These are usually snow covered in winter and spring. Explorer Hut could be accessed from the Miserable Ridge tops down an old NZFS track to Explorer Saddle, although it's probably quicker to drop back down to the Mikonui valley and go that way. The section of ridge between Miserable Ridge and point 1177m passes through a band of alpine scrub however, which may present a challenge getting through. The track starts around point 1122m was cut and taped to within about 100 vertical (800 lineal) metres of the tussock by volunteers in 2009. The uncut bit at the top is overgrown, but has been used by at least two parties for access in recent years. There are plenty of tarns and good campsites on Miserable Ridge. An old NZFS track from point 1433m down to the Rapid Creek junction is very overgrown, and probably difficult to follow.

Misty Ridge and the top of Noisy Creek basin can be accessed by dropping down the couloir from low point between Mt. Bowen and Sentinel Peak. The section of ridge between Noisy Creek Saddle and Misty Ridge has two notches between points 1648m and 1686m which are very exposed and have minimal hand and foot holds. The alternative is a longish detour down Noisy Creek to around the 1400m contour, then back up the ridge to point 1686m. Once on Misty Ridge the travel is easy with good visibility or GPS. The Ridge forks at 1500m and the much better-defined North fork drops into the headwaters of Rapid Creek, while the main ridge running NE, drops down a broad, indistinct tussock face. There is a cairn near the correct drop-off around E1436655/ N5232338. Further down the ridge becomes more distinct, flattens and kinks East at point 1303m. There are sevral reasonable sized tarns and good campsites around here. The gradient is fairly level from here to Mt. Browne from where an old NZFS tops track provides access down to Rapid Creek, just up a bit from the new swingbridge. The track was given a light trim in places and cruise-taped by Phil Novis in 2008 and 12, but it's overgrown in the scrub zone now with a fair bit of windthrow. Other bits are OK, but the lower faces are getting difficult to stay on when heading downhill. Phil has placed a few large pink plastic triangles at key points. Andre Eger of Landcare NZ is planning to cut and mark the track in the spring of this year, in conjunction with some research he's doing up there.

From Mt. Bowen you can also continue over Sentinel Peak and down the spur on the TR of Noisy Creek basin. A track leads from the lip of the basin down a steep spur on the TL of Noisy Creek to the Cropp River junction in the Whitcombe. This track is fully maintained by DOC and was last cut in 2011. There was mention some time back of a community built high-stud Biv near the site of the now-removed Noisy Creek Biv, but nothing appears to have come of this.

An old NZFS track from the Noisy Creek tops down through the alpine scrub into the Cropp Basin is probably no longer followable in its mid-section. Alternative access into the Cropp basin is possible down the couloir that drops from the low point between Mt. Bowen and Sentinel Peak towards Dickson Pass. It has snow in it all year round, is steep, and would require ice axes, crampons, and possibly a rope for some of the year. In summer and autumn the rib on the TL of the couloir is usually snow-free and a steep, but not too tricky scramble to get down. Drop off the rib into the couloir around the 1600m contour and sidle over onto the main ridge across a steep scree. Take care on this bit, as it's exposed and would be icy when snow covered. Drop from the flat area on the main ridge between point 1625m and Dickson Pass down the spur that separates Reckless Torrent and Snowy Stream. Drop into Snowy Stream around 1230m and climb onto the spur on its TR. The ridge forks at the 1180m contour and either fork can be used to access Cropp basin. A short scrub-bash is necessary in both cases near the bottom.

Those wanting to traverse the tops to Healey Creek Hut or Top Tuke Hut need to figure out how to get around an imposing, vertical buttress on the South and East faces of Remarkable Peak. A sidle may be possible on the Cropp basin side, although it looks difficult due to some steep and actively eroding faces. It may be necessary to drop quite a long way into the Cropp. There is a nice flat section SW of Remarkable Peak leading to the start of Galena Ridge. Healey Spur drops off down a section of steep loose rock when snow-free. There is a dip at the bottom of this, followed by a short razor-backed section that can be traversed with care, or avoided by dropping onto the tussock slopes on the Healey Creek side and sidling between the 1500 and 1600m contours. It is necessary to climb back onto the Spur NW of point 1643m due to deep slot that prevents a more direct sidle down to the Hut.

Travel along Galena Ridge from Remarkable Peak to point 1794m very straightforward in good conditions. Top Tuke Hut is accessed down the prominent ridge that runs West from point 1864m. There is one short exposed section near the top of the ridge that can be negotiated without too much difficulty. The spur forks further down and the SE branch is taken. Drop from this in a southerly direction into the basin below. A route through a band of bluffs down into the Tuke River can at the lip of the basin on the TR, next to the top of the waterfall. A small notch here, around E1428665/ N5227080, provides access down onto some steep rib with a small creek on the TR. The creek can be followed down towards the Hut, which is visible from the top of the bluffs in fine weather. Sidle out on the creek where it flattens and make a direct bee-line through patchy scrub to the Hut.

There used to be an old NZFS track from the 1300m contour on Mikonui Spur down the ridge that separates Kaka Creek and the upper Mikonui. It would have emerged somewhere opposite the start of the track to Explorer Saddle. It was permolatted originally, but was never maintained. In terms of ease of travel, or usefulness as a route, it probably differs little from the untracked ridges in the vicinity.

Repairs Needed

A repaint and seal. Replacement of the lifting flatheads on the roof and wall cladding with small screw in hex bolts. The hutbook needs a waterproof cover. The required work looks like it's shaping up to be another Brennan family project. The windthrow near the bottom of the track needs clearing, and a bit of the regrowth on the track a trim.

Provisions on site

The ubiquitous DOC hearth shovel and brush, and a hammer.