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Mullins Hut

Mullins Hut

(Mullins Hut: Photo Andrew Buglass 2018)

Maintenance Status

Mullins Hut is designated as minimal maintenance. Rob Brown of Permolat and the BCT has his eye on it for a major makeover and recently flew in with DOC to do a recce. The access track to Mullins basin from the Toaroha valley is being maintained by the Permolat group. The track was recut by Roger Woods of Permolat, and friends, in March 2019 and is in good shape.


Toaroha catchment. Grid Ref: E1447042/ N5237920 (BV19 470 379). Map BV19. Altitude 870m. Mullins Hut is located at the top end of a large tussock flat in the hanging basin portion of Mullins Creek. It is a beautiful and tranquil spot that doesn't get a lot of traffic despite being accessible in a day from the Toaroha roadend. Sub-alpine forest cloaks the surrounding hillsides and there are views out over to the Toaroha Range. Mullins Creek drops from the basin into the Toaroha River over a spectacular waterfall. A small population of whio (blue duck) inhabit the basin and can often be seen in the Creek's deep clear pools and rapids. A number of interesting tops journeys can be made in and out of Mullins Basin. Accounts of these can be found in the hutbook, one that contains an interesting slice of history going back 30 years in about as many pages. Visits to the Hut have increased since it was profiled on the site, and the trackwork done, but it's still relatively low use. 2019 was a good year with 17 visits, however we were only the seven parties logged in the year prior.

Mullins Hut location


Valley access to Mullins Hut requires a ford of the Toaroha River, and as such is very weather dependent. The turnoff from the Top Toaroha track is a routered wooden sign an hour or so up from Cedar Flat Hut. In 2018 it was possible to ford the River at normal flows without getting your boots wet, due to the positioning of some very large flat boulders. This will and possibly has changed at some point. The track starts at around E1447995/ 5239350N ((BV19 479 392), 20 metres up the TR of a small side creek, which is across and diagonally upriver from the turnoff sign. It climbs up a steep, narrow ridge to around the 700m contour then veers South and climb/ sidles across hardwood and toi toi bush faces for 20 minutes or so. At a dry creek bed the track exits on the TR and climbs onto a narrow, gently sloping ridge with pink pine and leatherwood forest, which it follows, before sidling into a small creek catchment. You need to wade up the stream a short distance to another exit on the TR. The trail leads from here through scattered pink pine and sub-alpine scrub onto a knoll overlooking the basin. Drop into the River and follow it up for 20 minutes to the Hut fording where necessary. Allow 2.5-3 hours to Mullins Hut from Cedar Flat, or 6-8 hours from the Toaroha roadend.


Mullins is a standard unlined NZFS 4-bunk S81 design built in 1960. It had its original chimney and fireplace removed early on and there is currently no means of heating the Hut, which gets very cold in Winter. There is no toilet, and water is from the Creek.


I would have said after visiting in February that Mullins Hut was a little crooked but holding together well, and certainly reasonably weatherproof. Rob Brown's view after his recent recce was that the hut was poorly built and that it could fall over if the cladding was removed. DOC painted the Hut's exterior and replaced some of the framing and piles in 2004. Volunteers sealed under the door and northern window in 2008. In 2104 the Brennan family of Ross and Hokitika anti-rusted and put two coats of paint on the Hut. A number of roofing and cladding nails were replaced with more secure nails, and sealant applied where needed, A rotting roof dwang was replaced. The floorboards at the foot of the northern door stud, and in the SE corner of the open cupboard are damp. The door flashing is not completely effective and a new design needs to be looked at. The pile under the middle of the Hut needs straightening or replacing, but the rest look to be in good shape (the majority were replaced in 2004). The dwang under the end window is a bit dozy from water getting in but was dry when we visited in December 2018. It's possible the sealing work done in 2014 has fixed the problem. The exterior window sills are flaking and the end window sill is past its best-by..


For those wanting a bit more of a challenge there is a great high level route from Mullins basin to Cedar Flat over the Diedrichs Range. Access to the tussock up a small spur on the TL of the basin between two small side-creeks, around E1446823 N5238000 (BV19 468 380). The route passes through a band of patchy alpine scrub, then up the eastern faces of the Range onto a flat area between Jumble Top and Mt. O'Connor. There is a rock cairn and an iron stake just off the crest here, and the flattened remains of the old Jumble Top Biv can be found a short distance below. Continue along the Range past points 1610m and 1612m to a small sharp peak at E1445735/ N5240927 (BV19 457 409) just before Jumble Top. A steep, exposed rocky section on its northern approach can be downclimbed with care (or a rope), or the peak can be bypassed entirely on the Diedrichs Creek side by dropping down a steep scree, and climbing back onto the Range further along via the TR fork of the scree. The detour takes an extra 20 minutes, and from here on travel is straightforward. The detour takes an extra 20 minutes, and from here on travel is straightforward. There is a large tarn with good campsites on the SE side of Squall Peak and an old FS track down to Cedar Flat which can be picked up patchy scrub on the Peak's NW spur at around 1120m (GPS E1447197/ N5242071). Waratahs lead East off Squall Peak down to its top entrance. The track drops through the alpine scrub zone, then veers SE onto an open knoll at 950m. It drops steeply from the knoll through the sub-alpine and rata bands down to the Flat. The route was recut and marked in May and July 2020. A fit experienced party could probably do the trip over to Cedar Flat in 6-7 hours in good conditions. Add an hour or two for the reverse crossing.

Gerhardt Spur Biv can be accessed either by traversing Jumble Top and following Gerhard Spur down, or by dropping from the low point between points 1612 and 1610m, down a scree into the upper TL fork of Diedrichs Creek. Climb from where TR and TL fork intersect more or less directly up the tussock faces onto the Gerhardt Spur, connecting with the Spur around the 1300m contour. The Biv is visible from the top of the Range in fine conditions. Allow around 4-5 hours to reach Gerhardt from Mullins. Ice axes should be carried on these crossings in winter and spring.

The upper TL branch of Mullins Creek is negotiable as far as the waterfall at E1446515/ N5237253 (BV19 465 373). Exit here up the small steep side-creek on the TL of the fall and climb to the 1600m mark on the SE ridge of the low peak of Mt. O'Connor. It is a very easy sidle from here across the basin under the middle and high peaks of O'Connor, then along a conspicuous bench to the low point NW of point 1718m.

Serpentine Hut in the Hokitika can be accessed by dropping off the Range at around E1445682/ N5236537 (BV19 457 365) and heading down the prominent SW running spur below. The top of this descent is very steep and may require ice axes in winter and spring. The spur was once tracked from the scrubline down to the Hut, and although it had an NZFS animal and vegetation survey line superimposed on it in the mid 1980's, it is now unfollowable. A few bits of permolat can still be found here and there, but it's essentially a pure bush-bash down to the River. The bottom portion of the track was cut from Serpentine Hut up to the 450m contour in 2017.

Another option is a traverse Mt. O'Connor and a descent of Serpentine Creek. The Creek's upper basin is easy travel with good campsites. Further down the going is rough with waterfalls that have to be skirted through steep bush. This route has been mentioned three times in the last 32 years in the Serpentine Hut books. Two of the accounts were neutral, the third and most recent (2011) highly scathing of its value as a route. It is around a half an hour's travel from the Creek up to the Hut. The tracked sections from Serpentine Creek to Serpentine Hut were recut in 2015.

The route to the upper TR basin of Mullins Creek is up the main branch to just before the start of a deep, slotted gorge. A rock cairn at a small side-creek on the TR (E1446987/ N5237610 (BV19 470 376)) just below the first big pool in the main Creek marks the exit point. There is some quite thick scrub in here which was cut back a bit in 2008, but has regrown. It's a bit of a grovel in places but preferable to its alternatives. Follow the side-creek taking the TL branch where it forks and becomes quite narrow. It eventually leads to the scrub boundary in the upper basin around E1447123/ N5237324 (BV19 471 373). A number of lines are possible from here through scattered scrub and tussock up onto the northern flanks of Mt. Ross.

Frisco Hut in the Hokitika can be accessed down Mt. Ross's broad SE face as far as a prominent bench at the 1500m contour. An rocky gut provides easy access from the SW end of the bench (around E1447618/ N5234888 (BV19 476 348)) down into the Darby Creek basin. Head up Darby Creek for a bit then turn up the first side creek coming in on the TR, taking the TR branches as it forks, that leads to a short tussock basin and onto the ridge just north of point 1510m. Drop down the SW spur of this peak to an obvious tussock bench with tarns just above the scrubline. Waratahs and the odd bit of permolat lead from the SW corner of this bench down through scattered alpine scrub to the top the scrub faces above the Hut (E1446195/ N5234400 (BV19 462 344)). The toilet and part of the roof should be visible from here. Follow the markers off the edge of the bench down the faces into narrow gut that leads through olearia forest to intersect the Darby Creek track 50m East of the Hut. The tracked portion was recut and marked in March 2018. Allow 5-7 hours for the crossing from Mullins to Frisco.

Darby Creek basin can also be accessed over the col between Mt. Ross and point 1718m on the Diedrichs Range. The faces on the Darby Creek side of the col are eroding and exposed, with some vertical sections that are not visible from above. Your best bet is down a scree that drops diagonally from the lowest point in the Range into the Creek. Climb from the Creek up onto the ridge of the TR of the basin and follow this down to point 1510m. The route from here to Frisco Hut is the same as the Mt. Ross route.

Top Toaroha Hut can be accessed from Mullins Hut via the prominent spur that runs in a dog-leg due North from Mt. Ross to point 1251m. Drop from the flat bench above the 1400m contour of this spur into the North branch of the large unnamed side-creek draining the eastern faces of Mt. Ross. The tussock faces at the top of the descent are steep, but the creek provides nice, albeit steep rocky staircase, with a couple of small waterfalls near the bottom that can be skirted without too much difficulty. There is an excellent two-tier rock bivvy on the TL of the main creek, 100m upstream from where the Top Toaroha track crosses it. The remains of the old Top Toaraoha Hut can be found in olearia scrub just below the rock biv.

Toaroha Saddle Biv can accessed over Mt. Ross. It is a long gentle descent along the crest of the Range to the Saddle. Allow 4-5 hours for the crossing.

Repairs needed

A more effective door flashing is needed. The pile under the middle of the Hut need straightening and the window sills repainted. A check needs to be done in heavy rain to see if the end window needs re-flashing or sealing. The dozy dwang needs replacing. A toilet would be a useful addition, as would a small wood burner, but the hut would need to be lined before the latter was effective. Rob's view was to go all the way down to the floor, fix that properly, and just lift in a new pre-built frame in by chopper. Then clad it like new. He'd like to put the bunks down one wall to space for the woodburner. DOC weren't keen on the woodburner idea due to the hut's low use. I think it would be a fantastic idea.

Provisions on Site

A billy, a small camp oven, a slasher, two can openers, an egg beater, a shovel, a broom, an aluminium bucket, an aluminium basin, a dust pan and brush, and a spare slasher handle. The Brennans left a sealant gun, a new tube of sealant, a hammer, 4 paint brushes, a couple of rollers, 2 new roller sleeves, and an aluminium ladder. Under the Hut are three large tanalised posts, two sheets of corrugated iron, one sheet of flat iron, and a few short lengths of 4x2. Some hunters left a couple of fold-out stools there in 2015.