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Mungo Hut

Mungo Hut

(Mungo Hut: Photo Rob Brown 2015)

Maintenance Status

Mungo Hut is a maintain-by-community project with Rob Brown of Wanaka as signatory. Rob and his friends did a comprehensive makeover on Mungo in December 2015. The project was jointly funded by Back Country Tust and Permolat.

Valley access to Mungo is a mix of river travel and track and is maintained as a "marked route" by DOC. Thee three fords on this route have become unreliable and the DOC maintained tracked section to Saddle Creek was last cut in January 2013 and is overgrowing. In April 2019 a Permolat crew went in and reopened some sections of an old NZFS track up the TR of the valley. This will allow more reliable access up to Mungo without the fords. Two short connecting tracks from the Hut to the upper Mungo and Park Stream are not officially maintained, but have been kept open by volunteers.

Location

Hokitika catchment. Grid Ref: E1453218/ N5234720. Map BV19. 840m altitude. Mungo is a remote Hut in the truest sense, and remained largely unmodified from when it was built in the early 1960's. It is located in a tussock clearing on a low ridge dividing the Mungo and Park catchments. The forest around the Hut site is a beautiful sub-alpine mix of pahautea (mountain cedar), pink pine, toa toa (mountain celery pine), rata, olearia, and nei nei (dracophyllum). The peaks of the Main Divide and Toaroha Range ring the upper valley and there are normally two hot springs half an hour downriver from the Hut, one above and one below Brunswick Stream. The upper and hotter of the two has the River running over it currently. The lower is more reliable but lukewarm and less inspiring. The Hut's visitation rate has been historically low due to its remoteness, averaging 4-5 visits per year. Things got a bit busier after the 2015, but were back down to six by 2018.

Mungo Hut location

Access

Mungo Hut is most commonly accessed from the West Coast side via the Toaroha valley and Toaroha Saddle. Parties coming from Canterbury usually cross the Main Divide from the Wilberforce valley via Hokitika Saddle, or occasionally via Mungo Pass. The main valley route is a fine-weather one and commences at the Toaroha Saddle turn-off a half hour upvally from Poet Hut. The track sidles along the bush faces to Saddle Creek where it drops into the Mungo riverbed. DOC are planning to recut this bit sometime soon. It is river travel from Saddle Creek, staying on the TR for the first kilometre or so. When levels are low the River can be forded and the best line taken. Otherwise continue up the TR where there is a short section of track around a small bluff just below Lead Creek. The bluff can be negotiated at River level if flows are low. Just below the Brunswick a track enters the bush and does a high detour around a small side creek with waterfall. The alternative when levels are low is to ford the River here and continue up the TL crossing the Brunswick and fording back to the TR above Park Stream. The Brunswick is swift flowing and bouldery and is often tricky to cross in its lower reaches. The track up to Mungo Hut is marked by a large orange triangle about 100m up from Park Stream. A steep 15 minute climb takes you up a narrow ridge to the hut-site. Allow 2.5 - 3.5 hours from Poet Hut to Mungo Hut.

If coming via the Toaroha valley there is a direct route to Mungo from Toaroha Saddle Biv via the tops and an old cullers route down the ridge on the TR of Topo Creek which was cut and marked in April 2019. Head East from the Biv down to the Saddle and climb from here up onto a flat area at 1400m just above the TR fork of Topo Creek. Drop ESE from here down a steep section of ridge onto a broader section of spur that bounds Topo Creek. There is a waratah at E1452035/ N5234850, then two more leading down the ridge. The track drops off down a side-spur at the bottom waratah (E1452197/ N5234762) and descends steeply down to where Topo Creek enters Park Stream. Cross the Park and head upstream for 400m to the start of the access track up to Mungo Hut. Allow 2-3 hours for the trip from the Biv to Mungo Hut in good conditions.

The route to Mungo from Hokitika Saddle is down the riverbed. The track start to the Hut from the riverbed is incorrectly marked on the Topo map as starting at a small side-creek. It is in fact further downriver, directly below the Hut, at around E1453255/ N5234540. The track climbs up a steep dry watercourse initially, then flattens and meanders through the scrub to an open boggy area just before the Hut.

Another short, steep track leads up to the Hut from the lower Park Stream, a couple of hundred metres above Topo Creek. Both access tracks get periodic trims by volunteers.

Type

Mungo Hut is an NZFS S81 four-bunk design with open fire, built in 1962. It replaced an older Hut built by Internal Affairs in the 1950's. A toilet was constructed around 1983. A small stream next to the Hut supplies water and firewood can be scrounged from the surrounding patch of montane forest.

Condition

Mungo Hut had its exterior repainted and resealed, some of the framimg and rotten floorboards replaced, and the chimney and fireplace repaired and re-concreted by DOC in 2004. In 2015 Rob's crew replaced two piles, took the roofing iron of and replaced all the old building paper with chicken wire. One skylight replaced and the second replaced with iron for structural reasons. The ridgeline was replaced and new flashing installed over the eastern window. Most of the building paper in the walls was removed and replaced with new thermabar paper. Most of the interior was lined with 12mm ply and sealed with a clear water based coating. The cavities were vented with 10mm holes at top and left unlined at the bottom to avoid moisture build-up. A fair amount of rotten framing was replaced and the cupboard rebuilt completely. The centre rafter was strengthened along with some of the purlins. The bunks were properly strengthened and finished. The Hut was sealed and painted. Some cleats put in the end wall cladding by DOC were removed, the cladding galv sealed and rescrewed with tech screws. The doorstep was excavated and redone in rocks and concrete and the toilet painted. The door handle handle was replaced and door rat-proofed. A new splash back was added in cooking area. A small woodshed was constructed, the helipad and Hut surrounds cleared, and the access tracks down to the river recut. The chimney tends to smokes a bit if the both louvre windows are closed. Not sure if this is a result of the recent modifications around the fireplace.

Routes

The route to Hokitika Saddle begins at the Hut and skirts around the eastern fringes of the bog at the southern end of the Hut clearing. A short section of track leads through the scrub at the end of the bog, down to the River. An easy couple of hours boulderhopping should get you to the base of Hokitika Saddle which has a near-vertical slot leading up to it. This is a difficult approach and a much easier alternative can be found up the large scree (or snow gully in winter) that enters the TL of the Mungo at around E1455908/ N5235847. Head up the scree and exit on the TL about 2/3's of the way up. Climb from here directly onto the Main Divide. The bottom of the scree is quite steep, but the gradient lessens further up, and it is an easy stroll North along the Divide and down to the Saddle. Mt. Ambrose is an easy climb from here, and travel further along to Clarkes Pass and beyond is pretty straightforward.

Access down into Griffiths Stream on the Canterbury side is via the NE spur of point 1850m. The creek directly below the Saddle is also reported to be navigable. Once in Griffiths Stream it is a long, fairly easy plod down to the Unknown - Wilberforce confluence. Urquhart's Hut is an hour's travel up the Wilberforce from the Unknown. Allow 6-8 hours for the crossing from Mungo Hut to Urquhart's Hut in good conditions. Ice axes should be carried during the colder months of the year.

Mungo Pass is accessed from the upper Brunswick Stream, up a small side-creek that enters on the TR, around E1452935/ N5232200. Head up the creek, and exit on the TL up a large obvious scree that leads to the Pass. The faces on the Gibson Stream side of the Pass are steep and eroding, and extreme care is needed when descending. Snow gear including ropes may be needed for Winter and Spring crossings. The Gibson Stream is negotiable down as far as the top of a small gorge at E1456348/ N5231687. Climb out here on the TL is required here up some steep faces and sidle around the back of point 1290m. The route back into the Gibson is down a rib on the TL of the first side-creek downvalley. This is very steep with small bluffs at the bottom that need skirting. Care is needed here also. The rest of the journey down the Gibson to the Unknown Stream is reasonably straightforward. Allow 6-8 hours for the crossing from Mungo Hut to Unknown Stream Hut.

Mt. Bryce is a fairly easy climb from the head of the Brunswick Creek, and in late summer and autumn is mostly scree travel with the odd patch of permanent snow. A rock buttress in the NW approaches to Mt. Bryce makes continued travel along the Divide to Mistake Col more of a technical affair.

A high-level crossing of Brunswick Ridge over to Sir Robert Creek can be done from the upper Brunswick valley. Access from Brunswick Creek onto the Ridge is up an obvious broad spur that comes in at around the 1000m contour. The Ridge is followed to a dip at around E1451902/ N5231267 where it is possible drop off down a steep scree that enters the TR of the large unnamed side-creek below. The top of the scree is very steep and would require ice axes, crampons and possibly a rope during the colder months. The bluffs above the scree are active during the warmer months with occasional rockfalls. The gradient gets more gentle as you get lower down the scree. Follow the side-creek down to Sir Robert Creek and boulderhop upstream from here to Sir Robert Hut. Allow 6-7 hours for the crossing fromm Mungo Hut to Sir Robert Hut.

For those wishing to exit Mungo via the Topo Creek tops track and Toaroha valley, a direct route to Top Toaroha Hut exists that avoids doing the dog-leg around to Toaroha Biv. Simply continue at the 1400m level along the prominent bench South of Mt. Bannantyne and drop into Top Toaroha Basin directly down an open gut that comes out onto the tussock flat adjacent to the Hut.

For the more experienced punters a great high-level traverse exists from Mungo Hut out along the Toaroha Range. There are potential stopovers at a number of remote huts and bivs. The track down into the Park Stream (recut in 2015) starts at the NW end of the Hut clearing and drops steeply down into the catchment. It is an easy walk up the Stream to where a side-creek enters on the TR, around E1452917/ N5236770. The side-creek turn into a rocky gut that can be followed with relative ease up to the low point between Mt. Bannatyne and Mt. Chamberlain. The top of the gut is snow-filled for a lot of the year and can be icy near the top during the colder months. It is recommended that ice axes and crampons be carried for this bit accordingly. There is a short vertical pitch on the Range just South of Mt. Chamberlain can be avoided by sidling around on the Park Stream side, or a small, usually snow-filled basin on the Chamberlain Creek side. The travel from Mt. Chamberlain to Zit Saddle is straightforward. Water needs to be carried however, as there are no tarns on this stretch.

Top Kokatahi Hut can be accessed from the low point between Mt. Chamberlain and point 1694m. Drop down into the head of the Kokatahi, which can be followed without difficulty down to the Hut. This section could possibly be a bit avalanche prone during the colder months. Allow 4-5 hours from Mungo Hut to Top Kokatahi in good conditions.

Yeats Ridge Hut and Crystal Biv can be accessed down the prominent spur that runs West from point 1694m. The spur forks at the 1300m contour and the NW branch is taken for Yeats Hut. There are a few waratahs and stakes (the top waratah is at E1449761/ N5238689) leading to a cut and marked trail down a scrubby face. Poles lead North from the bottom of this section through scattered scrub onto a low ridge bounding Zit Creek. A section of track runs slong the ridge to an open slope above the basin in which the Hut is located. Wooden stakes lead across the basin and up to the Hut. Allow 5-6 hours in good conditions for this crossing.

Crystal Biv is accessed down the SW fork of the spur and is visible in fine weather from the 1200m contour. It is easy travel down to the Biv with a bit of scattered scrub that can be negotiated by veering north around the fringes of the big tarn. Allow 5-6 hours from Mungo Hut to Crystal Biv in good conditions.

Adventure Biv can be accessed by continuing along the Toaroha Range. There is a narrow section of ridge just before Zit Saddle that needs to be sidled on the Kokatahi side. The slopes are steep here and care is required in wet or icy conditions. Recently, and with the increased popularity of this traverse, a few parties have found this bit too exposed for comfort. It shouldn't be a problem for those confident with heights, but take a rope if you are unsure. Continue past Zit Saddle to where the poled route from Top Kokatahi Hut crosses over and drops down a steep tussock face onto a narrow rib on the Toaroha side. A short tracked section leads from the bottom of the rib through a band of scrub into the creek bed of the TR branch. Cross the creek and follow a rough trail that sidles through scattered scrub over to Adventure Ridge. A short section of track leads down the ridge through the alpine scrub to the Biv. Don't make the mistake of dropping directly from Zit Saddle into Zit Creek unless you have a rope and a spare day up your sleeve. Allow 7-9 hours for the traverse from Mungo Hut to Adventure Biv.

Repairs needed

The rest of the Hut's piles are pretty good but some will reach the end of their life in the next 10 years. Rob didn't do the foyer side in the south western corner and the stud here is soft and will need replacing at some stage. More 3x2 framing will be required for this. The gable above the door will need a bit of strengthening at some stage. There is spare paint above foyer if anyone feels like giving a second coat to woodshed, or do any touching-up.

Provisions on Site

The Hut has a spade, a shovel, a spare shovel head, a cast iron frypan, a camp oven, 2 buckets, a bow saw, 4 billies, a small library, a small seat, a hammer, an aluminium basin, a hearth shovel and hand broom, a broom, an axe, a few nails and permolat, and some spare louvre panes.