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(Newton Creek Hut: Photo Brent Smith 2012)
Newton Creek Hut
and its access tracks and routes are designated as fully maintain.
The tracks are in good shape, but the Hut had become very run-down with a fairly serious
rat infestation. With DOC's support and some Consortium and Permolat funding, Rob Brown of Permolat
put a team together
and did some major maintenance in February 2017. DOC would probably like to pass the
access tracks on to the volunteer sector also, however have agreed for the time being to continue to maintain them.
Arahura catchment. Map BV19. Grid Ref: E1467495/
N5255620. Altitude 725m. Newton Creek Hut
is located at the lower end of the Newton Creek basin, one of the
bigger side-catchments in the Arahura valley. The Creek drops steeply from the basin in a series of cataracts
down to the main River. The basin is narrow and shady and is ringed by the peaks of the
Campbell and Tara Tama ranges. The
Hut is a reasonably popular stopover on the Newton Saddle circuit which
links the Arahura and
Taipo valleys, getting 10-20 visits per year currently.
Newton Creek is untracked upstream of the Hut and is rough and bouldery initially.
Above the bushline the valley opens out into fairly gentle tussock expanses, which provide good
tops access to several other remote huts and bivs in the area.
During the 1980's and 90's Newton Creek Hut received
minimal attention from DOC, but was kept
clean and well provisioned by Alan Reith, a blue duck enthusiast from Hokitika.
In 2004 the Hut was stripped of its NZFS provisions and some of Allan's gear
in a DOC purge aimed at, "encouraging
greater self-sufficiency in the high-country." An interesting
and quite comprehensive hut library was removed in the process.
A concerned member of the tramping fraternity who was passing by rescued a camp oven and some billies
from a slingload of "rubbish" destined for the Hokitika Dump, and stowed them back in the Hut.
The Arahura valley and Newton Creek tracks were recut by DOC in 2015 and are in
good condition currently.
The track from
Lower Arahura Hut follows an old dozer trail for 20 minutes to a large unnamed side-creek, and heads up
this for 10 minutes or so to connect with the old Browning Pass bench track.
This is followed for around an hour and a half as it climb/ sidles at
a gentle gradient along the bush faces of the Arahura. The Newton Creek turnoff is marked
by a routered sign, a short distance before
Third Gorge Creek. The Newton track
drops steeply down to the River here and crosses a swingbridge to the TR. The River
is followed for around 10 minutes to the main track entrance, a short
distance downstream from a small side-creek with a conspicuous waterfall,
opposite Third Gorge Creek.
The track follows the TR of
creek a short distance, then veers North and climbs steeply up the bush faces for 45 minutes,
levelling at the 700m contour, and crossing a low ridge into Newton Creek Basin.
It is 15 minutes walk from here up the TL of Newton Creek to the Hut.
Allow around 3-4 hours for the journey from
Lower Arahura Hut to Newton Creek Hut, or 7-8 hours from the Arahura roadend.
For those accessing Newton Creek Hut downriver from Mudflats Hut there are a couple of options.
An old NZFS track on the TR of the Third Gorge has been
recut in a rudimentary fashion by DOC as a stoatline, however the benched and
slightly longer main valley track on the TL is probably quicker and
more user-friendly. Allow two hours for the journey from Mudflats to Newton.
Access to Newton Creek from the Taipo valley is via Newton Saddle
and Dunns Hut. The route goes up the TR branch
of Dunns Creek and is tracked around the rougher, more bouldery bits. Snow-poles mark the route above the scrubline.
The tracked were recut and poled sections maintained in 2015. The 700m descent on the Newton Creek side is down a dry gut initially. This becomes
a small creek further down.
Big variations in the travel times for the crossing can be seen in both hutbooks, reflecting
the wide range in fitness and experience of those doing it, and the greatly differing weather and snow
conditions that can be encountered. An average time in good conditions commensurate with other track times on this site would be 4-6 hours.
Newton Creek Hut is a standard NZFS S81, 4-bunk design. It was built in 1962 to replace
an older Internal Affairs hut already on the site. Newton had an open fire initially,
and this was removed in the late 1970's and replaced with a wood burner. The Hut interior was lined at some point.
Water is from the Creek, and there is a toilet.
The Hut site is fairly shady, and damp, and doesn't get much sun in the winter. Finding dry firewood can be an issue and
folk don't always replace what they use. It can take a bit of time and energy fossicking dead standing wood from
the bush surrounds, or the odd bit of driftwood
from the creekbed.
Newton Creek Hut was repainted inside and out and resealed,
by DOC in 2004. A fairly severe rat infestation developed around 2012, with the animals chewing
their way in at several key locations. The smell
in the Hut could get quite overpowering with rat shit often accumulating in thick pockets.
The situation seemed to have had a flow-on effect on the human visitors,
who began to leave their own trash behind.
A fair amount of the framing, floor abutting the walls, and some of the sub floor framing and piles, was rotting, and
holes had developed. The roof and woodshed also needed replacing. Rob and his crew, Eric Saggers,
Peter Mortlock, and
John Charles, effectively did a rebuild, stripping the
Hut back to its frame and rebuilding and relining it (see www.facebook.
com/groups/permolat February 23, or
The work was done to a higher weatherproofing standard than the original build and subsequent repairs. Malthoid was used as
a moisture barrier between piles, floor and bottom plates, and corner flashings added. Some new piles were added to increase strength.
The team were working against the weather however, and didn't get the roof painting finished, or the flue back in.
DOC kindly went in and finished the work in March. The woodburner's hearth was poured directly onto the floor way back when DOC installed it. This leaves the
floor beneath permanently damp, and unable to dry out properly. Over
time it will slowly rot out, and will need attending to longer-term. A new woodshed was constructed by the work crew. I
cleaned up the toi toi on the track sections in the basin.
Dunns Saddle lies only a kilometre North of Newton Saddle, but is not a particularly practical alternative as a crossing.
The approach from
the Dunns side up the TL branch of the Creek is fairly easy (with some
avalanche risk from the Tara Tama side after heavy snowfalls), but
the Newton Creek side
is very steep and bluffy with access up or down a single steep rock gut.
Travel down Newton Creek from here is through untracked sub-alpine and montane forest.
A cascade with large boulders just upstream of the Newton Saddle turnoff can be skirted on the TR.
Those who want to have a look at Dunns Saddle can access it directly from the Dunns side
and then do an easy traverse Mt. Eidelweiss back over to Newton Saddle.
This wouldn't add that much extra time to the standard crossing.
A number of high-level routes are
possible from the head of Newton Creek via the Tara Tama Range.
The bouldery section of the Creek just upstream from the
Hut can be skirted through
the bush on the TR.
Further up it is mostly boulderhopping with the odd detour into the scrub to
reach the open tussock in the headwaters.
Biv can be accessed over Mt. Olson via a normally dry rock gut that
enters Newton Creek around the 820m contour. There is band of bluffs above the gut
that must be negotiated to gain access to the summit of Olson.
The ridge dividing the
Olderog and Wainihinihi catchments below point 1566m it is
difficult and unpleasant travel with some exposed, vertical sections.
It is easier and safer to drop down the gut from the col between
Mt. Olson and point 1566m into the head of Olderog Creek.
Travel down Olderog Creek is straightforward with a couple
of small cascades to skirt further down. Exit the main Creek up a side-creek
that comes in at E1464688/ N5257080. Climb to around the 1240m contour and
sidle out of the side-creek over to the bench where the Biv is located. Allow 6-7 hours for the
crossing from Newton Hut to Top Olderog Biv.
Creek Hut via the Tara Tama Range, which is accessed from the head of Newton Creek basin.
The drop-off point into Griffin Creek is at an unnamed saddle marked by a cairn on top of a large boulder,
200m South of Scottys Saddle. The descent is down an old scree into
the creek catchment below.
A waterfall further down the creek is skirted by means of a short section of track
through the alpine scrub on its TR. Below this the creek is steep with large boulders and small cascades and
reasonable degree of agility and sure-footedness is required on this section.
The gradient lessens and the going becomes easier as you get further down. The Rocky
Creek track crosses the creek 400m above its confluence with the Giffin. Follow the track
down the TL of the creek down to where it intersects the main valley track.
Griffin Creek Hut is around 15 minutes upriver from here.
Scottys Biv can also be accessed along the crest of the Tara Tama Range as far as
Scottys Saddle. It is a 20 minute descent from here in an ESE direction down a series of tussock tussock with shattered
rock outcrops. The Biv is clearly visible in good weather from point 1516m onwards.
There used to be an old
NZFS track on the TR of the Arahura from Olderog to Newton Creek. It followed a series of side creeks that run parallel to,
and above the main valley known as The Trench. The has not been maintained
for a good 40 or more years and its current staus or usefulness as a route is unknown. It would at the least be very overgrown,
if followable at all.
The turnoff to The Trench at the Olderog end is around the 675m contour on the
Lower Olderog Biv track. It
is marked with permolat and drops down to a river flat in the mid-Olderog.
Glenn Johnston recently checked out the Newton Creek end of the track and said that it was dense mountain holly.
Reopening The Trench as a route
would create an interesting link between Newton Creek Hut and Lower Olderog Biv. There
have been mutterings in the Permolat Group about doing this, but it's a very low priority.
An axe, a handsaw, a camp oven, a stainless steel bucket,
two billies, two hand brushes and a broom. There are 2 metal food
storage drums. Three 'Departure Lounge' vermin bait stations.
Two are underneath the south east end of the hut. One inside under a bunk, plus
spare rat poison in a box. You need a screw driver or plastic 'key' to
pop the top off these so that you can check the bait and reload if necessary. Two ladders have been left at the Hut.