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Pell Stream Hut

Pell Stream Hut

(Pell Stream Hut: Photo Brent Smith 2014)

Maintenance Status

Pell Stream Hut is designated as minimal maintenance. DOC Greymouth currently manages the valley. The marked route and track up Pell Stream from the Alfred River is not officially maintained, but has received regular attention from volunteers in recent times. The most recent cutting and marking was done in October 2014 by Brent Smith, Ian Fussell, and Charlie Ledbrook of Permolat. The track was still in good shape at last report in September 2016, with just the odd bit of new windthrow.

Location

Maruia River catchment. Map Lewis Pass BT23. Grid Ref: NZTM E1545456/ N5313947. Altitude 720m. Pell Stream Hut is located on the edge of an open river flat on the TR of Pell Stream. There is an open view of the Mueller Range above and the area is rich in biodiversity. Bird species include whio, kaka, kakariki, and there are also long-tailed bats. Old gold workings are evident in the lower sections of Pell Stream and there are several deep vertical shafts beside the track. The hut is a moderate day’s walk from the roadend, and despite its close proximity to some high-use routes, it only gets around six visits a year.

Access

Those with high axle 4WD and off-road skills can ford the Maruia River and follow the 4WD track up the TL of the Alfred River. Others need to park at the Marble Hill car-park, cross at the nearby sluice box footbridge, and then ford the Alfred River to gain the vehicle track. The Pell Stream track is sign-posted shortly before the 4WD track drops into Pell Stream. An alternative approach to Pell Stream using the Lake Daniels Track can be used for those averse to walking 4WD tracks. Drop off the track at the sign pointing to Pell Stream, cut down a gentle spur, and ford the Alfred River below its confluence with Pell Stream. Those using this route will get to see the surprisingly well-maintained gold miner's hut on the TR of the lower Pell, the future of which is uncertain currently.

The route up the Pell is initially benched, is well-marked, and windfalls have been chainsawed up to and around Gilchrist Creek. From here various detours and sidles enable access up the TL of the Pell valley, if the Stream is too high for river travel. The sidles involve some scrambling and could prove time consuming and arduous for some. The the quickest access when river levels are normal, is up the Stream itself, fording where required. There is a marked route around a gorged section that starts at the large unnamed side creek on the TL at E1542340/ N5313246. Above the gorge travel continues along open, regenerating river flats on the TL for around two kilometres to the Hut. The markers en route are an eclectic mix of permolat, cruise tape, dazzle, blazing, cairns and orange triangles. Allow 5-7 hours for the riverbed route from the Marble Hill carpark at normal river flows. Use of any of the various flood routes will increase the travel time.

Type

Pell Hut is a SF70 design built in May 1961 by G. Coombs and R. Osman of the NZFS in Reefton according to the inscription on the interior cross beam. Although a six-bunk design, Pell has only four bunks with a gun rack and bench filling the space between the bunks. The open fire which smokes a little without the window open. Water is from the Stream nearby and there is a long drop toilet. The Hut is in a shady location and reputedly very cold in winter.

Condition

Pell Stream Hut is in reasonably good condition currently. It was painted inside and out by DOC in 2004, provided with new mattresses, and the bench steel-lined. DOC replaced a cracked window in 2014. Brent and Co. dug out around the base of the Hut in October 2014, and put some sealant around the fireplace. Quite a lot of the paint on the door and window frames is flaking, and the bearer running under the porch is rotting There is a small damp patch on the floor in the back corner of the Hut also. The flashing above the fireplace is retro-installed over the original and is leaking quite badly. It is difficult to make out exactly where the leak is, but it may be where it has been sealed along the wall cladding. The leak is making the Hut pretty damp (there was a sodden mess of rubbish in the fireplace and mouldy mattress covers when Andre Winkelman visited in early spring of 2016)

Routes

For the more experienced there is an untracked route to Cannibal Gorge Hut on the St. James Track over the saddle at the head of Pell Stream. Pell Stream upstream from the Hut is fairly easy travel, with a few waterfalls and bluffs in the subalpine zone that are not too difficult to negotiate. A dry creek 10 minutes upstream from Cannibal Gorge Hut provides access to the saddle from the St. James side.

The tops above the Glenroy River can be accessed up the large side-creek on the TR of Pell Creek a couple of kilometres upstream from the Hut.

Mt. Mueller can be accessed by a number of untracked spurs from Pell Stream. A high circuit of the Freyberg Range can be done using the spur just upstream of the Hut for access. Access to the Range from the Maruia Valley side can be gained by two tracks, neither of which are officially maintained, or marked on the Topo maps anymore. The Mueller Tarn Track is accessed from the layby beside Maruia Springs thermal resort. A ford of the Maruia is required, and cairns and a white triangle mark the beginning of the route at E1544547/ N5308043, 500m downstream from the Resort's thermal pipe. Peter Alspach of Springs Junction has marked from the start to about 900m, mostly with permolat, and a bit of cruise tape. He plans to go back and do more work there this summer.

The NW route onto Mueller should be still reasonably good and starts at a layby a kilometre West of the Waterfall Walk, opposite a "Rest Stop 300m" sign. Head 100 metres up the riverbed and ford the Maruia where it cuts into the bank. A white plastic triangle and red permolat mark the track entrance. The track climbs up onto river terrace at E1538150/ N5310621 and is well marked with red and white permolat. Peter Alspach did some clearing and marking work on the track last summer and intends going and doing some more this one.

Repairs

The window frames and door need painting and the rotten joist replaced. Sealing work is required on the chimney flashing and possibly also at the back corner of the Hut. The next visitor could take up some sealant. A short bit of spouting along the roof edge above the flashing may help divert some of the water from coming in.

Provisions on Site

There is a range of pots and pans, a camp oven, an axe, a saw, and a plastic hearth brush and shovel. Brent and Co. have left some bleach in marked bottles for doing the mattresses.