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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 and DOC Greymouth currently manage the valley. The marked route and track up Pell Stream from the Alfred River is not officially maintained but has been kept usable by volunteers. The over 40's Tramping Club did some major work in 2014, and since then volunteers have given it the odd cursory trim and added markers the most recent being Andre Winkelman in December 2020. Paul Mosley and Ian Wright went in and did some more comprehensive work in January 2021.

Location

Maruia River catchment. Map Lewis Pass BT23. Grid Ref: NZTM E1545456/ N5313947 (BT23 455 139). Altitude 720m. Pell Stream Hut is located on the edge of an open river flat on the TR of Pell Stream. There are views of the Mueller Range and whio, kaka, kakariki, and long-tailed bats can be encountered in the area. 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 5-6 hour walk from the roadend, and received 16 visits in 2020.

Access

A vehicle track that fords the Maruia River and goes up the TL of the Alfred River is only usable by high clearance, short wheelbase 4WD vehicles, and it involves about 500m travel up the Alfred River bed and a steep climb out. Better to walk it, either crossing the Maruia upstream of the Alfred confluence or following the Lake Daniels track via the nearby sluice box footbridge, and fording 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 route in is from the Lake Daniels Track at the sign pointing to Pell Stream. Cut down a gentle spur from the sign 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 benched and well-marked to Gilchrist Creek. The old NZFS track for the next 1.5 km up the TL was tidied up by Andre in December 2020. A double crossing of the Pell is needed to get around a slip just above Gilchrist, and again a few hundred metres further up to get around a high bluff. The entries and exits that lead to and from the stream bed on this section are now well marked and trimmed. The track around a gorged section starts at the large unnamed side creek on the TL at E1542348/ N5313231 (BT23 423 132), sidles under Pt 760m, and drops back to Pell Stream at E1543686/ N 5313611. This section is reasonably well marked, but is getting overgrown with regenerating beech in several places. A new 1.8 km section of track, cut by Ian and Paul in January 2021, leaves the river a few tens of metres further upstream (660m asl) on the TL, and climbs 30m onto a higher terrace, following an old deer trail up to 760m to cross a deeply incised gully. It then sidles and drops back down to the river at E1545259/ N5313884 (700m), about 200m downstream from the hut. There is a good crossing 100m further up, to reach the Hut on the TR bank. Allow for 5-6 hours travel to Pell Hut from the Marble Hill carpark.

Type

Pell Hut is an SF70 design built in May 1961 by G. Coombs and R. Osman of NZFS 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. It has an open fire that 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 good condition currently. It was painted inside and out, provided with new mattresses, and had the bench steel-lined by DOC in 2004. DOC replaced a cracked window in 2014. Brent and Co. dug out around the base of the Hut and put some sealant around the fireplace in 2014. In 2018 Andre and Corina Winkelman resealed the leaky chimney flashing and attached a length of spouting to the roof edge above it to divert water and leaves away. They also cleaned the mattresses and Hut cut back a bit of the surrounding vegetation. DOC, Reefton were there in March 2018 and January 2019 doing maintenance and clearing the vegetation around the Hut, leaving a good stock of firewood. They replaced the lead head roof nails with tech-screws, repainted the roof and outside walls, fixed the sash on the end window, painted the window frames, inserted a new fire surround, and topped the base of the fireplace with new concrete. The Hut now has a broken window pane in the eastern window which someone has taped to hold in place.

Routes

There is an untracked route over the saddle in the TL head of Pell Stream to Cannibal Gorge Hut on the St. James Track. The river section has been impacted by last year’s storms, with a lot of windfall in the streambed. It is still OK travel however, 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 TR branch of the Pell.

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 is via two tracks, neither of which is officially maintained or marked on the Topo maps anymore. The Mueller Tarn Track is accessed by fording the Maruia River at the layby beside Maruia Springs thermal resort. The entrance is 500m downstream from the Resort's thermal pipe (at E1544547/ N5308043 (BT23 445 080)), and is marked with Cairns and a white triangle. Peter Alspach of Springs Junction has marked the track to around 900m with permolat, and a bit of cruise tape, and plans to go back and do more work there this summer.

A second route onto Mt. Mueller starts at the layby one kilometre West of the Waterfall Walk, opposite the "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 the terrace at E1538150/ N5310621 (BT22 382 106) and is well marked with red and white permolat. Peter Alspach did some clearing and marking work on it last summer and intends going and doing some more this one.

Repairs Needed

Andre was unable to make an exact measurement of the broken window pane but someone could take in a piece of glass that is 300 x 400mm along with a glasscutter. DOC Greymouth have been informed. Peter Alspach and his partner hope to go in soon and do further work on the track section upstream from Gilchrist Creek.

Provisions on Site

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