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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 January 2018, with just the odd bit of windthrow.


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 gets around 10 visits a year.


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, 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 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 interesting mix of permolat, cruise-tape, dazzle, blazes, cairns, and orange triangles. Allow 5-7 hours for the riverbed route from the Marble Hill carpark at normal river flows. Use of the various flood routes will increase the travel time accordingly.


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.


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.


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), 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 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.


Nil currently?

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.