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Poet Hut

Poet Hut

(Poet Hut: Brent Smith 2015)

Maintenance Status

Poet Hut and its access tracks are fully maintain currently.

Location

Mungo River catchment. Topo Map BV19. Grid Ref: E1449475/ N5233573. Altitude 580m. Poet Hut is located on the TR of the Mungo River around two kilometres above its confluence with the Hokitika. The Hut is an historic NZFS relic from the late 1950's, small and pokey, but cosy with the fire going. The bush surrounds are montane forest, a mix of rata, kamahi, totara, pahautea (mountain cedar), and broadleaf. Poet Hut is on the Frew Saddle - Toaroha Saddle circuit, a relatively popular tramp of medium difficulty that was recently profiled in the revised edition of Classic Tramps by Shaun Barnett. DOC recut the tracks on the circuit in January 2013. Overnight usage of Poet has dropped since DOC replaced the Bluff swingbridge and shifted and upgraded Bluff Hut. Trampers will often bypass Poet now in favour of either Bluff, or Top Toaroha Hut.

Access

The quickest and most direct way of reaching Poet Hut is up the Toaroha valley and over Toaroha Saddle. This can be done in around 13 hours by a very fit person with a light pack, however two days is a much more sensible time frame. Allow 8-11 hours to Top Toaroha Hut from the Toaroha roadend. The route from here to Toaroha Saddle Biv crosses an open peaty area to Bannatyne Creek and follows its TL a short distance. The track crosses to the TR, then shortly after this, exits up a steep little side-creek on the TR. There are two short sections of track further up that skirt a couple of small waterfalls. The route exits the creek on a scree near its top and snow poles lead across a tussock bench and down into the upper basin of Bannatyne Creek. There is a short boulderhop up to where the valley narrows, around E1450689/ N5235024 and the poles exit up a steep tussock gut on the TL. The gut is followed onto the crest of the Range where the Biv is located, and continue down a steep tussock face to the scrubline on the Mungo side. A well-cut track leads from here down a steep ridge on the TL of the Beta Creek, connecting with the Mungo valley track half an hour upstream from Poet Hut. The track sidles downriver from the turnoff, crossing Beta Creek and continuing along the River terraces. There is a short section of boulderhopping before the last 10 minutes of track to the Hut. Allow 3.5-4.5 hours for the crossing from Top Toaraoha Hut to Poet Hut.

It takes around three days to reach Poet from the Whitcombe end of the circuit via Frew Saddle and the upper Hokitika valley. The track down from Bluff Hut is very steep and parallels the Hokitika River as it plunges over a series of cataracts, 400 vertical metres to the Mungo confluence. The Bluff Swingbridge is crossed to the TR of the Hokitika and continues up the TR of the Mungo to Poet Hut. The route is mostly tracked, with one longish cairned section of riverbed. The tracked sections of the Poet - Bluff route were recut and sprayed by DOC in February 2015. Allow 2 - 2.5 hours to get to Poet Hut from Bluff Hut.

Type

Poet Hut is one of the four B48 4-bunk designs built by the NZFS in Westland in 1957. The B48 was a forerunner of the SF81 design which was to become the standard template around the country. It owed much of its layout to the Department of Internal Affairs huts built in the area earlier in the decade. The original Hut had an open fire and a flat-iron roof, which was later replaced with corrugated iron. NZFS added a toilet and woodshed in 1983, constructed from materials from the dismantled Lower Toaroha and Lower Kokatahi huts. DOC replaced the perspex window with louvres in the 1990's and added a small deck with steps. Water is from the River.

Condition

DOC did some floor repairs, painting, sealing and maintenance work on Poet in the Summer of 2003/ 4, then another major overhaul in February 2015. This was a comprehensive rejig which involved taking the Hut to bits. The back wall rebuilt and all the rotten bits and pieces of the frame and floor replaced. Unfortunately the back wall of the hut is still leaking and DOC have been notified of this.

Routes

The NZFS ceased maintaining the tracks on the TR of the Hokitika below the Bluff bridge in the mid 1970's, and they overgrew and became unfollowable in the following couple of decades. The two Huts on this section, (Frisco and Serpentine) became isolated and were seldom visited, although they both received some maintenance from DOC in 2004. Serpentine became a maintain-by-community project in 2014 and was repiled and painted in 2015. In 2011 the old trackline from Darby Creek up to Frisco Hut was recut and marked by volunteers, and in 2014-15 the gorge sections from Serpentine down to the Whitcombe Junction were recut. The track from Frisco down to Serpentine is almost finished, with about 200 vertical metres on the ridge on the TL of Nogo Creek still to be cut. Completion of this route will provide access from up the Hokitika valley to Poet for the first time in over 30 years.

Frisco Hut can be accessed down the TR from the Bluff swingbridge. Greg Ross flagged the remnants of the old NZFS track on the river terrace in 2015, but at the moment boulderhopping is probably the best option to get down to Darby Creek. The Frisco track entrance is 100m up Darby Creek on the TR and is marked with a white permolat cross. It track passes through a large patch of windthrowup then up a bluffy bank onto the ridge, which is then followed to the 800m contour. This portion was retrimmed and cruise-taped by Greg in 2015. At 800m the trail veers west off the ridge, drops down an old regenerating slip, and begins sidling downvalley across the bush faces. It crosses a series of old regenerating slips with a couple of actively eroding bits that need to be up and down-climbed to maintain the sidle. The entry and exit points on these are marked with a mix of permolat, cruise-tape and cairns. After crossing the slips the track enters the montane forest and sidles in and out of the upper branches of Detour Creek. Aty the end of this section there is a small regenerating slip that leads up onto the bench where the Hut is located. Allow 4-5 hours travel time from Poet Hut to Frisco.

Access to Sir Robert Hut via the Homeward Ridge track commences on the TL of the Mungo 20 minutes upriver from Poet Hut. A swingbridge just downriver from Beta Creek provides access across the Mungo to the track start. Both bridge and ridge track vanished from the topo maps in 2011, about the same time that the track to Bluff Hut from the Hokitika was reopened (the Homeward Ridge route had been used for a decade or so as a detour on the Frew/ Toaroha Saddle circuit after the Bluff Swingbridge was washed out). The prime suspect for the disappearance of a perfectly good track and bridge from the official maps is likely to be DOC who at the time, may have regarded them as a management tool, rather than a depiction of reality. LINZ unfortunately seems to have happily gone along with this.

The track from the swingbridge across the bush terrace to the toe of the Ridge has a bit of windthrow on it that needs skirting. Once on the Ridge it is in surprisingly good shape, although it does need a trim now in a few places. It's a long haul up to the 1440m contour (1449130E/ 5231595N) where it is necessary to drop off the Ridge down a steep East-running side-spur into the Sir Robert Creek catchment. Ices axes and possibly crampons may be necessary on the top section of the descent during the colder months. Follow the side-spur to a flat area at the 1250m mark and drop SE off it into the gut below. The gut goes down through a band of ribbonwood, and at some point becomes a small creek. The creek cascades over some rock steps into a larger side-creek below. This section can be downclimbed without too much difficulty. The larger creek is then followed down a couple of hundred metres to its confluence with Sir Robert Creek. Sir Robert Hut is around 300m upriver from here, up on the riverbank on the TL. A short section of track leads up to it from the Creek. Allow 5-6 hours from Poet Hut to Sir Robert Hut.

It is also possible to get into Sir Robert Creek from lower down Homeward Ridge. The last report I have of this route being used was from the mid-80's however. The dropoff is around the 940m contour (1449957E/ 5232801N) down a steep scree and gut. It is river travel from here up to the Hut with detours through the bush where necessary to get around the gorgy bits. This is a dry-weather route at best, but might be useful if the normal higher-level acces was compromised by snow, ice, or clag.

Access to Mungo Hut from Poet is up the TR of the valley initially. The original NZFS track used to go all way up the TR to the Hut, but maintenance ceased on this from Saddle Creek on, in the early 1970's. The section to the Creek is still fully maintained however, and was re-cut by DOC in January 2013. After this the track drops steeply down to the River, and from here it is mostly boulderhopping, still sticking to the TR, with a few small marked detours. A ford of the Mungo is required at the midway point of the route where the River cuts in against some shingle bluffs. This is not usually problematic at normal flows, however the crossing is is prone to change, and the odd party has had difficulty here. Continue up the TL of the valley to Brunswick Creek which is fast flowing and currently unsafe to cross where it enters the Mungo. A 2-300m section of track was cut up the TL of the Creek in 2012 to a spot where the Creek is more easily fordable.

After crossing the Brunswick drop back down to the Mungo and boulderhop upriver for another 10 minutes. Cross to the TR at the old swingbridge site (removed by DOC in 2011) and continue up the TR until 100m above the Park Stream confluence. A large orange triangle here marks the start of the track up to the Hut. It climbs up a steep narrown ridge for 10-15 minutes and was recut by DOC in January 2013. Allow 2.5 - 3.5 hours from Poet Hut to Mungo Hut.

Repairs Needed

More sealing work on the back wall.

Provisions on Site:

One frypan, two billies, a camp oven, an old first aid kit which still contains some useful items, an aluminium water bucket, two rubbish bins, and a broom.