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Scamper Torrent Hut

Scamper Torrent Hut

(Scamper Torrent Hut: Photo Andrew Buglass 2017)

Maintenance Status

Scamper Torrent Hut and track were designated as fully maintain in DOC's 2004 High-Country review, however its access track was dropped from their maintenance schedule in 2013. Permolat and others were already working on it prior to this, and will continue to keep it open. It is currently in good shape and was last worked on in August 2018. Emma Richardson has carted some paint and gear up to the Hut and intends painting the roof this summer.

Location

Waitaha catchment. Map BW17. Grid Ref: E1416048/ N5219619 (BW17 161 197). Altitude 975m. Scamper Torrent Hut is located in the Scamper Torrent's upper basin in the Waitaha catchment. This is a superb remote setting that can be accessed in a day from the Waitaha roadend by a reasonably fit party. Below the basin Scamper Torrent tumbles in a series of waterfalls through a steep-sided gorge into Whirling Water, one of the Waitaha's larger tributaries. Scamper Torrent Hut has historically been low-use, although the frequency of visits has increased in recent years due to greater exposure in wilderness articles and on this website. It currently gets around 5-10 visits a year.

Access

The access track up to Scamper Torrent basin from Kiwi Flat is volunteer maintained, had its last couple of trims in 2018, and is currently in pretty good order aside from the bottom section which is getting a bit rough and needs re-marking. The track starts up Labyrinth Creek which is 15 minutes downriver from Kiwi Flat Hut, The entrance is 75m up the Creek on the TR and the track climbs steeply initially, then flattens and ascends a sloping bush terrace towards the toe of the hill. It connects with a steep side-spur and follows it to the tussock line. The route crosses the broad spur bounding the TL of Scamper Torrent at point 1125m and drops into the basin. There's a pole just above a tarn, and cruise-tape on scattered scrub leading to the next pole quite a way down. Below this a short section of track leads down through a band of alpine scrub into the basin. It is 10 minute walk from here upriver to the Hut, which is located on a terrace on the TL. Allow 2.5-3 hours from Kiwi Flat Hut to Scamper Torrent Hut, or 6-8 hours from the Waitaha roadend.

Type

Scamper Torrent was the last of the NZFS SF81 four-bunk huts and was built in 1971 at a cost of around $1600. It is lined and has a small roof-fed watertank. There is no toilet and because the Hut is located on a rather small wedge of terrace people seem inclined to crap in close proximity to the Hut rather than venture up or downhill from the site. There is a shovel in the Hut for such purposes - please us it!

Condition

Scamper is in relatively good condition currently. Some of the interior ply lining under the end window is buckled where moisture has gotten in. This maybe historical as it doesn't seem to have worsened over the years and there were no damp spots on the floor below at our last visit. The hut tie-downs are slack, however the Hut is in a pretty sheltered site and they are probably not essential. Scamper Torrent was repainted and had a water tank added by a DOC volunteer party in 2001. The repairs were financed by an unknown donor who was concerned about the state of the Hut after two decades of zero maintenance. In 2014 Martin Clapham fitted a new tap on the water tank and repaired a broken downpipe with cord and tape. Rodents can currently be heard rustling around in the lining, although there was no evidence of any droppings inside the Hut itself. The paint on the roof is starting to flake.

Routes

A good tops crossing is possible to Scamper Torrent over Karnbach and Mt. Ashmore from the Wanganui valley. An old NZFS track, recut in 2017, starts in the head of Tarpot Creek, which crosses the Wanganui valley access road 500m from SH6. Head up the Creek taking the TR branch at each of two forks. The track exits on the TR the Creek where it begins to peter out at 460m(E1408960/ N5219079 (BW17 089 191)), and climbs steeply up a bush face onto a steep side-ridge that connects with Karnback at point 1069m. A waratah with permolat marks the top entrance of the track at E1409621/ N5218930 (BW17 096 189).

Head up Karnbach from the waratah, through a narrow belt of alpine scrub with open patches up onto the sloping tussock benches on the Amethyst Ravine side of Karnbach. Sidle under Mt. Ashmore and reconnect with the main ridge where it drops down to point 1199m. Climb from here up and around point 1411m to point 1502m. Drop from here down the the broad spur on the TL of Scamper Torrent basin to point 1125m where the main access track crosses. Access to the basin can be gained from a number of points further up the spur but it is hit and miss from above due to significant band of alpine scrub.

Another crossing from the Wanganui is possible using the Bryan Hill track that starts at the old dam site in the Amethyst Ravine. This provides access onto Terra Quinn which has some reasonable tarns and good campsites, and from here to Carls Ridge. Some Hari Hari locals retrimmed the track and did a bit of marking around 2014. I did a bit of cruise-taping and marking in September 2019. The track is good in places and reasonable in others. A few bits between Bryan Hill and Pt. 883m are a bit vague and need permolatting. Carls Ridge connects with the Smyth Range at point 1684m and from here you can drop down the broad spur that bounds the TL of the main branch of Scamper Torrent. There are a few snow poles lower down on this route. The Hut should be visible from point 1684m in clear conditions.

A side-track drops from the 730m mark on Terra Quinn track into the upper Amethyst basin. It may be possible to cross from the Amethyst headwaters over point 1502m into Scamper Torrent basin. Access down to the hut would be the same as for the Karnbach Route.

There is a good high-level circuit from Scamper Torrent along the Smyth Range and back down to Kiwi Flat Hut via Headlong Spur. Access onto the Range is up the broad spur on the TR of Scamper Torrent directly opposite the Hut. Two snow poles are visible over on on the TR from the Hut. Head straight up spur from the first pole, ignoring the second which is across a steep-sided scrub filled gut. A band of stunted bog pine just above the first pole has a reasonably good deer trail through it to the open area just above. Continue up the spur to around 1300m, then sidle SE into the basin on the lee side of point 1397m. Continue on a SE diagonal up series of smooth rock ledges to rock gully running below the summit of Mt. Durward. This connects the crest of the Range just East of the summit. Travel from here is relatively easy for around four kilometres. A steep section leading to point 2025 adjacent to the Kea Glacier is generally snow-free from late summer, but may require ice axes at other times.

Sidle from 1920m contour across the Attic and down to Headlong Spur. The track up the Spur was recut and marked to the knoll at 1160m by Permolat volunteers in 2016. The Spur track connects with the Waiatha valley track on the terrace 30 minutes upriver from Kiwi Flat Hut. This section was recut in 2017. Allow three days for the Scamper to Kiwi circuit, with a night camping or bivying out on the Smyth Range.

Moonbeam Hut can be accessed from The Attic by dropping down into the TR fork of the first main side creek on the TL of Moonbeam Torrent. This is a very rough route with some obligatory scrub-bashing, and care needs to be taken. Moonbeam can also be accessed by continuing along the Range past Mts. Neville, Barry and dropping down Clearview Spur. There is one steep exposed section on the Spur between points 1945m and 1690m that requires down-climbing, but below this it is easy going. The Clearview Spur tops track was recut by Permolat in 2015, re-marked to 800m August 2016, and checked in February 2019. It is regrowing in some parts but is well marked. It drops down the narrow spur separating Dorothy Creek and Moonbeam Torrent and is accessed from a dry gut in the head of Dorothy Creek. A track exits the TL of the gut in the alpine scrub zone and sidles up onto the ridge. This is followed down to the Moonbeam Hut door.

County Stream Hut can be accessed by dropping off Clearview Spur down the faces between Canary Creek and the next side creek down. A band of scrub near the bottom can be avoided by dropping into the Canary Creek for the last few hundred metres.

The upper Smyth River can be accessed from the saddle at point 1830m, NE of Mt. Barry (travel gets difficult further along the Range). Once in the upper Smyth it is good travel down to just below the Bradshaw Creek confluence, after which it becomes bouldery and rough. The swingbridge across the Wanganui River just above the Smyth confluence was washed away by a flash flood in 2013. The Smyth Range crossing is for experienced parties with alpine skills. It would be prudent to take a tent and break the trip from Scamper Torrent to Smyth Hut into two days.

It is possible, but not much fun, to drop off the Smyth Range from Mirage Knob. There are few remnants of an old NZFS tops track midway up the spur that leads from the Hunters Hut cableway, but it is non-existant in it's upper section and a difficult scrub-bash is required to get from the open tussock down to where the ridge is better defined. The track can be picked up here, but vanishes again on the bush faces nearer the bottom. The original track entrance is right behind the cableway on the TR of the Wanganui. This route is not recommended for uphill access. In addition, there is no water until the flat section of ridge just south of point 1533m is reached.

Repairs

The Hut needs to be checked out during heavy rain, to see if there are any leaks down by the end window, and these sealed if necessary. Construction of a toilet wouldn't be a bad idea either. The track needs some more permolat, particularly at the bottom end. It could also do with a trim in places on the lower faces and terrace section.

Provisions on Site

An old NZFS food drum, an aluminium wash basin, a large billy, a shovel, a slasher (with spare handle), a broom, a metal bucket, an NZFS First Aid Box (still reasonably well stocked with period items), assorted tins of paint including a large tin of Hut-coloured enamel, 1/2 a dozen medium sized u-bolts, a box of nails (assorted), a roll of permolat, an old oven that used to be attached to the kero cooker (no longer there), a flat file, 1/3 of a tube of sealant, a roll of denzo tape, sugar soap, and a spare louvre pane. Under the Hut there are a few odds and ends of timber, three home-made ladders, a large coil of wire rope, and two waratahs.