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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. The Hut remains fully maintain, but the track was dropped from the maintenance regime around 2013. Permolat members 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 March 2016.

Location

Waitaha catchment. Map BW17. Grid Ref: E1416408/ N5219654. 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 and the Waitaha River. Scamper Torrent Hut has historically been low-use, although the frequency of visits has increased in recent years, probably due to its exposure in Wilderness Magazine and on this website. It currently gets around five visits per year, although it had already clocked up a half dozen by March of this year.

Access

The access track up to Scamper Torrent basin from Kiwi Flat hasn't received any official maintenance for some years and is reliant now on volunteer input to keep it open. It had its last couple of trims in March 2016 and is currently in pretty good order, although the bottom section is getting a bit rough, and needs re-marking. The sections of the route from point 1125m down into Scamper torrent basin have been cruise-taped in the open areas and cut and marked through the alpine scrub band. The track starts on the TR of Labyrinth Creek, 15 minutes downriver from Kiwi Flat Hut, The entrance is 75m up from the Creek's confluence with the Waitaha. The track climbs steeply out of the Creek, then flattens and ascend a sloping bush terrace towards the toe of the hill. It connects with a steep side-spur here and follows this directly to the tussock line onto a broad ridge bounding the TL of Scamper Torrent basin. The route crosses over point 1125m and drops immediately down into the basin. There's a pole just above a tarn, with cruise-tape on scattered scrub leading to the next pole, quite a ways down. Below this a short section of track leads down through a band of alpine scrub to the floor of 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 6-7 hours from the Waitaha roadend.

Type

Scamper Torrent was the last of the NZFS SF81 four bunk designs, built in 1971 at a cost of around $1600. It is lined and has a small roof-fed watertank that was installed in 2001. There is no toilet, and because the Hut is located on a rather small wedge of terrace people seem inclined to crap in the tussock in close proximity to the Hut, rather than venture through the wet tussock up or downhill from the site. There is a shovel in the Hut folks!

Condition

Scamper is in relatively good condition currently. Some of the interior plywood lining under the end window is buckled where moisture has gotten in, although this maybe historical as it hasn't worsened over the years and there are no recent damp spots on the floor below. The 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 roof could do with repainting. 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. The downpipe was broken and patched 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.

Routes

A good tops crossing is possible to Scamper Torrent over Karnbach and Mt. Ashmore from the Wanganui valley. An old NZFS track goes up 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 in its head (471551E/ 5221708S) and climbs steeply up a bush face onto a steep side-ridge that connects with Karnback at point 1069m. The track was recut and marked in June 2017.

A waratah with permolat stands on the crest of Karnbach where the track emerges from the alpine scrub (472221E/ 5221535S). Head up Karnbach from the waratah, through a narrow belt of alpine scrub with open patches, up an incline onto the sloping tussock benches on the Amethyst Ravine side of the spur. 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. Access to the basin can be gained from a number of points on the spur, although the bit directly above the Hut is not good due to a significant band of alpine scrub.

A second crossing from the Wanganui is possible using the Bryan Hill track behind the old Amethyst powerhouse. This provides access onto Terra Quinn, which has some big tarns and good campsites, and from here to Carl's Ridge. Some of the Hari Hari locals reportedly trimmed the track several years back. Some steep sections higher on the Carl's Ridge have provoked a few negative comments in the Scamper Hutbook. The 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 on, in clear conditions.

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

A high-level crossing of the Smyth Range provides access from Scamper Torrent to Kiwi Flat Hut via Headlong Spur. Access onto the Range is up the broad spur on the TR of Scamper Torrent, from directly opposite the Hut. There are two snow poles on the TR visible from the Hut. Head straight up spur from the first pole. Don't bother aiming for the second as there is a steep-sided scrub filled gut between them. A band of stunted bog pine just above the first pole has a reasonably good deer trail through it that gets you up onto the open area just above. Head up the spur to around 1300m, and 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 that runs under Mt. Durward. and connects the crest of the Range just East of the summit. Travel along the Range is easy from here with numerous good campsites. 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.

From anywhere above 1920m a sidle can be made across the Attic and down to Headlong Spur. The track up the Spur recut and marked to the knoll at 1160m by Permolat volunteers in 2016. The Spur track connects with the Waiatha valley track on a terrace 30 minutes upriver from Kiwi Flat Hut. From here to the Hut was recut in 2015. Allow three days for the Scamper to Kiwi circuit, including a night camping or bivying out at the top of Headlong Spur.

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, and is in good shape. 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 creekbed for the last few hundred metres.

The upper Smyth River can be accessed from the saddle at point 1830m, NE of Mt. Barry (further along the Range in gets pretty gnarly). Once in the upper Smyth it is good travel down to just below the Bradshaw 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 crossings are for experienced parties with alpine skills. Allow a very long day in good conditions to get from Scamper Torrent to Smyth Hut, or better still, take a tent and break the trip 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. The track 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 canm 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 roof could do with a paint. It 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 good 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.