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Toaroha Saddle Biv

Toaroha Saddle Biv

(Toaroha Saddle Biv: Photo Andrew Buglass 2007)

Maintenance Status

Toaroha Saddle Biv and its access tracks are fully maintained currently.

Location

The Diedrichs Range. Map BV19. Grid Ref: E1450448/ N5234879. Altitude 1200m. Toaroha Biv is located on the crest of the Diedrichs Range just above, and West of Toaroha Saddle. It is on the Frew Saddle - Toaroha Saddle circuit, a 4 - 5 day tramp of moderate difficulty, included in Shaun Barnett's revised edition of Classic Tramps. The Biv is cosy and in good condition with over the Mungo valley to the Main Divide. The Diedrichs and Toaroha Range tops are readily accessible from the Biv and offer a number of interesting high-level trips to other remote locations.

Access

Although a fit person travelling reasonably fast and light could get all the way to Toaroha Biv in 10-11 hours from the Toaroha roadend, most choose to make their first stop at Top Toaroha Hut, 8-10 hours in. From Top Toaroha follow the track across an open peaty area and up the TL of Bannatyne Creek a short distance. Ford to the TR and exit up a steep little side-creek a bit further up. A couple of short sections of track skirt some small waterfalls and lead onto a scree in the side-creek's head. Follow the snow poles from here across a tussock bench and back down into the upper basin of Bannatyne Creek. A short boulderhop follows to where the valley narrows around E1450689/ N5235024 and snow poles lead out of the Creek here up a steep tussock gut on the TL. Follow this up onto the crest of the Range where the Biv is located. The trip up to the Biv from Top Toaroha Hut takes 1.5 - 2 hours and the tracked sections were recut by DOC in January 2013.

Access to Toaroha Biv from the Mungo side is up a steep ridge track on the TR of Beta Creek that turns off from the Mungo valley track half an hour upriver from Poet Hut. Snow poles lead From the bushline up a steep tussock face to the Biv. Allow around 2.5 hours from Poet Hut to the Biv, or 3-4 days from the Hokitika roadend.

Type

Toaroha Saddle Biv was a B142 high-stud design, and the last Biv built in Westland by the NZFS. It was constructed in 1984 to replace an older B55 model, built in 1961. The new Biv cost a mere $2903 to build and the simple design has easily withstood the numerous alpine storms that have barreled across the Saddle in the ensuing decades. There is enough room to walk at a stoop and a small upper and lower bunk at the far end. The Biv is lined with tar paper, rests on wooden blocks rather than piles, and is held in place by wire tie-downs. A couple of small tarns on the Mungo side of the ridge provide drinking water. There is no toilet.

Condition

Toaroha Biv is in good condition currently. It was repainted in March 2013. Water occasionally blows or seeps in under the door and the tie-downs are slack and need tightening.

Routes

The Diedrichs and Toaroha Ranges are easily accessible from the Biv, with some great tops trips possible. A long, relatively gentle ridge leads up to Mt. Ross and provides access to the Mullins and Darby Creek basins. A route down to Mullins Hut starts on the scrub edge in the upper TR basin of Mullins Creek, around E1447205/ 5237440N. A thick band of scrub makes all the other access options into the main basin unattractive, and an impassable slot-gorge in the TR branch prevents access down the Creek itself. A permolat cross marks the start of the route, which is cruise-taped down into a small creek. This is followed down to the main basin, from where it is 10 minutes travel downriver to the Hut.

Frisco Hut can be accessed by sidling West off the Range at the dip just after point 1524m. Follow roughly the 1500m contour through an area of shattered rock onto a flat bench overlooking Darby Creek. A rock gut around E1447605/ N5234895 provides easy access from the end of the bench down into the basin, entering Darby Creek a short distance upstream from the top of the large waterfall. Head up Darby Creek for around 400m, then climb onto the narrow ridge bounding the TR of the basin. Follow this up onto point 1510m and drop down its SW spur onto a sloping tussock bench with tarns around E1446195/ N5234400. Cruise tape and the odd bit of permolat lead from the SW end of the bench through scattered alpine to the top of the scrub faces above Frisco Hut. The toilet and part of the Hut's roof are visible from the drop-off, which is cruise-taped down a small steep gut. The gut opens out further down onto a face with scattered olearia. Continue down through patchy scrub and open areas into a dry water course that is followed down for around 100 vertical metres to intersect the Darby Creek track just east of the Hut. The section down through the scrub is permolatted and there is a wooden sign marked 'tops' on a tree at the bottom junction. Simon Lewis, Mauricio Lloreda and Quentin Duthie recut and marked this route in April 2016. Good weather is essential for the crossing from Toaroha Biv, which takes 4-5 hours. The steeper sections on either side of point 1510m may require ice axes and crampons during the colder months.

There is a direct, but not particularly easy route from Toaroha Biv Mungo Hut via Toaroha Saddle and Topo Creek. There is a steep active scree in the head of Topo Creek and two waterfalls in its lower reaches. Follow the creast of the Range past Toaroha Saddle and up towards Mt. Bannatyne. Drop from the flat bench at E1451662/ N5235060 into the scree at the head of Topo Creek. The Creek is steep all the way down with loose rock in places. The waterfalls are near the bottom, and the top one can be skirted on a narrow scrubby ledge on the TR. The lower one requires a scrub-bash on the TL. Drop into Park Stream and follow it down to the Mungo River. The track to Mungo Hut starts 100m up the Mungo from the Park confluence on the TR. It is a steep 15 minute climb up the ridge from here to the Hut. Allow 2.5 hours for the journey from Toaroha Biv to Mungo Hut.

Top Kokatahi Hut can be accessed by traversing Mt. Bannatyne and Mt. Chamberlain and dropping into the head of the Kokatahi from the col between Chamberlain and point 1810m. The top of Mt. Chamberlain can be sidled around on the Park Stream side and the upper Kokatahi is reasonably easy travel all the way down to Top Kokatahi Hut.

Yeats Ridge Hut and Crystal Biv can be accessed by continuing along the Toaroha Range to point 1694m, then dropping down the prominent spur that runs West from it. The spur forks at the 1300m contour and the NW fork is taken to reach Yeats Hut. There is a permolatted trail down through a scrubby face around the 1150m mark, and intermittent snow poles above and below. The poles continue West from the bottom of the face through patchy scrub and open tussock onto a low ridge bounding Zit Creek. The track follows the ridge down to an open area bordering the shallow basin in which the Hut is located. The odd wooden stake marks the route across the basin and up to the Hut.

Crystal Biv is accessed down the SW fork of the side-spur. The Biv is visible in fine weather from just below the 1300m contour and it is easy travel down to it. There is a bit of scattered scrub to negotiate just above the big tarn next to the Biv. Allow 5-6 hours in good conditions for the traverses from Toaroha Biv to Crystal and Yeats.

Repairs needed

The door needs a flashing to stop water getting into the Biv and the tie downs need tightening. This is particularly important as the Biv is only resting on wooden blocks.

Provisions on site

One NZFS food bin, a kero cooker under the bunk (the top of the feeder bottle leaks apparently), a billy, two buckets (one aluminium and one plastic), an aluminium wash basin, a few nails and bits of permolat, two panes of louvre glass, a broom, an old NZFS first aid kit, some odds and sods of wood, a tin of paint, a tin and a large plastic container of turpentine, and two litres of oil (chainsaw?).