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Top Waitahu Biv

Top Waitahu Biv

(Top Waitahu Biv: Photo Glenn Johnston)

Maintenance Status

Top Waitahu Biv is designated as minimal maintenance. There are no cut tracks or marked routes to it.

Location

Waitahu River catchment. Map: Springs Junction BT22. Grid Ref: NZTM E1526378/ N5327146. Altitude 1260m. Waitahu Biv is located in the head of the Waitahu valley, which is a tributary of the Inangahua River. The Biv is is slightly further down the creek than marked on the topo 50 map, and below the bush-line. DOC warn of a low-risk of avalanche after heavy snowfalls, however the Biv doesn't appear to have been hit by anything large and cold since it was built in 1968.

Access

Most of the visits to Top Waitahu are fly-ins to hunt Chamois, although fit parties can make it here in a day from the roadend. The most direct route is up Lake Stream from SH77, several kilometres West of Rahu Saddle. The start of the track up Lake Stream is sign-posted and parking is available several hundred metres up the road next to a passing bay. The track is usually well marked and maintained, although at last report had a fair bit of snow damage from the winter of 2012. Allow around three hours to reach Lake Stream Biv, after which the Stream is followed to the head of the valley. Climb out and onto the ridge East of point 1568m. A traverse of Ivess Peak would probably require some technical climbing skills and gear, so the usual option is to follow the ridge a short distance north of point 1568m then drop down the spur on the TL of the large tarn. From the tarn's outlet on the 1300m contour drop down to the bushline above Shaw Stream and sidle upvalley through sub-alpine scrub and speargrass under the large bluffs below Ivess Peak. Aim for the headwaters of Shaw Stream between the 1200 and 1300m contours, then follow the creek up to the saddle between points 1730m and 1620m. With good visibility the Biv can be seen from here and a line through the speargrass and sub-alpine scrub found to it.

Type

Top Waitahu Biv is a two-bunk design built in 1968 and is unique in having a small enclosed wood burner. This provides ample and efficient cooking and heating. Water is from a stream closeby. There is no toilet.

Condition

Top Waitahu Biv was in excellent condition at last report. It received an upgrade in 2004, including repainting and new mattresses.

Routes

It is possible for a fit party to access Top Waitahu Biv in a day up the Waitahu River from Montgomerie Hut. Head up the Waitahu river flats, crossing and recrossing where necessary. The TR terrace can be traversed to cut the corner before the confluence with Shaw Stream. Above Shaw Stream the River is really attractive and lovely travel. Continue to zig-zag between respective river terraces, using the TL to sidle around a steeper section of River above point 557m. The valley widens significantly just before the River veers SE to its headwaters. The last section is steep initially, but widens out on the TR, where travel is comfortable. Some large clearings visible on the topo map provide good camping below the bushline. The valley continues to narrow, but travel remains straightforward. It is probably best to follow the creek leading directly up to the Biv. A tempting looking spur to the bushline requires a bash/ sidle westward through alpine scrub to reach the Biv. Be prepared for a long day, nine hours plus, from Montgomerie Hut to the Biv.

Repairs

None evident at last report.

Provisions on Site

A range of pots and pans, a large ammunition drum for food storage and seating, a steel ash bucket, a saw, and an axe. There are two bags of coal under the bunk flown in by DOC in 2006.