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(Townsend Hut: Photo
Andrew Buglass 2012)
Townsend Hut is a recent maintain-by-community
project taken on by Graham Jackson of Hokitika. He's acquired some funding from the new High Country Consortium
to undertake some minor repairs on it.
The access track will also be maintained by Graham.
Grid Ref: E1499998/ N5263536.
Altitude 1140m. Townsend Hut is located in an old fault scarp near the scrubline on the TL of the
Taramakau valley. There are open tussock patches and small tarns close by, and great
views down the Taramakau from the lip of the scarp.
Townsend Hut was built by the NZFS in the 1960's and maintained
by APNP up until 2007, when DOC Hokitika took over the role.
APNP carried out basic maintenance prior to this, supplimented by one lot of volunteer input in 1995.
Townsend Hut gets up to 20 visits per year, mostly overnighters, but there are also
fairly regular visits by those doing more demanding
tops crossings from the Poulter and Koropuku valleys.
Chamois are regularly encountered on the tops above the Hut, and Kiwi have been seen or heard in the vicinity.
The most direct approach to Townsend Hut is up
Taramakau valley from Aitkens Corner on State Highway 73. Fords of the Otira,
and Taramakau are usually neccessary and make it a weather-dependent option.
One could get all the way up the TL without fording the Taramakau if it were necessary, however
the Otehake, a sizeable River, would still need to be crossed.
From the car park at Aickens Corner follow the markers along the paddock fenceline,
then through a gate to the Otira River. Cross the Otira riverbed on a NE diagonal towards
the end point of bush at the Taramakau Junction.
The River is braided here and fording is usually easy at normal flows.
A flood track down the TR
of the Otira from the Deception Footbridge adds a good hour to the
trip, and was last cut in 2012. The emergency shelter still marked on the Topo map at the Junction
has been washed away some time back.
the marker poles from the Otira junction along the bush fringes on the TL of the Taramakau.
Alternately, head directly NE across the river flats and pick up an old 4WD track further out in the riverbed.
The latter is a tad faster, although both routes merge further upriver.
The Lake Kaurapataka route branches off the trail 100m before Pfeifer Creek and is marked by poles.
The trail continues up the TL of the Taramakau until roughly opposite
Taverners Creek. Ford diagonally here and pick up the
trail on the TR just after Jacksons Creek. Continue up the TR of the Taramakau past the Kiwi Hut turnoff
to Michael Creek, then cross to
the TL of the Taramakau. The route to Townsend Hut starts at the unnamed creek
400m upriver from Michael Creek. The creek has changed course at the bottom and now runs
through the bush downriver from the original creekbed. The lower section of the track has been obliterated
and it's now easier to head up the original creekbed to where it meets running water further up.
The odd large orange triangle on dead spars mark the route from the 450m contour to
where a cut track exits the creek around 500m.
It climbs steeply up the bush faces onto a narrow ridge, and follows this
up a short distance onto a bench the montane zone. From here it ascends in a series of steps through sub-alpine
forest to the
scarp on which the Hut is located. The last stretch along the scarp is through
open tussock patches with small tarns. The tracked sections from the Taramakau valley are in excellent condition and
it takes 4-5 hours for the trip up from the roadend currently.
it is unclear whether the APNP policy prohibiting commercial helicopter flights applies to Townsend Hut.
A clearing has been cleared for landings 20m in front of the Hut, but this may just be for maintenance purposes.
Townsend Hut is
a standard NZFS S81, 4-bunk design, built in 1962.
It was lined and had a small donated roof-fed water tank installed by volunteers in 1995.
Water can also be obtained from the small tarns a short distance down the scarp, and
the tarn at the far end is deep enough to have a dip in.
The end louvre window was replaced by a double-glazed one in 2007. There is no toilet.
Townsend Hut is dry, sound, and in very good condition currently.
It has a sunny north-facing aspect and is raised well above the ground,
making it less prone to snow seepage around the floor plates in winter.
The piles appear to be original and untreated, and are not concreted in. A couple are getting a bit dozy,
and the middle pile on the
eastern side of the Hut has started to lean a bit. The floor at the South end of the Hut is noticeably concave, but still firm
underfoot. The bearers and joists appear to be in excellent condition. The front and roof of the Hut need repainting,
as the paint is beginning to flake. The door and the outside sill of the side window also need repainting. The wood paneling in the door
has gaps in it, which may let a bit of water in during strong wind and rain.
The most popular tops crossing to Townsend is from the Minchin valley via Minchin Pass.
From Minchin Biv
it is a straightforward amble up to Minchin Pass, then up the the ridge on the southern side
of Waterfall Creek basin. It is necessary to traverse points 1461m, 1526m, 1638m and 1731m and drop from point 1731m down towards
point 1183m. Don't drop directly down to
Townsend Hut, which visible from the Divide in fine conditions, as there is a band of alpine scrub on the face just above it.
From point 1183m follow the lip of
the fault scarp down to the Hut. Allow 4-5 hours in good conditions for the crossing from Minchin Biv.
A crossing from the Poulter valley is possible over the unnamed col between Mt. Koeti and point 1686m.
From Poulter Biv follow the upper Poulter River to its head and climb directly to the col.
This is a simple scree climb in late summer and autumn, but during the colder months the snow
near the top of the col gets icy and ice axes are necessary. Drop from the col into the basin under the North face of
and sidle at roughly the 1300m contour to where it is possible to drop directly down to
point 1183m. From here follow the lip of the scarp down to the Hut. Allow 4-5 hours for the crossing in good conditions.
A fairly straightforward tops traverse between
Townsend Hut and Koropuku Hut is described in Frank King's tramping blog:
tramping.typepad.com. Head up the fault scarp to point 1183m
and continue up the NW spur of point 1731m to around the 1350m contour.
Sidle around the North basin of Mt. Koeti at roughly this level. Continue around the North spur of point 1686m into the next basin
and up to the col between points 1681m and 1750m. Drop from here into the head of the Koropuku and follow down the TR
to arounf the 1000m contour. Follow the Stream from here.
The exit up to the Hut is not always
obvious, as the cairns are often washed away. The route goes up a small
overflow stream on the TR that runs into a quiet watercourse
overhung by low trees. You know you've gone too far when the Koropuku begins to drop into the gorge.
Allow 4-5 hours in good conditions for the crossing from Townsend. An iceaxe may be needed on occasions in winter and spring.
An exterior repaint
of Townsend would be top of the maintenance list currently. This would include the door and the louvre window's frame
and sill. The door may also benefit from having the gaps between the panels filled.
Replacement of some of the piles and floor levelling may be necessary further down the track.
Townsend Hut would benefit from having a toilet.
Three billies, one billy lid, a small frypan, two bench seats,
two small tables, an old first-aid kit, a shovel, a small folding pruning saw,
a broom, five spare glass louvre panes and one perspex one,
a wall-mounted map of APNP, and five sheets of wall ply that are wedged between the bunk and the East wall. There is an old
NZFS hutbook dating back to 1982 makes for interesting and informative reading.
Under the Hut there is some spare iron cladding, some timber odds and sodds (including a bit of tongue and groove),
some old sheets of clearlight, a makeshift wooden ladder, and a coil of No. 8 wire.