By Quentin, 09 February 2007
You will be aware of VUWTC's tradition of hut-bagging, well here's a brief trip report on just how addicted one can become. You have been warned.
On the way out from a recent Lake Sumner Forest Park tramp with Christchurch friends Simon and Mauricio (of Permolat www.remotehuts.co.nz), I convinced them that we should attempt to bag Woolshed Hut* on the other side of the Hurunui river from the Lake Sumner road. It is visible from the road, and is on the Parkmap and M33 topo sheet. All I knew was that is was old (historic), had disappeared off DOC's radar (i.e. the Recreation Opportunities Review had mentioned ceasing maintenance on the track to it, but didn't mention a status or future of the hut), the bridge to it was long gone, and the track from the bridge to the hut probably non-existent. From the road it looked very dilapidated, like some of the wall was missing.
The best looking ford of the river we could find was about 1km downstream of hut. The ford was OK (it is a surprisingly big river) and so was the initial rock-hop, often in the water to avoid the gorse. A bluff meant pushing through gorse (ouch, and we were all in shorts!), but once in the patchy mountain beech it wasn't too bad. Indeed some foot/animal trails were found and led to the hut. It took nearly an hour.
Of course it was worth it for a classic bag: a genuine historic hut with mud walls boxed with manuka poles and open ends. I have no idea what it was build for, or when. Nathan and Terry (whoever they are) have made it their private fishing/hunting base and left it all equipped with two camp stretchers, food and gear. No one else seems to visit (at least since N & T installed a logbook last year) despite it being visible from the road.
But it was not over yet. To avoid the messy gorse, on the way back we went up the old but followable track upstream to the old bridge site looking for a ford to take us back across. Alas, we got 1km upstream without finding one and ended up crashing through as much gorse to get there. Attempted one but when the water reached the rib-cage and was still getting deeper, we pulled back. So, back downstream through all the gorse again to the original ford... To top it off Simon got stung twice by wasps while we were in the beech avoiding gorse... and he was the 'non-hut-bagger' among us! (although he does bag vertical metres!)
Needless to say, we were laughing at ourselves by the end - it took 3 hours all up. But it was worth it, and constitutes another tick on my hut list. I'll try and post a photo on here in due course.
If you are also addicted, a few gems I've got to this summer and I thoroughly recommend are: McCormacks Hut, Westland NP; Robin Saddle Hut, Fiordland NP; Pyke Camp Buildings, Mt Aspiring NP; Spoon Hut, Mt Aspiring NP; The Dog Box Biv and Beech Hut, Eyre Mountains CP; Hideaway Biv, Ruataniwha CP.
* Not to be confused with the new Woolshed Creek Hut at Mt Somers.