Newton Creek hut Dec 2011 • By glennj. Licence: C.


Travel east along the Arahura Pack track heading towards Third Gorge Creek. 5 minutes before this creek, watch out for markings indicating a recently cut track, by a member of Permolat, leading directly down the spur to the Arahura swingbridge. As of January, 2009 the start of this track was marked with blue plastic ribbon beside a DoC stoat trap box. I've added silver tape to 2 trees to help mark the start as the blue ribbon may be mistaken for some DoC trapping program paraphenalia. This section should take about 20 minutes to drop 150m. Previous route descriptions have the route to the swingbridge going via Third Gorge Creek but it is almost completely overgrown, very unpleasant in the rain and unnecessary with this new track established.

Cross the swingbridge which is in good order. There are cables and chains on the approach rocks to provide extra security. Travel upstream for 200m until you are 40m downriver from a small stream with a waterfall. The track entrance is currently marked with permolat crosses and pink and orange plastic ribbons tied to koromiko (hebe). The entrance has been extensively cut open by Frank King in January 2009 and the permolat crosses resited by Honora Renwick as the trees they were nailed to had fallen down. Comments in the hut books over the decades indicated that the start of this track was repeatedly missed.

The track initially approaches and follows close to the true right of the little stream. This section is currently often completely overgrown or obstructed by fallen pole regrowth from heavy snow fall so it is slow going and vague in places. After about 10 minutes, the track veers north away from the creek and zig zags up the face to the ridge. Currently it often requires concentration to follow as the track is frequently obstructed by windfalls. The track is permolatted but in some places they are missing. Comments in the hutbook indicated that most parties are experiencing being unable to follow the track. As long as you scout out from the last established marker, you will be able to find the track as signs will be present. It's best to focus on ensuring you are following some established firm foot trail.

At the ridge, the track gradient flattens out and windfalls cease so it is easy to follow to its descent section into the basin. The descending track into the basin where the hut sits, is very overgrown with broom obstructing the track which is already narrow with flax plants. At the bottom cross a stream about a metre wide and then begin the process of intuiting where the track runs in the basin. In this first section, there are no markers aside from 3 bits of string I have placed and one permolat I found wrapped around a twig! You will need to be attentive to follow the track. It does not run close to the creek as it is more like 50m distant on the true left bank of Newton Creek.

The last 5 minutes to the hut is mostly cut track with the odd uncut section obscured by scrub. It took us 4 hours each to recut this section in an attempt to restore it to its former 6 foot width. Frank found about 2 permolats only in this section of large trees. We are at a loss to explain the lack of markers on this track. Normally there will be some attempt by trampers to mark the track e.g. insulation tape. Our recut should keep this section of the track good for another 3 years or so. Our usual practice is to cut to a standard where the track will keep clear for 5 years but we ran out of good weather. The native broom grows very quickly and obstructs the track rapidly.

The hut is in a beautiful grassy clearing and has a recently installed woodstove. Currently the roof has no leaks and the floor is in good order save for a rat hole by the food cupboard that I have blocked with a tin lid. Blue ducks are nearby. Can people who visit also contribute to maintaining the track with additional marking and cutting until DoC can do it properly as they will be very busy tackling all the windfalls on tracks on the West Coast for some time. There was a blue duck enthusiast enscounced in the hut for a few decades but there is no positive correlation for his occupancy and favourable comments in the hut book on the condition of the track. Comments only became positive after DoC had done track work there. Warren Chinn repainted the hut roof during this era but DoC have also done some repainting since. More is needed around the door as the paint is flaking there.