BLUE MOUNTAIN STATION 16th & 17th January
A combined Methven & Districts and South Canterbury Tramping Club trip. Lousie could not have packed any more enjoyable elements into our trip, except maybe clear skies so reveal the amazing views I know that district exposes; including a good view of the south face of Mt Peel. Even then we had better weather than the folk back home. There is something to be said for the romanticism of lurking around the lofty tops like ‘gorillas in the mist’. Thank you very much Louise for a wonderful and very memorable trip. Getting to know our South Canterbury equivalents left us feeling like another combined trip would be a welcomed event. A significant number of us were limping along with leg & body injuries of varying degrees (myself included), and someone could be forgiven for thinking we were a recovery walking group from a ward at a local hospital.
We congregated at the Monument on Clayton Road at 7:30pm Friday; twelve members from each club. We drove up the valley,crossing the bridge in the upper reaches of the Orari River, where the Phantom and Hewson Rivers flow into it. This takes us onto Blue Mountain Station. The Orari River then makes a right hand hair pin bend and flows east. From the bridge we drove for approx. 12kms to a hut situated in Basin Stream, which Louise and her husband Ian have recently restored. It is a substantial hut, with two generous rooms, and looked like ‘little house on the prairie’. Louise gave us a talk on the restoration process. A willow lined stream flowed nearby; it was very picturesque. This was our base for the weekend. Basin Stream Hut had 10 bunks. Sleeping
arrangements were a mixture of hut, tent or vehicle. The dining room was a cosy fit for 22 bodies, so it was just as well we did not have the rain, and were able to enjoy a shared dinner on Saturday night around a camp fire. Louise cooked delicious venison steaks to perfection on the hot plate.
Saturday morning we set off in two grpou[ps up Hat Spur, where a total of 4 wild deer were sighted, including a young fawn. We continued ton to Hat Hut, where a sleeping possum made a hasty departure. It is a stone 4 bunk Boundary Keepers Hut, built in 1867 by Jim Bradford for the Tripp family of Orari Gorge Station. We had to wonder at the stoic nature of the Boundary Keeper, as we could not see any water supply within 45-
9:00am Sunday we drove up Bernard Stream; the valley at the back of the Edith Hut ridgeline, where we parked our vehicles and hiked 30mins to the 4 bunk, Corrugated Iron Hut, built in 1868. A Falcon was flying up ahead of us. A group of hut enthusiasts from Timaru are currently restoring the Corrugated Iron Hut. At least this one had a stream nearby! Back down the valley and over the bridge to Lochaber Road. We drove 2kms before driving back through the Orari River to travel up the Totara Stream valley, where we parked our vehicles and it was back to Shanks Pony for another half hour hike. Our destination was Totara Stream Hut; a 2 bunk stone Boundary Keepers Hut built in 1868. A stream flowed just down the bank from the hut. We crammed inside for a ‘group photo’ opportunity. All four of the stone huts visited had corrugated iron roofs; which gives testimony to the endurance of the building material. We were very impressed with the quality of stone mason’s workmanship, including how square the
stone corners were. Jim Bradford also built Sutherland’s Hut in Mowbray River. Blue Mountain Station sports the most historic stone huts on any one property. You may also be interested to know Jim was also involved in building the stone building at the Hakatere intersection. When Jesson Davis crawled into the Hakatere stone building in a snowstorm in 1862, Jim Bradford and W Allen rubbed Davis’s legs in an attempt to regain circulation. When Jesson’s boots and socks were cut off, the flesh came away with the socks, showing the bones.
On a brighter note; we concluded our joint venture by enjoying a warm cup of coffee and eats at The Farm Barn Café. Colin told the wait staff that Louise was responsible for the patronage of our large party and that they should shout her
afternoon tea for free, which they gladly obliged to do.
You can read more about these huts and others in:
UNTOLD STORIES FROM BACK-
By Mark Pickering
Thank you to Marian from the Methven Tramping Club for writting this fantastic report.
Basin Stream Hut
Totara Spur Hut
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