Thursday, February 17, 2022

Hut Renovating in the Eyre Mountains

Whilst I was happily paddling at the PRANZ meetup in Wanaka, a bunch of Permolat Southland volunteers had been doing renovations on a hut in the Eyre Mountains. These mountains are sandwiched between the highway heading south from Queenstown, south of Lake Wakatipu, and Mavora Lakes. They don't get a huge amount of visitors, mostly hunters and anglers, and there's a bevy of old forestry huts in there.

Mansion Hut got a makeover early January, but due to cloud and too many trees near the hut affecting helicopter access, they hadn't had enough time to do any painting. So I put my hand up to walk in and finish off the job.

Wally had been in a couple of days before me and had painted the hut. Which left just the toilet to do. So I spent a day painting a loo! And filling up the newly constructed woodshed with all the wood cut down to allow the helicopter to land.

After a couple of postponements due to low cloud affecting access I joined the team to renovate Irthing Hut, which is further up the Irthing Stream than Mansion Hut, though access via the stream is hard going as it's gorged, and there are easier alternatives. For us, we flew in by helicopter, bringing all the building material with us.

Not many people visit the hut, maybe 20 people a year, but it's in a nice location quite close to a small stream and catches a bit of sun when it comes out to play.

First step was to find a spot to pitch out tents. The ground was very wet and boggy, but I managed to find a spot under a large rock some distance from the hut up in the trees away from the river. Since we were cooking and eating down at the hut it wasn't such an issue being camped so far away. I just needed to find my way back to my tent before it got dark!!

Our team got going on the list of chores. A new skirt around the bottom to stop the floorboards getting damp and rotting.

Digging a toilet hole and erecting the kit toilet we had brought with us.

Painting the outside of the hut.

Painting the loo.

A new chimney cowl, though it looked like the chimney was already drawing well as it wasn't smoky inside the hut.

A new fireplace guard and surrounds tidied up.

A new woodshed.

It was a really good crew to work with. We had some laughs and enjoyed a little bit of downtime at the end of the day over dinner and a beer. 

The final day was misty with low cloud and we were a bit concerned that the chopper wouldn't be able to get in to retrieve us, so we made sure we were packed up and ready to go should a clearance come. Which gave us a little time for an explore and a few pictures of the finished effort.

The chopper turned up around 4, returning us back to Eyre Creek where we had left our cars. But Hutty had other plans, having hired the chopper to check out a few of the more remote huts in the Eyre Mountains and he invited us to join him. Lois and I jumped at the chance. Hutty is one of the top hutbaggers on the website, he's also a retired roofer so a great asset. I felt a little bit of a cheat ticking off some huts by landing next to them in a chopper and going in to write in the book, but if it's good enough for Hutty....

And then a few weeks later the entire Godzone crew would have stopped in on their way through the Eyre Mountains leg of the race. You're welcome!

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