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July 2012 Issue
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Frozen refuge

Musterer’s Hut, Redcliffe Station, Canterbury

It’s early winter and three of us are intent on a day climb in the Black Hill Range along the south bank of the Rakaia River in central Canterbury. A sparkling winter’s day greets us as we climb out of Packers Creek at the back of Redcliffe Station to access the high plateau around Redcliffe Saddle from where we plan to climb to the tops.

The peaks of the Black Hill and Mt Hutt ranges are luminously close, their seeming proximity magnified by the new blanket of snow they are carrying, dumped here by a southerly change just one day earlier. Cold hangs like a curtain in the crisp mountain air, drawing us into the frigid wastes where the only option is to keep moving to stay warm.

Rounding a bend in the 4WD trail we are following we happen upon this delightful little silver shed fixed to a terrace above a tributary of Redcliffe Stream. The snow of the past days has flicked a good skiff over the tussock but mostly left the hut uncovered and now presents a spartan winter view.

We skirt around the structure, finding the two 44 gallon drums of water standing out front are frozen solid for the first 300mm – no water for us there without a lot of hacking with our ice axes. Inside there’s a great set up with bunks, mattresses, pots and pans, tinned food, wet weather gear and all the accoutrements necessary for a high country muster. It obviously sees a fair bit of use from the local farmer and his children, but it’s not free to use – permission is required first.

The hut commands a fine view of Redcliffe Saddle and the Mt Hutt Range away to the south-east and would make an excellent base for exploring the ranges and valleys here. For us, though, our visit is brief – there’s a peak or two to climb and winter’s wonderland to explore beyond the door.

Wild File

Access Take the Double Hill Run Road off SH77, west of Rakaia Gorge, to Redcliffe Stream and station. Permission is required from Redcliffe Station (03 318 5874) to walk the vehicle track up Packers Creek.

Otherwise use the marked access trail up Redcliffe Stream.

Grade Moderate

Time 90min

Map BW20

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