Stark beauty and grand scenery
If refurbished old musterer’s huts are to your liking, along with grand scenery amid the stark beauty of the high country, then Boundary Creek Hut is a winner.
The hut’s spacious interior boasts the spartan comfort of eight bunk beds with mattresses, table and seats, and an open fireplace. That’s where the comforts end. There is no wall or ceiling insulation, just corrugated iron. And that fireplace? Well, as the hut environs are almost devoid of any substantial vegetation, the fire may remain a cold comfort. However, that is not to say this hut’s not worthy of a visit, just time your trip to the warmer months.
Because it’s only two hours from the road end, the hut also makes a fine day trip destination.
The hike begins at the Paddle Hill Creek car park south-east of the hut which can be accessed by 4WD vehicles as far as the locked gate – other vehicles will need to be left well before this down the slope towards the main Hakatere Heron Road.
Because the road continues all the way to the hut, it can be mountain-biked through the magnificent open scenery at the foot of Mt Guy and Dogs Range. There is also a tramping track – part of the Te Araroa Trail – just to the north.
It’s a great walk in here though and my last visit was with friends and our young children.
The 4WD trail paves the way, so there are no obstacles to tackle, just a steady uphill push to the broad saddle at the head of Paddle Hill Creek. There are some good views here of the South Branch of the Ashburton River and our team re-grouped before descending the steepish slope to the terrace where the hut stands.
The setting here is pure high country magic. Tussock flats and terraces, high bare mountains, enticing ridgelines, sparkling streams, and below the hut is the great blue surge of the South Ashburton where it enters a short gorge.
As the wind was up, we were pleased to escape the unpleasant gusts descending off the ridgelines above and set up our cookers inside the hut for a late lunch. With lots of space inside and the addition of skylights, the hut has a welcoming and bright interior.
If you have come by bike or made good time walking, you might consider continuing up and over the Dog Range to reach Mystery Lake, a post-glacial feature on the southern flanks of the range. As Boundary Creek Hut is at 860m, it requires a climb to 1300m and a short descent to the lake. Another 4WD trail helps ease the way so the travel is relatively trouble-free – except for the climb to the high point.
Once on the range crest, you can see all the way into the upper Havelock Valley, as well as across the Rangitata to Mesopotamia and Mt Sunday. It’s a fantastic spectacle and certainly worth the steep plod up the hill to reach it.
A quick descent to the lake completes the day and the return to the hut and back to the car park is much easier than the way in.
- Total Ascent
- 2-3hr to hut
- Boundary Creek Hut (free, eight bunks)
- From the Hakatere Heron Road