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November 2017 Issue
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Camp Creek Hut, West Coast

Camp Creek Hut has six biunks and an outdoor bathtub. Photo: Andrew Buglass
Distance
Camp Creek Hut, 3km; Pt1795, 6.05km
Total Ascent
1714m to Pt1795
Time
Car park to Camp Creek Hut, 2.5hr; hut to Pt1795, 3-5hr
Grade
Moderate/Difficult
Accom.
Camp Creek Hut (free, six bunks)
Access
Lake Brunner Road leads 500m to a parking area where the track starts
Map
BU20
GPX File
Camp Creek Hut.1 (gpx, 17 KB)
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The pick of them

Emerging from a tunnel of dense bush into a small clearing, I was expecting to see a dilapidated corrugated iron hut. But to my surprise, Camp Creek Hut turned out to be a charming country cottage with an outdoor fire-heated bath.

From the car park, a clear route leads directly into a podocarp-broadleaf forest and shortly heads upward. It briefly follows a small tributary of Camp Creek, where the gradient and boulders indicate that it would require care in higher flows. The track is well defined, and I soon gained height, crossing a second tributary as the trail wound up and around the steep valley side. It topped out some 150m above the creek.

The route traverses a steep slope with a drop to the valley floor that is so precipitous I hugged the forested track to avoid falling. DOC’s recommendation that trail users should be experienced in backcountry tramping is well founded.

About 30 minutes before reaching the hut, the track rejoins the creek for a short distance. I crossed to the true left and climbed uphill to the hut.

In its day, Camp Creek Hut was seen as an upmarket hut. Constructed in 1979 to replace a tent camp used by Forest Service staff studying possum impact and vegetation in the area, it originally had nine bunks, a workshop, weather station and a covered bath and shower linked to a wetback hot water cylinder.

The hut can be used as a base to explore the Kaimata Range, Mt Alexander or even as part of a round trip that takes in the Crooked River to the east.

From the hut, massive blocks of schist can be seen on the tops above the bushline, and the prospect of exploring these motivated me back onto the track to climb the 640m for a closer look. Crossing a tributary of Camp Creek, the route becomes rougher and steeper, confined to a narrow spur, bounded by steep faces that require a scramble through dense scrub and roots. A final 200m stretch follows pole markers along a steep tussock face through the large schist blocks and finally onto the tops.

The route carries on to Pt1795 and the reward for all the effort: spectacular views to the south, overlooking two lovely tarns, and east along the Kaimata Range to Mt Alexander (1958m) and further to Harpers Pass.

Of the many Camp Creeks in the South Island, this one has to be the pick.

– Keith Hawkins

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