West Coast huts and bivvies

No. This website doesn’t document many of the 140 backcountry huts found on the West Coast between Karamea and Haast.

Well, there aren’t many easy, or even hard loop tracks on The Coast.

The rivers are steep, and a real boulder festival. Often the route is just following the riverbed where rock hopping over car, bus, house sized boulders, and getting your feet/undies wet are required, even when the weather is good. The mountains are also very steep. It ain’t so easy popping from one river valley into the one adjacent.

With a few relatively easy exceptions, Welcome Flat, Cedar Flat, expeditions into the West Coast hills are, err, expeditions.

You need considerable experience in trail finding as the tracks can be poorly marked, you may be required to cross hair raising slips, or wait out flooding in rivers, etc. It is not simply a step up from the Great Walks, it can be demanding, energy expending tramping at its purest.

Due to the high rainfall, 10 m a year is common, and the steepness of the terrain, the rivers get up super quickly. That also means they can drop almost as fast. A 300 mm deluge in 24 hours happens often enough.

The remotehuts.co.nz website documents 66, err, remote huts or bivvies on the western side of the Southern Alps. Many are the most difficult/strenuous/foolhardy huts to access. Some are therefore seldom visited. The 66 huts/bivvies are no longer fully maintained by DOC and are now cared for by the hard working volunteers of the Permolat Trust. Thanks for not allowing DOC to demolish these refuges, as was proposed by DOC back in 2002.

Here’s a few huts and bivvies from The Coast . . .

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Bluff Hut, Hokitika River

The hut is perched near the edge of a bluff. | Bluff Hut, Hokitika River, West Coast

One of the great DOC hut locations, with the hut matching in quality.

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Cedar Flat Historic Hut, Toaroha River

The old 1958 hut stands out . | Cedar Flats Historic Hut, Toaroha River, West Coast

Fortunately Cedar Flat Historic Hut, an old Forest Service hut has been retained, and done up to be acceptable accommodation.

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Cedar Flat Hut, Toaroha River

The original hut was majorly extended recently, and totally upgraded. | Cedar Flats Hut, Toaroha River, West Coast

Cedar Flat Hut is a fairly popular West Coast hut due to its proximity to the road end, it’s a half day walk, and being only a short walk to some acceptable natural hot pools.

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Crystal Bivvy, Toaroha River

That door is barely half standard door height. You crawl in. | Crystal Bivvy, Toaroha River, West Coast

Crystal Bivvy is a mattress-less shelter, although it does have an air mattress with a pump.

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Frew Hut, Whitcombe River

Frew is up on a river terrace with some young kahikateas around. | Frew Hut, Whitcomb River, West Coast

A modern DOC hut, ie, insulated, double glazed, sandfly screens, on a river terrace above the Whitcombe River.

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Frew Saddle Bivvy, Frew Creek

There's quite the view down Frew Creek and the Hokitika River. | Frew Saddle Bivvy, Frew Creek, West Coast

Two is full capacity. Three or more would need to be, or become, very good friends.

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Poet Hut, Mungo River

Great today, but may not get much sunlight, or visitors in winter. | Poet Hut, Mungo River, West Coast

Yeah, she’s fairly hard to get to these days. And it’s in one of the wettest areas of New Zealand.

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Rapid Creek Hut, Hokitika River

Kinda looks what the West Coast should look like. | Rapid Creek Hut, Hokitika River, West Coast

Comfortable ex-New Zealand Forest service S81 four bunker on a grassy flat with an impressive mountainous backdrop.

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Toaroha Saddle Bivvy

Bivvy at the saddle. Water from that tarn. | Toaroha Saddle Bivvy, Toaroha River, West Coast

Toaroha Saddle Bivvy was rebuilt in 1984, but still was designed for hobbits. Two thirds height door and not possible to stand up inside.

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Top Toaroha Hut, Toaroha River

The exterior has been recently tidied up and repainted. | Top Toaroha Hut, Toaroha River, West Coast

Top Toaroha Hut is another old New Zealand Forest Service six bunker, there were 100s of these built.

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Yeats Ridge Hut, Toaroha River

Looking over to Mt Reeves, Adventure Ridge and Zit Saddle. | Yeats Ridge Hut, Toaroha River, West Coast

Yates Ridge Hut is not quite on the ridge, but does have a great view of Zit Creek, Adventure Bivvy standing out clearly next to a major waterfall on the other side of the creek, and the steep climb to Zit Saddle if the clouds are high.