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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Architect Creek Hut | Copland Track

Main attraction: it’s cheap, and can be used as a base for a day walk up to the hot pools if the Welcome Flat Hut is fully booked.

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Barn Bay private hut | Cascade to Martins Bay coast route, South Westland

Barn Bay/Hope River private hut | Cascade to Martins Bay coast route, South Westland

This private hut at the end of the route from the Jackson River roadend is perched above the Hope River.

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Blue River Hut (Blowfly Hut) | Haast Paringa Cattle Trail

Built in 1905, but since renovated. | Blue River Hut, Haast Paringa Cattle Trail

It seems cruel to refer to this delightful historic hut as Blowfly Hut considering it’s more than 50 years since cattle ceased traversing the Haast Paringa Cattle Trail. Blowflies are not such a common occurrence these days.

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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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Callery Creek campsite | Barn Bay to Big Bay coastal route

Yeah, that's grass over sand, mostly. Most are fairly tight to fit a 2 person tent only. | Callery Creek campsite, Barn Bay to Big Bay coastal route

Callery Creek is possibly the best campsite between Barn Bay and Gorge River.

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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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Coppermine Creek Hut | Haast Paringa Cattle Trail

Down on the river flats. | Coppermine Creek Hut, Haast Paringa Cattle Trail

Memorable due to the hordes of mosquitoes that seem to find some way into the hut. Expert tip: bring your own mozzie coils, or even a can of fly spray.

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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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Douglas Rock Hut | Copland Track

Douglas Rock Hut is in a spectacular setting with a backdrop of some of the tallest mountains in New Zealand.

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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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Gorge River Hut | Barn Bay to Big Bay coast route

Gorge River is not far away. The sandfly screen almost keeps the sandflies out. | Gorge River Hut, Barn Bay to Big Bay coastal route

6 bunks, but this would rarely be full. About 40 parties travel along the coast each year, most stay a night or two, although as many arrive by helicopter now the airstrip has eroded by storms to the point of being unsafe.

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Hacket River campsite | Barn Bay to Big Bay coastal route

Most are fairly tight to fit a 2 person tent only. | Hacket River campsite, Barn Bay to Big Bay coastal route

Note that a stay here will test the limits of your insect repellent.

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Horseshoe Flat Hut | Moeraki River, South Westland

Yup, another NZFS SF 70 hut, one of hundreds in the South Island. | Horseshoe Flats Hut, Moeraki Valley Trail

An easy-ish three hour walk up from the Haast Paringa Track. But not much visited due to the cul-de-sac nature of the valley.

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Maori Saddle Hut | Haast Paringa Cattle Trail

Set in a small clearing just off the track. Plenty of kaka and kakariki around. | Maori Saddle Hut, Haast Paringa Cattle Trail

The Maori Saddle and Coppermine Creek huts suggest the New Zealand Forest Service once had some ambition for the Haast Paringa Cattle Trail. But the 10% difficult sections, and the nine-hour listed time between huts have not popularised the track as planned.

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Middle Head Hut | Moeraki Valley Track

You start to see the head of the valley. | Middle Head Hut, Moeraki Valley Trail

If you make it up to Horseshoe Flat you may as well continue up to Middle Head Hut. Built just prior to the nearby Horseshoe Flat Hut, and receives even fewer visitors.

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Mt Brown Hut | Lake Kaniere

Mt Brown Hut, Lake Kaniere

If you are fit and frisky, the track up to Mount Brown Hut is a great test of your fitness, and general capabilities.

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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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Ryans Creek campsite | Barn Bay to Big Bay coast route

Plenty of choice here with a small tent. | Ryans Creek campsite, Barn Bay to Big Bay coastal route

Good campsites either side of the creek. The south side, in the forest, is more sheltered due to the tree cover.

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Spoon River campsite | Barn Bay to Big Bay coastal route

Flat, somewhat sheltered, and maybe you can get your tent pegs in. | Spoon River campsite, Barn Bay to Big Bay coastal route

Someone has removed a few flax bushes on the south side of the river to create a flat and somewhat sheltered place for two tents.

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Stafford Hut | Southern West Coast

Stafford Hut is worth the rather strenuous walk in. | Stafford Hut, South Westland

A splendid hut adjacent, almost, to the superb coastline only four hours from the road. Sounds great. And it really is a Top 5 rated hut.

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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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Welcome Flat campsite | Copland Track

Eight almost level campsites have been created in the tussock to allow tents to be pitched.

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Welcome Flat Hut | Copland Track

Welcome Flat Hut has become so popular because of the adjacent and entirely excellent natural hot pools that a year-round booking is operational. Note that if you do not have a booking this can cause major problems if you just turn up.

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Welcome Flat rock bivvy | Copland Track

The rock bivvy is for those who appreciate living in the outdoors.

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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.