Kiwi Flat Hut
Kiwi Flat Hut and its access track from the roadend up the TR of the valley are fully maintained by DOC.
Waitaha catchment. GPS: E1416735/ N5221676 (BW17 167 217). Map BW17. 265m altitude. Kiwi Flat Hut is located on the TR of Whirling Water, 400m upstream from its confluence with the Waitaha River and adjacent to the large river flat from which it derives its name. The bush surrounds are podocarp, rata, hardwood and the Hut is a pleasant and relatively easy overnighter, or first stop for those heading further up the Waitaha valley. The swingbridge at the bottom end of the Flat provides views into the top entrance of the spectacular Morgan Gorge which kayakers view as one of the most challenging stretches of white water in the country. An application for a run of the river hydro scheme at the top of the Gorge proposed by Westpower was declined some time back by the Minister for the environment. Although promoted as environmentally friendly, the proposed weir and tunnel system would have effectively removed three quarters of the Gorge's water, completely altering the character of this beautiful natural feature. Kiwi Flat Hut Map
There is a fully maintained access track up the TR of the Waitaha that starts at a DOC car park at the end of the North Bank Road. A narrow strip of unoccupied Crown Land between the farm fence and the River is followed from there, then a tracked piece of covenanted land around Point 202m which can be bypassed currently at low flows by fording a River braid that cuts in against the bluffs here. A shingle bar can be followed and the braid re-forded to where the farmland recommences. The track entrance at the upstream end of the bluff detour now drops straight into the river and a 100m bush bash is required to get back to open travel. There is a farm road that runs around the back of Point 202m but the owners have a blanket "no" at the moment to access requests. Once past Pt. 202m the route reconnects with the farm road which can be walked to McGregor Creek.
After MacGregor Creek it is easy river travel for around a half hour to the start of a track which enters the bush at an unnamed side creek (E1415316/ N5242071). It follows the creek up a couple of hundred metres, exits, and climbs steeply onto a bush terrace (there is a ladder and chain at the top of this pitch). The track follows the terrace for a bit then climbs up and over the shoulder of a spur before dropping onto a bench above the Morgan Gorge. The trail eventually drops down to the swingbridge at the top end of the Gorge and crosses back to the TL. Head up the river flat from here to to a low bluff which has rough track leading over it to Whirling Water, which is generally easy to ford at normal flows. A large orange triangle 200m up the TR of Whirling Water marks the start of a short section of track to the Hut. Allow around three hours to get from the roadend to Kiwi Flat.
An older route up South bank of the Waitaha is still useable although is getting rough in a few places places. Andre and Corina Winkelman did some trimming and cruise-taping on it in December 2109. Permission from P.D. Farms is normally required for access from the end of the South Bank road, reportedly have have stopped all access to trampers and hunters because of problems with people leaving gates open, and shooting cattle. An old farm track from one of the top paddocks leads to an old bulldozed cutting down to a flood channel on the Waitaha. Follow this upstream for a few hundred metres to where it joins the River just below Douglas Creek. Andre and Corina trimmed and marked down the cutting to the flood channel and the short section of bush terrace from the end of the flood channel To Douglas Creek. The boulderhop from Douglas Creek to Glamour Glen is straightforward in normal conditions. The entry to the old sidle track above the Morgan Gorge is well marked. A short distance along there are two large, recent slips about 100 metres apart that have wiped out the old track. Andre and Corina marked a route across and between these. Further along an older slip is crossed and this had been used to access a hot spring down in the gorge (approx. E1415214/ N5222445). The last bit of the climb down is very exposed and slippery, and I'd suggest taking a length of rope for this. The track continues sidling around the Gorge, eventually dropping back down to the River at the bottom end of Kiwi Flat. Allow 2-3 hours from the farm boundary to the Hut for this route.
Kiwi Flat Hut is a standard NZFS S70 six-bunk design with open fire built in the 1960's. It was lined in the early 1980's and had one of the cupboards at the entrance removed to create more space. A water tank and woodshed were installed shortly after the DOC transition in 1987.
Kiwi Flat Hut is in excellent condition currently. The chimney was patched in a few places a few years back and the rest of the Hut had some major maintenance done by DOC in September 2019. It was re-piled, had the lead removed from the roof, and new fly screens, fire surround and ceiling sheet installed. The hut was painted, the toilet door and latches fixed, the water tank cleaned, and the helipad cleared. New mattress covers were provided.
Upper Valley Tracks and Other Routes
DOC abandoned the tracks in the upper Waitaha in the early 1990's. The Permolat Group took on a maintenance role in 2007 and have made several subsequent track cutting forays into the valley, the last in April 2017. DOC very kindly did a chainsaw run down from Moonbeam to Kiwi in January 2020 when they were in the valley working on the Kiwi Flatroute. The track up to Moonbeam Hut from Kiwi Flat starts at the Kiwi Flat Hut door and climbs steeply up onto a bush terrace that separates the Waitaha from Whirling Water. After the Headlong Spur turnoff the track drops off the terrace and sidles across the bush faces above the Waitaha Gorge. After about 20 minutes the track veers sharply uphill and climbs to 510 metres to get around two large active slips, before dropping back to the original trackline and continuing upvalley. There are a number of ups and downs before it starts descending to the River just upstream of Mark Creek.
From here it is around an hour's boulderhopping, with a couple of small bush detours to Moonbeam Hut. Moonbeam Torrent, a short distance downriver from the Hut, is large and swift and usually impassable after heavy rain. The track up to the Hut starts on the riverbed 10 minutes upstream from the Torrent, and climbs steeply 60 vertical metres onto the terrace on which the Hut is located. The tracked section of the route is still OK, although is regenerating In the higher light areas. Allow 4-5 hours to get from Kiwi Flat to Moonbeam Hut.
The tracked sections of the route to Scamper Torrent Hut have been reliant for some years now on volunteer input to keep them open. In 2021 DOC got hold of some Jobs For Nature funding to get a Hiking NZ crew in to do some maintenance. This should be happening sometime soon. The track starts 75m up the TR of Labyrinth Creek at the bottom of Kiwi Flat. It climbs steeply out of the creekbed, then flattens and ascends a sloping bush terrace towards the toe of the hill where it connects with a narrow steep spur. The gradient doesn't relent much until Point 1125m where the spur connects with the broad ridge bounding the TL of Scamper Torrent basin. There's a pole just above a tarn and another quite a distance further down. Below this a cut trail leads down through a band of alpine to the floor of the basin. It is a 10 minute walk from here upriver to the Hut, which is located on the terrace on the TL of the Torrent. Allow 2.5-3 hours for the journey from Kiwi Flat Hut to Scamper Torrent Hut.
The track up Headlong Spur starts 1/2 an hour up the main valley track from Kiwi Flat and provides access to the Smyth Range. This was recut by the Hiking NZ crew in March 2021. The Headlong Spur route forms part of a three-day alpine circuit encompassing Kiwi Flat, the Smyth Range, and Scamper Torrent. There is one steep section on the Smyth Range bordering the Kea Glacier which is generally snow-free from late summer, but would require ice axes at other times if conditions were icy. Most of the Range is relatively easy travel however, and there are plenty of good campsites. Scamper Torrent is accessed by dropping in a WNW direction down some sloping benches under Mt. Durward into the small basin on the lee side point 1397m. Follow the small stream from the basin to where it drops over a waterfall and continue sidling West across the tussock faces onto the broad spur bounding the TR of the main branch of Scamper Torrent. This spur has a small creek bisecting it. The high ground on either side of the creek can be followed through patchy scrub down into the main basin. The Hut is visible most of the way down from Durward in fine conditions.
County Hut can be accessed by means of a high traverse of Mts. Neville and Barry. There is a bit of permanent snow on these two peaks, and it is advisable to carry an iceaxe at most times of the year. There is a steep, exposed section of Clearview Spur between points 1945m and 1690m that requires downclimbing. The route from Clearview Spur into County Stream is down the faces on the TL of Canary Creek. Drop into Canary Creek for the last couple of hundred metres to avoid a band of alpine scrub just above the valley floor. A fit party may be able to get from Kiwi to County in a day over the tops, but it makes more sense to camp out and break the journey in two.
Smyth Hut in the Wanganui can be accessed by dropping off the Smyth Range at point 1830m. The upper Smyth River is good travel down to just below the Bradshaw Creek confluence. From here the going gets bouldery and rough. While this route could theoretically be done in a long day from Kiwi Hut by a fit party, it would be more sensible to allow two. The swingbridge across the Wanganui just above the Smyth confluence was washed away in a flash flood in 2013.
Nil required currently. The Headlong Spur track between 900m and 1000m could benefit from a bit more cutting, From 550m down to the track end it’s well cruise-taped, but could do with more permolatting. There's enough permolat and nails under a stump at the junction to do this.
Provisions on Site
One camp oven minus lid, two billies, a pot, some small frypans, a broom, two aluminium buckets, plastic and aluminium wash basins, two axes, a slasher, a hammer, a reasonable amount of nails (various sizes) and staples, long tek screws, a small quantity of permolat, a pruning saw, a philips screwdriver, a sealant gun and two tubes of sealant, 2 paintbrushes, 2 paint rollers plus three sleeves and a tray. Under the hut there are three lengths of plastic downpipe, a length of spouting, and a roll of No. 8 wire, some spare piles, paint and a roll of clearlight.