Showing posts with label Casey hut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Casey hut. Show all posts

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Sad news: Casey Hut in Arthurs Pass NP burnt to ground

Casey Hut burns down...

 A group from the Christchurch Tramping Club discovered the smouldering embers of Casey Hut on Saturday morning. I visited the hut back in 2012 while doing the Andrews-Casey-Binser circuit, it was a lovely old Lockwood style wood building.

Casey Hut in 2012 when I visited

A very similar thing happened to the old Hawdon Hut back in 2010 and it took 2 years for a replacement to be built. Here's hoping it will be replaced by DOC as it is vital stop over for anyone tramping the Upper Poulter Valley, Casey-Binser Circuit and Lake Minchin.

Below are a couple of shots from the Tramping New Zealand website of the hut interior in 2014.

Casey Hut: Interior, dining area

Casey Hut: interior one of the bunkrooms

Here is a photo of the empty hut site from the Radio NZ website:

The hut was completely destroyed in the blaze.

2017 Update: DOC Canterbury did a assessment and decided that Casey Hut will NOT be replaced. This is likely to happen more often now that DOC are severely strapped for cash. Plans are afoot to move one of the the huts from the Upper Poulter Valley to near the old hut site. It looks like Trust Poulter (8 bunks) will be shifted sometime in 2017-2018 with a refurbishment and possible enlargement. This work is being carried out by a volunteer group with some assistance from DOC Canterbury.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Andrews Valley-Casey Hut -Binser Saddle loop: 16-18 November 2012

The Andrews Valley-Binser Saddle Loop

In mid November I tramped the classic Andrews Valley-Binser Saddle route.  The track is rated as easy-moderate, which I think relates to the distance (36 km's total) rather than the difficulty of the track.  Unfortunately the weather was atrocious: rain, wind (80+ kph overnight)  and cloud  made the conditions less than ideal.

View up Poulter Valley from the rise near Petes Stream

 Lovely New Zealand late spring weather!  

The theme for the trip was "WET"!

Day One: Andrews Shelter to Casey Hut; 16 kms, 6-7 hours

The track from Andrews Shelter to Casey Hut is mostly in the bush, so this protected me from most of the rain. The weather improved day by day, it was clear and sunny weather for the last day.

Map: Andrews Valley-Poulter Valley area, Arthur's Pass National Park

Car parking area near Andrews Shelter, Arthurs Pass National Park

Start of the Andrews Valley track, next to the Mt White Road
DOC timings for this track are out a bit, recommended time is 6 hours, I took 7 hours to get to the  hut, probably because the weather packed in and made travel more difficult.

Interior of Andrews Shelter, Arthurs Pass National Park

Andrews Shelter, at the start of the Andrews Valley Track

The car was left at Andrews Shelter, it is very basic, some bench seats, no rain water or fire place but it does have a toilet. You could sleep in the shelter if required but it would be cold and uncomfortable.

The track starts with a steep climb onto a spur, it then sidles it's way to Hallelujah Flats at around the 800 metre mark for the next 2 hours.

Manuka scrub lining sides of Andrews Valley track

Andrews Valley Track, this is about 1.5 hours in from the Mt White Road

It would be difficult to get lost following this track, but incredibly, people have come to grief in this valley before. Personally, I found the going fine, the track sidles in a band about a hundred metres up and down for most of the way, not too strenuous.

If you did a right turn and walked off the track I can see how you could get lost, as it is quite thick but other wise....?

One of the side streams crossing the Andrews Valley Track

Mature red beech trees, Andrews Valley Track, Arthurs Pass National Park

Start of Hallelujah Flats, Andrews Valley
Eventually made it to Hallelujah Flat, aptly named I thought ( I certainly said "Hallelujah" when I saw them!!!!). These flats extend for about 2-3 km's with the track following close to Andrews Stream for most of the way. The track is easy to follow, it obviously sees a lot of use.

Map: Hallelujah Flats and Casey Saddle, Arthur's Pass NP

Hallelujah Flat is an excellent place to camp, there is a lot of flat land, the water is clean (no domestic animal access) and there is a bit of firewood available.The best spots are at either end of the Flat, try to camp on a slight incline so you dont get inundated if it rains.

View back down Andrews Valley, Casey-Binser Route, Arthurs Pass NP

The flats took about an hour to traverse, then a stop for a soggy lunch huddled under some beech trees! Nothing quite says New Zealand tramping than a cold, wet lunch huddled under a tree with the smell of wet beech in the air. This is the point that the rain started really coming down so I packed my camera away.

Heading over Casey Saddle on the way to Casey Hut, Arthur's Pass NP

Casey Saddle, the Casey Saddle Track  sidles along the  spur to right,
photo from Scott Condron

 Past Casey Saddle you need to ford Surprise and Trinity streams which will be impassible in heavy rain. As it was they were both right on the edge of safety for me crossing by myself, if I had come through an hour or so later I would not have been able to cross.

The last 2 hours are a climb up and over a spur, once over the spur it was a long slow descent in the rain down to the river flat the hut is located on.

Rest spot at unnamed stream near Pt 869, Casey Stream Track

Finally made it to Casey hut about 7 pm, only 2 other occupants so plenty of room in this 10 bunk hut. It was a pleasure to arrive and find an enormous fire blazing in the woodburner...

Note: Casey Hut burnt to the ground in late 2015. Current DOC plans do not include replacing the hut, instead this will be a back country camp site, possibly with a new cooking shelter. Various groups are trying to encourage DOC to build a new hut here even if it is much smaller than the original. Currently you will find a toilet and the old woodshed on site, water is from the nearby stream. 

Burnt out Casey Hut, 2016  from the TVNZ website

The closest hut is Trust Poulter about 1.5 hours further up valley, inaccessible if there has been any rain as there are three streams to cross en route. 

Take a tent with you if you are considering walking this circuit.

The interior shots below are from the Tramping New Zealand website.

Interior of Casey Hut showing bench area

Bunk room in old Casey Hut, Arthurs Pass NP

The awesome firebox in Casey Hut, Arthurs Pass NP
I shared the hut that night with two Kiwi women who had come in from Andrews Shelter a couple of hours before me. They were on their way up valley to Minchin Lake but unfortunately the heavy rain scuttled their plans as Casey Stream was a roaring vortex of death.  

I had a meal of instant mash and canned corned beef fried into patties, oh man it is good after a long hard day of tramping. 

I had a whole bunk room to myself that night.

Day Two: Casey Hut to Pete's Stream; 10 kms. 3-4 hours

I stayed in the hut the next morning drinking tea as the weather was terrible, it was due to clear in the late afternoon. Casey Hut is magnificent, it is one of the "Lockwood" style huts popular with the NZFS in the early 1980's, others include Hamilton Hut, Hope Kiwi, Hawdon Mark I, Edwards and Goat Pass.

These are far and away my favourite DOC huts. I love all that wood!

Casey Hut, Poulter valley, Arthur s Pass National Park... morning of day two

Side view of Casey Hut in 2015, From the Arthurs Pass website

The weather cleared in the afternoon so I started out at 2 pm, there were light showers on and off as progress was made down valley. It was quite a hike, about 10km's and took about 3-4 hours. Because of the rain I took no photos.

The long slog down the Poulter Valley, Arthurs Pass NP

There are two significant streams to cross: Mt Brown and Pete Stream's. I had no problems crossing them but they could be a problem if it was raining hard, bear this in mind when planning a trip up the Poulter Valley. 

View of the terraces at Petes Stream, near Binser Saddle from Scott Condron

 A camp was selected on the river terraces on the far side of Pete Stream, around 6.30 pm. Pete Stream is the last reliable water point between here and Andrews Shelter, so fill up before you start the climb. There are a couple of scratch spots in the matagouri where you can pitch your tent, well protected from the wind.

Me inside my tent on the terraces above Pete's Stream, Poulter Valley

 I stopped here as it was at least another 3-4 hours to get back to the car and I didn't fancy walking on an unfamiliar track in the dark.

Pete Stream, Poulter Valley from my camp site, morning day three
I was frankly knackered by the time I had my tent up and ready to go in the semi darkness. After a couple of brews and some food I was feeling much better.  I heard some light rain and snow falling during the night but nothing too major...

Day three: Pete Stream to Andrews Shelter; 10 kms, 4 hours

I was surprised to wake on the last day and see snow on the trees towards Binser Saddle, but apart from the snow coating the trees it was a nice clear day.

Going up and over Binser Saddle, Arthurs Pass NP on day three. Red cross is my campsite.

 I set out to cross Binser Saddle around 7 am, it was 2 hours to the top and 1.5 hour down the other side. I was surprised by how far it was, the track sidles up and down through the forest for quite a way but only has 600m of height gain over 6-7 km.

Binser Saddle Track, Arthurs Pass NP

The track to the top is not steep, just long, the track condition on this side of the saddle is good.

Jon resting half way to Binser Saddle, Arthurs Pass National Park

Binser Saddle Track, looking back downhill towards the Poulter Valley

You are mostly travelling through areas of regenerating beech, kanuka and manuka, it is either storm or fire damaged.

Nearing the top of Binser Saddle, Arthurs Pass National Park
Near the summit there were patches of old growth and also a small amount of snow on the ground. There is a small seasonal stream about 50 meters from the saddle, this is the only water supply on the whole track.

Snow on trees, Binser Saddle Track

Snow on the tree tops near Binser Saddle, Arthurs Pass National Park
There is a beautiful clearing at the top of the saddle which would be an ideal place to camp. It had about 5 cm's of snow on it as I passed, but you could see the potential there.

Track just before Binser Saddle, the stream is near here

Half way down the other side of the saddle was an excellent view of the Mt White bridge area, as you can see the weather was great on the last day. 

View from the high point, down towards Mt White road

The condition of the track from this point down to the flats is very poor. It is steep & rutted with a lot of wind fall, it really needs some TLC from DOC.

Binser Saddle from Mt White road, Arthurs Pass National Park

After another hour I made it to flat ground. There was the matter of a 4 km walk back to the car on the Mt White station road, I found this to be the most difficult part of the trip because I was quite tired by this point. Next time, I would be tempted to park my car at the base of Binser Saddle and then walk back to the Andrew Shelter start point, to save this walk at the end.

Binser Saddle, doesn't look so bad....nek minit!

Binser Saddle is the V notch in the centre of the above photo, you sidle through the forest and then work your way down the ridge running left to right.

Overall a good trip, enjoyable even with the rain. I made a rookie mistake and started out with a three day tramp, really I should have worked my way up to a three day trip because I was seriously unfit. I think next time I would start at the Binser Saddle end of the track and walk out through Andrews Valley.

Access: From off SH 73 drive along Mt White Road to Andrews Valley entrance near Andrews Shelter, other exit is at base of Binser Saddle 4 kms along Mt White Station Road
Track Times: 6-7 hours to Casey Campsite, 5 hours to Pete's Stream, 4-5 hours to Andrews Shelter via Binser Saddle
Hut Details: Andrews Shelter, no bunks, no heating, toilet: DOC campsite on old Casey Hut location, toilet and wood shed, water from nearby stream: Scratch campsite on the river terrace overlooking Pete's Stream
Miscellaneous: All streams on this circuit are un-bridged and may be impossible to cross in a storm, long periods traversing flats which are prone to windy conditions.