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Avoca Hut is maintained by the Canterbury University Tramping Club (CUTC) with help from the Department of Conservation (DOC). In recent times there has been an extensive effort by the CUTC and DOC to get the hut back in good shape. The track from the Avoca River flats to the hut site is in ok condition and well marked.
Check it out on NZ Topo Map.
Craigieburn Forest Park, Avoca River catchment, Topo map sheet BV, E, N
ayment of $ per vehicle is required for use of the farm tracks as a contribution towards road maintenance. With a good 4WD vehicle access as far as Galilee Creek (~1h road) is usually possible. If on foot, from the flats at the Avoca/Harper River confluence follow old farm tracks crossing
From the Waimakariri River access exists via the moderate/hard Sphinx and Jordan Saddle Routes. These routes are unmarked and require a good deal of route-finding skills.
Jordan Saddle is reached by bolder-hopping up Jordan Stream from Turkey Flat in the Waimak. Follow the stream up to the last branch draining Pt1875. At about where it crosses the 1390m contour climb out of the stream and ascend the tussock slopes to Jordan Saddle.(4-5h). To descend into Galilee Creek the best route is to drop down a spur directly below the saddle into the bush. Take care to follow the main spur until ready to drop into the side creek. At around the 1280m contour veer west into the small side creek draining the true right of the saddle. Alternative routes include: from the saddle climb towards Pt1800 to gain the gut draining the slopes above; or follow the spur down to the bush-line and then duck down through the beach forest into the true left branch. Once in the Galilee Creek bolder-hop to its junction with the Avoca River. See above for the route to the hut. Total tramping time 7-9h.
For Sphinx Saddle follow the Waimak upstream for 1-2h to Anti Crow Hut (DOC, 6 bunks) on the true right. From Anti Crow Hut follow the marked track starting behind the hut to where it crosses the Anti Crow River. Leave the track and head up the Anti Crow crossing the river as required. To gain Sphinx Saddle follow up the stream draining from below Pt1847 to where a small side stream enters on the true right. Head up this gut and scree to the saddle. On the other side drop into the head of Easy Stream. Deer trails make easy travel in the beech forest beside the stream. The stream narrows where a massive land slide enters the stream, it should be obvious to duck across to the true right to pass the tight spot on a deer trail 10m above the creek. From here things open out dramatically and it’s really easy travel along a smooth open creek bed to the junction with the Avoca River. See above for route from the junction to Avoca Hut. Tramping time 7-9h.
Routes(source: Tramping in the Southern Alps: AP to Mt Cook, Brabyn & Bryant) Greenlaw Creek has the reputation as the most difficult river in the upper Waimak. After about 1-2hrs of boulder hopping the initially open streambed is blocked by an impassable gorge and waterfall. The route then goes up a narrow scree on the true left, immediately below the gorge mouth. At the scrub line there is a choice of routes:
If heading for Avoca Col sidle at or near the scrub edge, crossing at the step between waterfalls at several side creeks. (The route through here is not at all obvious when viewed from a distance). Climb and sidle at a height of about 1500m into the head of Greenlaw Creek. Continue sidling at about this height to the rib on the true left of the gully draining Avoca Col and gain the scree basin further up. From Avoca Col, either sidle up to Gizeh Col and drop into the Anti Crow River, or descend to the Avoca River. A marked track to the hut starts at the end of Moraine Flat. Fools Col is another alternative route. The waterfall draining the basin at the head of the Anti Crow is avoided on the true right. Greenlaw Col is not recommended as a trough route, although it may be used as access to Mt Greenlaw.
Half Moon Saddle can be used to access the Wilberforce River and a three-passes alternative by returning via White Col. Beyond Avoca Hut a marked trail climbs past a waterfall into the upper reaches of Hanging Valley Creek.Travelling up this valley is pleasant with good views into the head of the Avoca. From Half Moon Saddle a good scree descend into Bristed Stream exists. Expect about 4hrs of wading, boulder hopping and climbing around small bluffs to the Wilberfoce. If the stream is flowing higher than normal the gorge becomes impassable. Alternatively the ridge between Bristed and Fanghill Stream can be followed to Fang Hill. From here drop back to the river bed, where there is good camping on grassy flats. Weka Biv (2 bunks) is located 300m up Weka Stream. To gain White Col boulder hop up Burnett Stream. The route does not lead over the col itself but rather over a saddle approximately one kilometer west, on the western side of a high point on the ridge. Follow the western most branch at the head of Burnett Stream, climbing up scree slopes to reach this saddle. From the top head across to Barker Hut and descend down the White and Waimak rivers.
A route via Bealey Spur up to Jordan saddle provides a spectacular but straight-forward route (in good conditions). The true-right tributary of Galilee Stream is followed down to the Avoca River, which is followed to Avoca Hut. This route can take 9–11 hours, so unless you prefer a harder trip, camping at Bealey Spur Hut on Friday night is recommended.
From Lagoon Saddle the broken rocky tops of the Black Range can be traversed all the way to Mid Hill, where a sidle is necessary on the southern side. From the saddle at the head of Long Creek follow the obvious middle spur into Amphitheatre Creek. Don’t be tempted to drop into the head of this creek, but rather continue down to the Avoca River.
Download Life & Times of Avoca Hut.
Avoca Hut is a 6 bunk raised A-frame design, built in 1947 by the then Canterbury University College Tramping Club (CUCTC), the predecessor of the CUTC. It has a wooden floor, wooden frame and corrugated iron roof. Mattresses are provided, as are a water barrel, bathtub and potbelly stove for heating and a long-drop toilet.
There has been various CUTC work parties to Avoca over the years including the instillation of a small concrete pad floor, new tables and internal lining. The hut underwent a prolonged period of minimal maintenance ending in the early 2000’s when questions were raised over its condition. In 2007 the hut was repainted, and around the same time repairs to the fire place and door window took place. In 2011 a major highlight was the intrepid journey of a bath tub up the Avoca Valley. Recently, the CUTC applied in the first round of consortium funding (late 2014) to undertake basic repairs on the hut. In 2016/17 club members gave the hut a major over hall, including replacing the floor, piles, studs, bottom plate, door, skylight, guttering, repainting, water tank stand construction and tree pruning.
Provisions on Site
One broom, one old axe and one new fibreglass axe (Only use on chopping block!), three saws, coal shovel, spades, hammer, nails…
Cover photo credit: Kerry Clapham (2016)