Cone Hut Work and Birthday party
19-20 March 2011
It was a beautiful fine autumn weekend, in spite of poor forecasts. Looking down from DOCís new level-bridge the Waiohine River was very low, The track in from Walls Whare was very dry with almost no mud. But it still took us 2 Ĺ hours to Cone Hut weighed down with 2 litres of paint, an axe, grubber, etc.
Cone itself is looking in good condition, with its green roof, repainted two years ago, looking smart, and the newer totara slabs having bleached to a cream colour. Keegan cleaned the roof, including the plastic skylights, with some help lower down and inside from Michael.
A main purpose of the work party was to identify some of the original slabs that needed replacement, and measure them. Five were identified, four on the bunk platform and one at the back. It still may be easier to treat them for borer and rot, rather than ship in replacement slabs from the Hutt Valley Tramping Clubís demolished Baine Hut, which DOC has salvaged.
The door of the hutís locked maintenance locker under the bunks had been unscrewed from its hinges and the wood around the top bolts smashed off, so it could be opened. It is unclear what this act of vandalism achieved, as there were mainly empty paint cans inside. Very little gear is kept at the locker or hut, eg no axe or spade, presumably because gear there gets stolen. A ladder went missing some years ago, possibly to a private hut nearby.
Keegan and I sawed down a dead tree near the east end of the hut for firewood. Michael videoed the event. A scorpion weta in the moss on the trunk nipped me when I was removing the moss. The amount of moss on the trees shows that the site is usually very wet.
Susie cleaned the interior paint, and firewood was cut up. Susie and Keegan cooked the stew. I went for a walk down the track and found some great campsites on the flats beside the Tauherenikau. I also found a light metal ladder at the junction of the track to Bull Mound. This is now in Cone Hut. I cleaned the front of the hut
Three women coming from Totara Flats hut passed by, as did two DOC workers later in the evening, who had been catching and banding native birds near Cone Saddle.
Cone Hut was built from slab Totara logs in the Taurehenikau River by the Tararua Tramping Club in 1946. The hut then gradually decayed until its 40th Anniversary (1986) when Michael Bartlett and others resurrected it (See 1989 Tararua Annual). So 2011 is the hutís 65th birthday.
That evening after the stew, we ate an apricot birthday cake to mark the occasion, and ate Lindt chocolates brought by Susie and Keegan. That night a large full moon shone down, and moreporks called.
The next morning Susie and Keegan painted the inside of the hut with the white paint, and Michael painted the toilet, leaving the hut and surrounds looking spick and span. The punga western side of the toilet will soon need replacing.
We had a warm and pleasant walk out, seeing bellbirds, tuis, a tom tit, fantails and a wood pigeon. We were back at the Walls Whare car-park by 2 pm after a productive and celebratory trip. HB
- Party members
- Hugh Barr (leader and scribe), Michael Taylor, Keegan Durrant, Susie Mildenhall