Waimea Tramping Club has a history of involvement with Balloon Hut going back to the last major upgrade of the hut in February 1995. A major force in that project was Diana Reeves, club president at the time. After Diana’s passing in 2010 a bequest of $1000 from her to the club was a major impetus for further improvements at the hut. In 2013 the club offered DOC $2600 to install a wood burner, hearth and flue. A large amount of the funds came from club funds set aside for hut and track work. Although DOC accepted the offer, they did not have the extra funding for a woodshed. But after a meeting with DOC the club submitted an application to the Outdoor Recreation Consortium hoping to complete the project. In March 2015 the club’s application was approved for the sum of $12,964. The club’s offer of funding had also increased from $2600 to $3000.
The project started off with the prefabrication of the woodshed, completed over two days, on the 21-22 July 2015 at the DOC Motueka yard by four Waimea TC volunteers and a DOC builder. The work at Balloon Hut was then scheduled for 14-18 March 2016 by four Waimea TC volunteers and three DOC personnel. On Monday the WTC group were flown in by helicopter along with a gasfitter. Then followed several more flights to Balloon Hut from the nearest road end at Flora Hut. These loads consisted of the flat pack woodshed walls and floor, timber for piles, bearers and dwangs, 600kgs of cement, the Pioneer wood burner and ample firewood and the three DOC workers.
As each sling load was lowered into the clearing by the hut it was quickly unloaded to leave room for the next load to be flown in. Meanwhile the troublesome old gas heater was removed. After the gasfitter finished his work he was flown out, when the helicopter had finished transferring loads. After discussion, the site for the woodshed was decided - between the hut and the toilet. Firstly, holes for the piles were dug, with the first row of three holes dug in good ground but we then struck harder ground for the other two rows of holes. The timber piles were set in place with instant cement mixed in a wheelbarrow, then the bearers were positioned on top. The prefabricated floor and walls could then be quickly put up. After the removal of the gas heater the siting of the Pioneer fireplace in the hut was decided. With more spacing needed for the hearth, part of the bench seat was cut away and an internal wooden support pole was removed and remounted further back.
On Tuesday the woodshed rafters and dwangs were put in place and the colour steel cladding was attached and the roofing installed, then all the firewood was stacked into the woodshed. Meanwhile the hearth framing was made and the concrete hearth was poured and smoothed out. Leftover concrete was also used for a step at the woodshed entrance. By the end of Tuesday the project was well ahead of schedule so the flying in of another volunteer planned for Wednesday was cancelled.
Wednesday the forecast rain arrived which cancelled the helicopter flight for the plumber to install the fireplace flue. The only finishing work needed was the flashing for the woodshed but several odd jobs inside and outside were completed. Over the week other work carried out included grubbing back tussock on 50m of track above the hut and 80m track toward the Cobb and grubbing back tussock on Cobb side of hut, reinstalling the drying rack, sanding the table and recoating in polyurethane, constructing a makeshift wood box from old some seating, scrubbing clean some areas of slippery decking, cleaning the hut air vents, some general cleaning and reattaching the map. The lack of remaining wall space meant the map was re-fixed to the sloping ceiling above the table – what other hut has a map on the ceiling?
Again on Thursday the helicopter flight was called off because of drizzle and low cloud so a few of the group relocated to Salisbury Lodge and tramped out. The remaining three volunteers and one DOC staffer had a very quiet day with only one or two small jobs. It was good to see trampers at the hut each day despite some wet weather and they were appreciative of the work being done. Over the whole week about 100 volunteer hours work were put in.
On Friday the weather cleared nicely for an early helicopter ride out. During April and May four dates were scheduled to fly in to finish off the fireplace but each time the flight was cancelled because of rain or low cloud.
The final stageOn Friday 3 June, on a beautiful windless day, a plumber, a DOC worker and two volunteers were flown in to finish off the long awaited installation of the fireplace flue, taking about seven hours. Also two new tables and seats were brought in, as the previous table was too large for the floor space because of the new hearth. One table sports a checkerboard engraved into the top of it, along with sets of homemade wooden checkers provided! A good tidy job was done on the fireplace and flue and all were happy the job had been finally been finished off. Thanks to the Waimea Tramping Club volunteers - Robert, Andrew, Donald, Chris and Geoff; and the DOC Motueka staff - Matt, Stu and Pete. Also thanks to Henni and Daniel from Henning Plumbing & Gas, and Toby of Reid Helicopters.
Nelson TC are leading a project funded by the Outdoor Recreation Consortium to relocate the 6-bunk Mt Fell Hut in Mt Richmond Forest Park. The hut was closed in March 2015 because it was found to be located on an active slip.
On Thursday 2 June 2016 an RNZAF NH90 helicopter was used to lift the 1.7 tonne hut onto temporary piles about 250m southeast of the original site. Then at Labour weekend four Nelson TC members and one Waimea TC member were helicoptered in for two solid days of work, along with some minor assistance from five other Nelson TC members who tramped in to the hut, the five hours from Timms Creek. The pile holes were dug and the piles concreted in and the hut was then moved down slope from its temporary piles 4-5 metres onto the new foundations and secured with various fasteners. Then the water tank was moved onto a temporary pad by the back of hut. The final clean-up was completed by the Monday morning and the whole party then walked back out to Timms Creek.
Another working bee is planned this summer 2016-2017 to complete the project. The jobs scheduled include repainting inside and out, installing a new wood burner, building a permanent stand for the water tank, installing a larger stainless steel bench and constructing a small woodshed.
A generous individual has donated $250,000-$300,000 to replace the antiquated basic 2-bunk Caroline Creek Bivvy in the St James Conservation Area with a 10-bunk standard hut. The hut is a popular stop for through-hikers on the trail and is located 7½ hours (20km) from Christopher Hut in the south or 9 hours (12km) from Blue Lake Hut in the north. The hut is at a strategic location, being the first hut for a southbound tramper after Waiau Pass, one of the highest crossings of the trail. The new hut will be built near the current hut and is expected to be finished by the end of summer 2016-2017.
Renovations at Balloon Hut in Kahurangi National Park are scheduled for the week Monday 14th to Friday 18th March 2016. A few club members are volunteering their help along with four DOC workers to finish the assembly of a woodshed and install a wood burner, replacing an ageing gas heater. Firewood will also be flown in to both Balloon Hut and Salisbury Lodge.
The club has a long history of involvement with Balloon Hut going back to the last major upgrade of the hut in February 1995. A major force in that project was Diana Reeves, club president at the time. After Diana’s passing in 2010 a bequest of $1000 from her was a major impetus for further improvements at the hut.
In 2013 a suggestion at a committee meeting was to offer to pay DOC $2600 to install a wood burner, hearth and flue. Although DOC accepted our offer, they did not have the extra funding for a woodshed. But after a meeting with DOC the club submitted an application to the Outdoor Recreation Consortium in February 2015 hoping to complete the project.
In March 2015 the club’s application was approved for the sum of $12,964. The club’s offer of funding had also increased from $2600 to $3000. The project started off with the prefabrication of the woodshed, completed over two days, on the 21st and 22nd of July 2015 at the DOC Motueka yard by four club members, at various times, helping DOC builder Stu Houston.
Recently Waimea Tramping Club applied to the Outdoor Recreation Consortium for funds to replace the aging gas fire in Balloon Hut, with a new wood burner. As a result of being successful with that application, as a first step, along with DOC Motueka, who will be overseeing the installation of the wood burner, a new woodshed needed to be built.
Tuesday and Wednesday, 21 - 22 July, three people on Tuesday and two on Wednesday from the club, went to Motueka DOC headquarters to assist with construction along with Stu Houston from DOC who did all the measuring and cutting of timber and supervised the construction. The job went particularly well, so we were at the stage where our input into the framing was done by Wednesday morning, leaving Stu to continue with the balance of framing for the roof purlins. The timber was very wet so will now be left to dry. In March 2016 the woodshed will be helicoptered in as a flat-pack and reconstructed. The gas fire will be removed and the wood burner, hearth and flue will then be installed. The club has decided upon a Pioneer wood burner the same as recently installed in Salisbury Lodge.
Those helping out were Geoff Walker, Chris Ecroyd, Robert Wopereis and Donald Younger.
Photo: Donald Younger and Geoff Walker working on Balloon Hut woodshed
Mt Fell Hut in Mt Richmond Forest Park was closed in mid-March 2015 because it has been found to be located on an active slip and is unsafe for occupation. This may affect trampers traversing Mt Fell and Mt Richmond.
Waimea Tramping Club has been successful in its application to the Outdoor Recreation Consortium for funding for renovations at Balloon Hut in Kahurangi National Park. The Round 2 application was approved in March 2015 with funding approved for $12.863.50 along with $3,000 from club funds. The funding will pay for the replacement of the gas heater with a new wood burner along with a flue, hearth and woodshed and associated costs such as a building consent.
Do you have any interesting stories to tell about the Mt Arthur or Tableland area?
Ray Salisbury from Nelson Tramping Club is in the long process of writing a new book with the working title of “Tales from the Tableland ... the history behind Mt Arthur”, and is hoping to gather more stories about the area.
Some tips for taking better photos for next year’s club photo competition:
1. Time of Day: Try shooting in the “golden hour” – just after dawn or just before sunset, when the light is better.
2. Camera Angle: Instead of taking photos at eye level, improve your camera angle by trying your photography at a lower level. Also try moving to a different camera position a few metres away.
3. The Rule of Thirds: If the sky is not the main interest, put the horizon one-third of the way down the photo, or if the sky is the main interest put the horizon two-thirds of the way down the photo.
4. Composition: For landscape shots try to include some foreground objects to give interest, such as tracks, rivers, boulders or fence lines.
5. Less is More: Fill the frame with the subject and don’t hesitate to crop a photograph if needed
6. Sharpness: Ensure your photos are sharp by using the correct settings, and for landscapes shots, prevent camera movement by resting the camera on a rock, a walking pole, or use a tripod.
The new book “Tramping, A New Zealand History” by Shaun Barnett and Chris Maclean has been added to the club’s small library of tramping books and is available for members to borrow.
The book was won by Peter Vella on behalf of the club from Radio Live, on the Karyn and Andrew evening show.
A book promotion quiz on Friday 17 October involved callers having to answer a question on which is a tramping biscuit out of Anzac, Afghan, Oat or Tararua.
Peter was called back and advised he had won the book and Andrew asked about the club, where the club went, how active the club is, and if we carry safety gear etc.
He also asked Peter what is his favourite hut. The answer was Angelus!! A good promotion for the club.