Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Huts 04 - The Crow Valleys

In the Canterbury region especially, every tramper serves his or her apprenticeship gaining obligatory blisters tramping up the Waimak from Klondyke Corner near Arthur's Pass.
Back in the 1960s I used to tramp up to Carrington - and beyond - every two to three weeks. Easter was a classic time to be in the valley. Back the the CMC used to hold it's annual Easter Camp there. Invariably almost every mountain in the region was summited by at least several pairs of tricounied boots!
I well remember finding myself walking alongside John Pascoe chatting away as we walked up the riverbed in the moonlight to Anti Crow hut. One afternoon I trekked back up to Temple Col to search for the bum strap off my Mountain Mule pack, then returning to the the Pass and walking down the railway line to Klondyke and then up to Anti Crow hut, arriving about 1am - only to return downriver first thing the next morning.
Approximately 1.5 hours up river from Klondyke Corner, two major rivers enters the Waimak directly opposite each other - on the true left is the Crow River and on the true right, the Anti Crow river.
This area was well huttted. The CMC hut at the Anti Crow, CMC's Gizeh Biv in the headwaters of the Anti Crow, the NZAC hut at the head of the Crow - and the six bunk NZFS hut on the Waimak flats 15 minutes downstream of the Anti Crow.

Anti Crow hut (circa late 1960s)
 Sometime in the 1970s the CMC relinquished ownership of the Anti Crow hut to the Arthurs Pass National Park. This was to take effect on 1st January. Sadly, on the evening of 31st December, the hut burned down after hot embers fell through a hole in the floor from the open fire. Purely an accident, but most unfortunate timing.

Anti Crow hut after the fire
The Crow hut was owned by the New Zealand Alpine Club. It was replaced by a new hut in the 1980s.

The old Crow hut in the late 1970s - my daughter Rachael
The new Crow hut
Back over to the Anti Crow Valley, Gizeh Bivi at the head of the valley was always a favourite place of mine. On the edge of the bush line, the bivi was nestled into the bush right next to a large tree - a tree which was to be the bivi's demise. In a big storm the tree toppled a fell through the bivi, crushing it totally. Fortunately, no-one was inside at the time. It was never replaced. It was built of old tea cases - pressed tin. There were several of these bivis dotted around the APNP. Sadly none remain now. There were no bunks - just tussock on the floor.

Gizeh Bivouac
So there you have it. In three blogs I've chatted about all the huts in the Waimakariri Valley, within the bounds of the APNP.


  1. Great photo of the old Gezeh Bivvi. I suppose those old pressed tin tea box tiles are all gone now - they would make great collectors' items for the likes of us, John. Maybe the earthquake unearthed some of them from about Christchurch? All great memories. Here is a memory I wrote a few years ago!

    When we came down the Waimakariri we’d been short of food for a couple of days, it was cold and wet, we’d been going for two hours and we hadn’t had any breakfast. We stopped at Anti-Crow Hut to have a break from the weather and found, in a corner of the hut, an old camp oven half full of what seemed to be solid tallow or mutton fat. A search of the hut, which seemed to have been vacated recently by hunters revealed a good quantity of flour, sugar, cocoa and some baking powder. It didn’t take much imagination! We had time up our sleeves and soon had a good fire going and the camp oven sitting on the embers. While the fat melted and heated we set about the mixture. We just threw the ingredients together in what we imagined would be the right proportions. As soon as the fat was hot enough we dropped our prepared doughboys into the fat and watched them grow. When they had developed a golden crust we fished them out with the No8 wire toaster and set them to drain on the hearth. As soon as they had cooled enough we devoured them. They were warm, chocolate sweet with enough satisfying fat and a warm golden colour on the outside; enough to make William Carlos Williams write another apologetic note. They were fantastic. Better than fish and chips! As they say, hunger makes the best sauce.

  2. Hi John,

    All the huts? Did you mention the old Greenlaw Hut?


  3. Glad you too have good memories of Anti Crow hut.
    And OMG, yes - Greenlaw hut. Blimey, I forgot. And I do have an image of that hut. Plus, I'd better include Bealey Spur hut. Watch this space BB.

  4. great photos. will look forward to the Greenlaw and Bealey Spur hut photos. btw there is a memorial at the site of the original burned down hut on their surviving cement steps.

  5. great photos. will look forward to the Greenlaw and Bealey Spur hut photos. btw there is a memorial at the site of the original burned down hut on their surviving cement steps.