Avoca Hut

Avoca Hut: Photo Kerry Clapham 2016

For more information email avocahut@cutc.org.nz

Maintenance Status

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.


Craigieburn Forrest Park, Avoca River catchment, Topo50 map sheet BV20, E1472169, N5232080. CUTC’s Avoca Hut is located at the head of the Avoca River, a tributary of the Harper River. The upper Avoca River is a beautiful, rugged spot ringed by the peaks of the Tobacco and Black Ranges, Mts Gizeh, Avoca, Damfool and Greenlaw, while the lower Avoca is characterised by large open river flats. Avoca Hut is one of the most remote huts in the Craigieburn/Arthurs Pass region.


Access to Avoca Hut from the Avoca Valley starts at the Lake Coleridge/Glenthorpe Station road. After crossing the Harper River road bridge, park at the locked gate. Contact Glenthorne Station in advance for access along the farm track on the true right of the Harper River. Pedestrian access is free, for vehicle access payment of $20.00 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 the Avoca as required to Basin Hut (DOC, 6 bunks) and beyond. About 1h upstream from Easy Creek the start of a short track (10min) is marked by cairns and orange triangles on the true right leading to a terrace in the forrest and Avoca Hut. Allow 8-10h (or more depending on river levels) from the road end to Avoca Hut. Travel is on a combination of unmarked new and old farm tracks, open river bed and a short section of track. There are several river crossings which can become impassable after heavy rain.

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.

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 and follow it past major flood debris to its junction with the Avoca River. See above for route from the junction to Avoca Hut. Tramping time 7-9h.

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 either drop down a spur and dirt slopes directly below the saddle or from the saddle climb towards Pt1800 to gain the gut draining the slopes above. Once in the creek bolder-hop to its junction with the Avoca River. See above for the route to the hut. Total tramping time 7-9h.


(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 911 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 and Times of Avoca Hut (pdf)

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 workpartys 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 club members gave the hut a major over hall, including replacing the floor, piles, studs, bottom plate, skylight, guttering and repaint. Further workpartys are scheduled through 2016 and in the 2016/17 summer period.

Repairs needed

In the short term installing flashing around the base of hut and a new door is needed, also felling of the mature beach tree(s) outside the window are a high priority. Other tasks that need doing around the hut are; replacing 2nd water tank valve, joining water tanks, construct water tank stand, leveling campsites, graveling exposed soil around bath, install bath tub instructions, replace mattress covers & candle holders, improve door step, bench seats would be a useful addition, alter table (make smaller/re-position) & install stainless steel cooking area, improve drainage around back of hut and loo, strengthen wood shed, paint wood shed and loo (including primer coat), investigate & possibly install the gutter guard on site, general vegetation clearance, re-cut surrounding tracks. In the long term re-cladding the hut (installing a new roof, flat iron walls & switching / adding a skylight to the north side) would make the hut more weather tight, vermin proof and brighter.

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 (<20 panel pins, <20 30mm galv flat heads, small pack of 75mm, 100mm), skylight roofing screws, #8 wire, 4L rescue orange paint, 4L desert sand paint, wood varnish, cement, pots and pans, spare plastic gutter, gutter guard. Also for an upcoming workparty we have had delivered 200 55mm tec screws,400mm x 15m flashing, metal primer (2L), wood primer (1L), gutter end cap (LH), 5 candle holders, tanks joining materials and a replacement valve.


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