Ivory Lake

Our third trip to the remote huts on the West Coast of the South Island. Done one of these week long trips each of the past three years, this one was Anthony's choice. The route we choose to access Ivory Lake was the Waitaha valley, returning out the Mikonui.

The best references for this area are:
  • http://remotehuts.co.nz/huts/
  • The Canterbury Westland Alps by Yvonne Cook and Geoff Spearpoint
  • NZTopo50 maps BV17, BV18, BW17, BW18
For identifying fungi using Landcares Fungal Guide.

Road end drop and collection was with Hokitika Scenic Tours, thanks Rachel and Morris.

Whisky's of the trip, Anthony bought Lagavulin 16yo and I bought Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Scottish Barley heavily peated.
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Scottish Barley
Sunday 11/03/2018
Anthony picked me up from Motueka just before 0700 and we drove South, stopping for food at the Junction Cafe. Pretty good food and coffee, had to have seconds of both. Drove to Rachel's place to be driven to the start of our walk, the Waitaha valley road end.
Junction Cafe and Honey Center
Getting close
The walk along the Waitaha river is tedious especially when you see the farm track we could have walked down.
First bit of DOCWare
Waitaha valley
Waitaha river
Getting up away from the farm
The adventure begins at the swing bridge, then its typical West Coast river wander all the way to a creek crossing with the Kiwi Flat hut a hundred meters away.
swing bridge
Kiwi Flat
Start of Morgan gorge
Kiwi Flat
Kiwi Flat hut
Forest Service interior
The first evening was the time to eat the heaviest meal, which for me was a vegetarian MRE and a bag of rice. As the days went by the food got worse, so difficult to find decent freeze dry vegetarian food.

Monday 12/03/2018
Got to Moonbeam Hut at lunch time with the plan to keep going and bivvy out evaporating as we relaxed in a comfortable hut in a remote location. Very nice day was had relaxing.
Entoloma hochstetteri
Looking out over Kiwi Flat
Whio again
Waitaha River
Waitaha River
Moonbeam Hut
Food time, relax time, a book to read. Dried our cloths and collected firewood for the people who arrive in the cold rain that is sure to come.

Tuesday 13/03/2018
The day we both looked forward to as we had read much of the difficulties of traveling up Waitaha  valley.
Anthony ready to leave from Moonbeam Hut
The track from Moonbeam to the swing is a scrubby wee bash passing a dry rock shelter,  then out into the river for a bit.
Moonbeam track
Swing bridge over Waitaha River
Waitaha River
Once across the river and along a bit there is a slow wander uphill, then down to the river. As  you head down to Chinaman Creek there is a good view up the Waitaha.
View up Waitaha, dropping to Chinaman Creek
This is the section that we looked forward to, from Chinaman Creek to Top Waitaha Hut.

Boulders and pools
Anthony happy with the route
Waitaha River travel
Waitaha River travel
Waitaha River travel
Waitaha River travel
Waitaha River travel
Waitaha River travel
Waitaha River travel
Occasional bash thru the scrub
Add caption
Waitaha River travel
Waitaha River travel occasional easy meadow
Waitaha River travel
Waitaha River travel
Last bit to the hut is nice and gentle.
Out of the river, heading for the terrace
Top Waitaha Hut
Another pair of whio in the river near the hut.
Whio in the Waitaha
Wednesday 14/03/2018
This was a short day as it is not far or difficult from to Ivory Lake hut.
Flats after leaving Top Waitaha hut
We walked up the river a bit then crossed Reid Creek and headed up onto the tussock benches, which apart from the occasional stab from spaniard was a relaxing walk. Views kept getting better. Pity about the changing weather.
Heading up onto the terraces
Stag Creek
Stag Creek
Stag Creek
Layered rocks
Ivory Lake outflow
Not far to Ivory from here
Ivory Lake Hut
Lake and glacier
Anthony enjoying a whisky
Lake view from hut
It was great to be at Ivory Lake hut and celebrate with a whisky in the old arm chair.

Thursday 15/03/2018
A hut bound day at Ivory Lake hut reading the old hut book and the book on the history of the hut, while listening to the rain falling. The hut has seen some excellent maintenance and is well insulated.
Ivory Lake hut in cloud
Low cloud and more water pouring into the lake
Rain on the window
Sleeping was a major part of the day.

Friday 16/03/2018
The weather cleared by the early afternoon, as Anthony expected, so much better to have views across the tops.
Ivory Lake hut and no rain
Ivory Lake and glacier
Looking back at the hut
Back down the Waitaha Valley
Ivory Glacier and lake
Low cloud rolling in
Anthony heading up
Last view of Ivory Lake
Ridge starting to mist out
Top stones
Anthony on the top
When we started downhill it all went downhill in more ways than one, the lack of visibility made route finding not so easy. 
Off down the other side with no views
From here we were concentrating on route finding so much that we stopped taking photos, as we had to sidle a bit to find a nice obvious ridge to get us down into the tussock.
Looking down the Tuke valley, can see the hut
Slowly getting closer
The shape of sleep to come
Top Tuke Hut
The last few kilometers where much slower going than expected, especially when we lost more than an hour heading into the wrong fork. Hut was made easy to find in the dark because of a nice big orange triangle.

Saturday 17/03/2018
We left Top Tuke hut having had a relaxing sleep after yesterdays longer than expected day. Good weather and good views.
Top Tuke hut
Looking back up the valley we could see the way we came and the mistake we made the previous day. Sawtooth is the obvious ridge on the right, with the tributary below it.
The head of the Tuke
Off down the Tuke river,  stopping for an early lunch, and seeing blue ducks just before we got out of the river to head up to Dickie Spur hut.
Tuke river downstream from Top Tuke hut
Some fungi?
Possibly Hebe salicifolia
Where there a pair of Whio in every river, or was this the same pair or and they followed us the whole trip.
Another plant to learn
And another
Map has a track marked on it heading up a ridge, not so, the gully to the left of the ridge is the way.
Red line is track
The way is a nice easy route up a creek which climbs steadily to the tussock, it has orange markers occasionally, the way is obvious as it takes the easiest creek at every fork.
Up the creek
Onto the tussock
Looking back up the Tuke
East towards the coast
Once up on the tops it was the easy travel to Dickie Spur hut.
Dickie Spur hut door
Nice place to relax and great views with cell phone reception, and a few weka's in the vicinity looking for handouts.
Evening view as light was going
Sunday 18/03/2018
Today is our "out to the road end" day, with a 2.00pm pickup at Mikonui road end. The walk from the tops down to where it flattened out just before Truran Pass was good going, then we hit tree fall. There is quite a bit of tree fall from here to the Tuke River, lots of opportunities to loose the track. In this section we saw many specimens of Entoloma hochstetteri. The other fungi of note was a little red one possibly Mycena viscidocruenta.
Entoloma hochstetteri
Possibly Mycena viscidocruenta
Mikonui Flat Hut
Looking back, we came from the valley on the right
This historic homestead is a hut to bag, so we had a look and consider it private, due to the chain and lock on the door.
Historic Mikonui Flat homestead
The DOCware on. this trip was almost non-existent which for me its more enjoyable to not see lots of "go this way" and "you are here".
Mikonui Track start, our end
Got picked up here by Hokitika Scenic Tours, good option for getting dropped off and picked up at the road ends this region. Black hut is the last bag on the way out.
Black Hut
Location and Height Profile
Anthony recorded the whole trip on his GPS, imported the gpx file into Google Earth.
Info on elevation from Google Earth

Trip Times
Sunday 11/03/2018
0653 Left Motueka, headed South, stopped for food and coffee at Kumara
1345 Got dropped off by Rachel from 
1725 Swing Bridge
1748 Kiwi Flat hut
Monday 12/03/2018
0811 Left Kiwi flat hut
9855 Headlong spur turnoff
1101 Into the river
1246 Moonbeam hut
Tuesday 13/03/2018

0738 Left Moonbeam hut
0839 County turnoff
0841 Swingbridge
1056 Basecamp
1644 Top Waitaha hut
Wednesday 14/03/2018
0917 Left Top Waitaha hut
1203 Arrived Ivory Lake hut
Thursday 15/03/2018
Hut day due to weather
Friday 16/03/2018
1304 Left Ivory Lake hut
1457 On top of 1870m
1532 On top of 2084m
1612 Heading down  
2103 Arrived Top Tuke hut
Saturday 17/03/2018
1009 Left Top Tuke hut
1155 Stopped for lunch
1235 On again
1341 Heading up the creek
1526 Out of creek
1624 Dickie Spur Hut
Sunday 18/03/2018
0706 Left Dickie Spur Hut
1143 Mikonui Flat Hut
1227 Left Mikonui Flat Hut
1252 Historic Homestead
1315 Road end

Huts Bagged
  1. Kiwi Flat Hut
  2. Moonbeam Hut
  3. Top Waitaha Hut
  4. Ivory Lake Hut
  5. Top Tuke Hut
  6. Dickie Spur Hut
  7. Mikonui Flat Hut
  8. Historic Mikonui Flat homestead
  9. Black Hut