Job: Paint Half Way Hut inside and out
Volunteer Hours: approximately 65 hours
On the 17th Feburary 2023, the Permolat Southland team of John McDonald, Garth Lornie, Karen Nicholson, Hayden Cohen and Greg Wilson met at Fiordland Helicopters hanger to load up a very shiny blue Squirrel helicopter, with pails of paint, boxes of food, paint brushes & rollers and packs, and of course, a ladder. We then all piled into the helicopter and set off to Halfway Hut.
We flew over the mountains, along Lake Monowai (past Eel Creek hut which Permolat Southland worked on last year) to Halfway Hut which was basked in sunshine.
Halfway hut is a 12 bunk hut, 4-6 hours tramp from the Lake Hauroko end of the Dusky track. It has just had a new roof put on it in December, and a new fireplace installed and our team was to go in and give it a paint makeover.
On the outside, a lot of the paint was bubbling off the galvanised tin, so quite a bit of prep work was needed before we could start painting. Thankfully the sandflies didn’t get the memo that we had arrived until later in the evening when tired trampers started to appear, burdened with their heavy packs. The hut was a noisy one that night, with 10 of us in the hut, complete with some snorers, multi-national sleep-talkers and card players.
Saturday we waved the trampers off and got down to painting the inside and out of the hut – Hayden brought his solar panel and UE boom so there was even tunes. Again the weather was fantastic and we got 2 coats of paint on the outside – a beautiful lichen colour and a bit of a sweat up too as the friendly locals were so very persistent the outside crew had to paint in full coverup gear (including John who even bought a head net!) Meanwhile, the inside crew painted their way around the bunks, benches and signs. Inside was quite light and warm, thanks to the new skylights and the new coats of paint.
Sunday was a wet day, so we swept out the hut and polished up the T&G floor with boiled linseed oil, which came up well. It wasn’t all work either – There was quite a bit of eating, yarning, swimming in a very cold river and deer stalking.
Monday we packed up and tramped down to Hauroko Burn hut on the edge of Lake Hauroko. Some of us took 4 hours and others 6 hours.
You should have seen the look on the faces when it was mentioned we had to carry the ladder for about an hour each to get it back to the vehicles – thankfully the ladder got to stay at the hut!! The wee bit of rain had made the track a bit softer than it had been but apparently still very dry to what it usually is. It was pretty hot and humid on the tramp out (it didn’t make the swim any warmer though), and we were picked up in the afternoon by Wairaurahuri Jet and transported back across the lake.
We also stopped and checked up on Caroline Hut, which Permolat Southland renovated a few years ago.
No deer spotted on the trip, but saw kea, bellbirds, robins and grey warblers and trout, and some native orchids were spotted on the way out.
Big thanks to DOC and Backcountry Trust who entrusted us with the job, our transport Fiordland Helicoptors and Wairaurahuri Jet getting us safely to and fro, and Backcountry Cuisine who kindly keep us well fed.
Finally – massive thanks to our volunteers for this trip – John, Garth, Karen, Hayden and Greg. Thank you all for your contribution (and for John sharing his wifes fantastic biscuits!) Awesome team work, excellent chefing, interesting conversations and all round fun!