Eyes Above The Waves

Robert O'Callahan. Christian. Repatriate Kiwi. Hacker.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Crosbie's Hut

Around this time last year I took my children to the Pinnacles hut and since then I've wanted to take them on a similar trip again. The Auckland region doesn't have many huts suitable for a one-night overnight tramp --- the Waitakere and Hunua Ranges, and Gulf islands, have many good campsites but no huts --- so I set my sights on Crosbie's Hut, in the same general area as the Pinnacles, near Thames on the Coromandel Peninsula. Unfortunately it's been difficult to get away --- weekends have been very busy, or the weather forecast has been poor, or the hut's been fully booked! This weekend we finally made it.

We entered at the Tapu-Coroglen Road, a bit more than two hours' drive from Auckland, where a track heads south to meet up with tracks from the coast at Te Puru and Waimoa and then to Crosbie's Clearing and the hut. I chose this route because I thought it might be a little easier to start higher above sea level, and because I thought walking across ridges might be less muddy than going up the valleys. It was still rather muddy! I sank in up to my knee at one point which caused some anxiety in the group. The nominal time from the road to the hut was 4 1/2 hours and we took almost exactly that each way. It's very much a tramping track, not a walking track and there's a lot of up-and-down.

We had a wonderful time. The weather was great, mostly very clear, and the hut is quite new and very well designed. The trampers arriving before us had started up the hut's wood-burning heating stove which was much appreciated. The view from the hut is superb and omnidirectional. To the west you can see the Firth Of Thames, to the east Whitianga and the Pacific Ocean. The night sky was scintillating.

One delight of bringing the kids is the interest and approval shown by other trampers. I guess it's not very common for kids as young as mine to be taken tramping, but the older trampers think it's great that I'm passing it on! (Though I'm not really passing it on, I'm learning myself!)

The other trampers at Crosbie's were all very experienced so I asked them a few questions. Most huts collect rainwater in tanks, and the Department of Conservation officially encourages people to boil or treat water used for drinking, but I haven't seen anyone do that yet. One guy I asked said he's never treated water at any of the DoC huts he's stayed at (even when taking it from a stream) and nothing's happened to me yet". Hmm.


The literature seems to be sparse, but most water in the wild seems to have few enough parasites in it that they're not actually a problem. I'd be sort of worried about standing water in rain barrels, and I can see why the government would advise one to treat the water, but the risks are probably low. I did treat snowmelt on Mt. Shasta in California last week, but I didn't feel like it was mandatory. Running water could also have problems due to being downstream from a pollution source. Probably not a problem in NZ in a conservation area.
I'll definitely treat water coming from a stream that's run through farmland or human-inhabited areas. I'll probably not treat water that's been collected from hut roofs in tanks, or from springs. In between those, I'm not sure.
The problem with farmland is that treating water isn't quite enough to get rid of water-soluble pesticides. Link: www.epa.gov/oppfead1/trac/science/water_treatment.pdf Best to not drink water if it's downstream from farmland. Mountains are good for that: there aren't too many farms at high elevation.
Jeff Walden
A fair number of people on the Appalachian Trail, and on the John Muir Trail, didn't treat their water. Some did fine. Others...well, I met one guy who got infected by giardia, and I met another guy who contracted dysentery and had to visit a hospital three times before they figured out what was up (the last time, his liver was close to shutting down). I treat my water, thankyouverymuch. Water purification doesn't weigh much, and it doesn't take up much space. But it's probably belt-and-suspenders in most places. If I really need water and can't treat it quickly enough, I'm not going to lose too much sleep over drinking it untreated.
Always treat your water, possums and birds pollute roof water into the tank, you might be lucky most of the time then there is the time you are not and believe me you won't forget it.
Rachael Wright
I am doing this tramp in a few weeks with my 2 kids aged 5 and 8... how old are your kids?? Do you think its doable with a 5 year old? (she managed the Pinnacles with no problems)
My kids are a bit older than that, but I think if you did the Pinnacles you can do Crosbie's. Crosbie's is muddier, but it's been so dry for so long it's probably a great time to do it :-).