Remote mountain hut at risk
The future of Gardiner Hut on Aoraki/Mt Cook is uncertain after it was hit by a rock avalanche.
The rockfall struck on South Ridge and swept down the Noeline Glacier and over Pudding Rock, where the Gardiner Hut sits.
It was reported by a pilot on Tuesday.
An aerial inspection revealed the remote alpine hut which sits above the Hooker Glacier had been moved off its foundations.
DOC services manager Mike Davies said the department was now working with GNS Science to assess the stability of the area.
This will enable it to carry out a more detailed investigation of the rockfall and the damage.
He said it was now assessing the future of the tin hut which was erected in 1977 and can sleep about eight people.
DOC said there were no records of visitors to the area at the time of the avalanche and aerial investigations did not indicate anyone had been caught in the incident.
The area affected is in a remote location used only by experienced alpine climbers.
Davies said the conditions on that part of the mountain had not been easy, with a couple of groups of climbers having had to turn back.
Davies said they will not know the extent of the damage until the GNS report is completed.
"Until that assessment is complete, we are asking that people keep out of the Noeline Glacier region of the upper Hooker Valley."
He said the last such event occurred 18 months ago in the Mt Dixon/Mt Haast area.
The cause of the avalanche was also unknown, however, there was significant seismic activity on Monday night which may have contributed to the activity.
The Hooker Track is unaffected.
The Timaru Herald