Tramping club choppers up Kaikoura Range to check on Hodder Huts
A secluded tramping hut in the upper reaches of the Kaikoura Range has survived the 7.8-magnitude earthquake relatively unscathed.
A team of four from the Marlborough Tramping Club hailed a helicopter to inspect the condition of the Hodder Huts from Omaka Airfield, near Blenheim, on Sunday afternoon.
Club member Steve Dyer said the team was pleased to discover only minor damage to the supports of one water tank.
"There were quite a few slips we saw on the way up, mostly small but one or two larger ones, but the huts are sound," he said.
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"It's a big relief," he said.
The Marlborough Tramping Club owned the Hodder Huts, two huts with a capacity of 18 bunks, and wanted to confirm their condition.
Club member Bill Woollcombe said the huts were lucky after last month's quake destroyed the two-bunk Barratts Bivvy in the Mt Fyffe and Seaward Kaikoura Range.
"I stayed there earlier in the year and now it's covered by over 100 metres of rock," he said.
"It's unfortunate, it was a beautiful little bivvy."
The team wanted to chopper up to check on tracks along Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku but cloud cover ruled that out.
People tramping at the moment were understandably cautious but the activity remained safe, Woollcombe said
"It's basically a changed environment, you have to respect it and adjust to it," he said.
Trampers who came across slips or rocks should be sure to test the ground and make sure it could support their weight, Woollcombe said.
A working bee was planned to fix the tank supports as well as repaint the hut in February.
Department of Conservation recreation and historical projects supervisor Matt Flynn said trampers needed to be wary of how the earthquake had impacted the landscape.
"There are whole new lands out there, it's like a new patch," he said.
"People need to realise that if they are out in back country there are rockfalls all the time."
DOC had inspected a number of Marlborough tracks with closures centred in areas closest to the quake, Flynn said.
Sawcut Gorge in Ward, a popular track with tourists and locals alike, remained closed.
"It's not butt-covering, there is real potential for catastrophic events in those areas," he said.
Trampers needed to keep an eye on weather conditions and not waste time in places of danger from rockfall, Flynn said.
Information on track conditions were available from the DOC website.
- The Marlborough Express