Elcho Hut Work Party June 2022
The North Otago Section NZAC built Elcho Hut, in the Hopkins valley, in 1938. The section has carried out regular maintenance traditionally scheduled around the winter solstice. The timing gives the best chance of 4WD access as the freezing temperatures generally mean the river levels are low. The Hopkins river has a reputation for swallowing vehicles.
The 2022 annual work party took place last weekend, less than a week after one of the biggest winter storms in the last 20 years. We were concerned the low snow levels (or subsequent snow melt) might prevent us getting to the hut, but our fears were unfounded. The work parties have been increasingly popular over the last few years and we had 18 people arrive at the hut by lunchtime on Saturday. Many of our active members now have families, and we encourage them to bring their children—these are our future volunteers. We also like to have along volunteers who have given their time at the local climbing wall. This year we had representation from six nations, a 50/50 gender balance, a 72 year age range, three generations of the Shearer family and the NZAC president.
The hut remains in fine condition, but is always in danger of being overwhelmed by the surrounding beech forest. This year we trimmed some trees that were becoming a risk and restocked the hut woodshed. Bait stations in and outside the hut were replenished; hopefully this will curtail the rodent population seeking refuge from the cold. The hut was cleaned, toilet capacity measured (we might be looking at volunteers to dig a new hole in an estimated two years!) and exterior cladding checked.
As usual, the Saturday night dinner was a feast with toasts and several courses. We have volunteers helping run children’s climbing sessions at the local climbing wall and they are given vouchers as koha. These vouchers paid for most of the kai for the weekend. Big thanks to the helpers on this fun weekend and we wish users many happy nights in the hut.
Report by Nick Shearer