Aspiring Hut Refurbishment November Update

The Aspiring Hut refurbishment is progressing well. As with any building project, getting out of the ground provided a few unanticipated challenges that required some quick thinking on the part of the designers and builders. There was a step in the original foundation, below ground height, that was unknown until earthworks started. This had to be accounted for and required some re-engineering of the foundation. Luckily it didn’t affect the CLT panels, as that design was already locked in and manufacture was well underway in Australia!

The steel reinforcing that went into the foundation was impressive and took a little longer to form up than we had anticipated. These two things coupled with concrete not being available exactly when needed has meant the project is running a little behind schedule. However, at this stage, it isn’t of great concern to us as we expected some slippage for unknown situations.

Foundation works
Foundation work

A mammoth effort by the builders, concrete trucks and Aspiring Helicopters saw the concreting completed in two days in a precision operation. Pouring concrete is tricky at the best of times, but is made more difficult when trucks have to travel to a remote location, load the concrete into a hopper under a helicopter and then fly it into a remote valley to the awaiting builders … in the rain! But the team managed this with no incidents other than a concrete covered radio. With over 100 helicopter loads and a turnaround of seven minutes this was an amazing piece of flying and ground support by Aspiring Helicopters and the builders. That they could achieve it without incident is testament to the planning and organisation of Karl Boomsma and his team of builders, and the excellent contractors who are working with them.

Aspiring Helicopter
Aspiring Helicopters bringing in the concrete to pour down a chute to the foundations

Since the foundation has been completed, the roof of the hut has been removed leaving just the stone walls standing. It was a sad looking sight, but as the CLT panels have begun to arrive on site the shape of the refurbished hut is quickly rising from ground. The floor is nearly complete and walls are being erected, giving a much better sense of the scale and feel of the revamped hut.

The floor is down
The floor is down
Walls Up
The walls are going up

The weather has been terrible at Aspiring for much of the last week, and while the tractor has managed to bring most of the panels up on the trailer through the river, for the first time in the project we were stopped by high flows. However, the builders wanted to continue on so a few of the floor panels were flown up to keep the job moving. Of course, with no roof, the building team are now working in some tricky conditions and have limited options for their breaks and after work, with the warden’s quarters, a mess tent and tiny sleeping bivvies the only shelter available at site.

This is a complex project which wouldn’t be possible without the commitment of our builders and sub-contractors. Especially to Karl Boomsma and his team of builders, we are truly thankful to have their support.

Of course, a large project like this also requires a lot of funding! We are still reasonably on budget, although our helicopter costs were more than anticipated. We are still working to a budget of $1.1 million and have fundraised nearly $1 million of this. However, we are still looking for the last $100,000 to complete the project. Anyone looking to donate can do so here Tūpiki Trust Aspiring Hut Donation, or at NZAC Aspiring Hut Donation or by direct deposit into the NZAC or Tupiki Trust accounts (contact the office for account details here). Also, please share this information widely. We know that people far beyond the NZAC love and use Aspiring Hut, so we would love to let them know what is happening too.

We thank our major funders on this project: Backcountry Trust (Kaimahi for Nature fund), Tūpiki Trust, Otago Community Trust, New Zealand Community Trust and of course the New Zealand Alpine Club.

It looks great, well done