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Flyable huts . . . A new NZ Alpine Club hut, located further up the Tasman Valley from Ball Hut (left) is set to be in place next summer. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

A new hut is $10,000 closer to joining the ranks of other backcountry shelters in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.

The New Zealand Alpine Club’s Beetham Hut project has received a $10,000 grant from the Community Trust of Mid and South Canterbury, as part of its latest round of funding.

New Zealand Alpine Club general manager Karen Leacock said the money would be added to fundraising efforts for shifting the hut into its eventual location above the moraine wall on the eastern side of the Tasman Glacier, in the Beetham Valley.

She said the trust was “really happy” to have received the grant from the trust.

The hut was being built in Oamaru and although it was “almost built”, Mrs Leacock did not expect it would be installed this year as the cooler weather began.

“We’re hoping for next summer.”

The old hut was destroyed in an avalanche in the 1990s and had not been replaced.

Mrs Leacock said the four-bunk bivouac’s location would make the “very long, long walk” for trampers and climbers accessing the upper Tasman Glacier, the Malte Brun Range or crossing the Main Divide a bit more bearable.

Other huts in the area include the 14-bed Tasman Saddle Hut and the 22-bed Kelman Hut, both located further up the Tasman Valley, along with the Onslow and Liebig Huts in the neighbouring Murchison Valley.

The NZAC’s Murchison Hut, to the east of the Tasman Saddle and Kelman huts, would remain closed until it underwent more assessments of its surroundings, Mrs Leacock said.

It is just one of several huts that have been closed or removed over the past decade, due to risks which include fragile moraine faces and other geographical issues.

The design of Beetham Hut was also taking the national park’s “changing landscapes” into consideration, Mrs Leacock said.

It was “flyable”, meaning that if the terrain around the hut became unsuitable in the future, it could be shifted to a safer location.

“Huts don’t have the life expectancy they used to,” she said.