Maud Hut – Nelson Lakes National Park2022 12 04 Maud Hut

Sunday 4 December 2022

On a fine day a large group of 22 trampers visited Maud Valley, located between Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoroa. This valley was the richest goldfield in the Howard area, with mining carried out during the 1930s depression and then between 1967 and 1993. Only a few mining relics now remain, as well as two decaying huts.

We travelled 1km up the Howard Valley and parked beside a gate. With the farmer’s permission to cross farmland, we followed a farm track, which soon climbed to a terrace then immediately back down to avoid a washout, then along to the first of multiple crossings of Maud Creek.

After leaving the farmland we carried along the 4WD track and passed through patches of bush beside the pleasant creek to reach an old sawmill after 30 minutes, apparently still used once per year as a special family occasion. Then we negotiated a section of rough, flood-channel creek bed still used by 4WD vehicles.

After some more creek crossings we emerged from the bush onto a beautiful grassy valley. Barely 200m wide, this stretches for 2½ km with splendid views up to Robert Ridge. Partway we came upon a large four metre high rock in the middle of the valley. Attached to the rock was a small rusty sign with an amusing message saying: “Please do not shift this rock. There is no gold underneath. We have looked.” On top of the rock was an old digger bucket engraved with the names of some goldminers, as some sort of dedication for all their work.

Three minutes further along we turned right and crossed the creek to a very dilapidated hut. This hut is not obvious and can easily be missed, but is just visible through the trees. Haigh’s Hut was built by George Haigh in the early 1930s and is also known as Maud Hut, and is built of split beech slabs, roof framing of saplings and a roof of shingles covered with corrugated iron. We checked inside but sadly it is derelict and unusable. A few minutes further up on the edge of the bush was an old brick fireplace, maybe the last remnants of another old hut, then back across the creek we came upon a rusty old excavator used by the goldminers.

Ten minutes further along at the head of the valley we reached Maud Valley Hut after 2½ hours from the start, our main destination for the day. This large private hut is unlocked but is quite ramshackle and uninviting, containing old furniture including a couple of double beds, a sofa, a table, chairs and cupboards.

After lunch all except seven of us carried on for 30 minutes up through the bush beside Maud Creek. While we did not find any track, the going was easy enough to make good progress before it became rougher. We returned to the hut and then we all returned straight down the valley.

This is definitely a wet-boot-trip, counting 17 creek crossings on the return and with about three people getting somewhat wet on the day while slipping over during creek crossings. We still enjoyed an interesting day, a new trip for the club.

The group was Robert (leader and scribe), Maria, Rob, Karen, Roy, Paula G, Jo, Chris, Arif, Donald, Pauline, Tony, Lesley J, Donell, Marian and visitors Jan, Tessa and Jane. Also Patrick, Tomomi, Sabrina and Kazusa from the English Language Centre.