Carlyle Hut

10 – 11 October 2020.

Plan A was a trip up the Lawrence River, but when the weather didn’t play ball, I suggested visiting the newly restored 8 bunk Carlyle hut in the Lake Sumner Forest Park, thinking we’d have no major rivers to cross and the weather nearer the east looks better. The New Zealand Conservation Trust commenced the restoration with a track trim in 2017, using Backcountry Trust funding. The hut was in a shockingly dilapidated state prior to their contributions. The restored hut and tidied track have helped the volunteers better deliver their predator trapping programme they are running in this area. These volunteers, who are committed to the protection the picturesque valley’s birdlife, completed the work in 2019.

Murray (leader), Ian and Darcey were happy with that idea so on Murray’s request I contacted the Glenhope Wye Station and met with success. Murray was surprised as the station owner is renowned for limiting access. I was asked three times if we were planning on hunting. Apparently, they do not like hunters. I got his wife who pushed her rentable hunting hut on me. “sure thing” I replied, “I’ll put that on my list for next time”. Nah, rather I’d bag DoC huts thanks.

We travelled up on Saturday morning and were walking by midday. It’s only a 4 hour easy going well-maintained track with a bit of up and down travel. Carlyle Stream meanders dreamily through the lichen draped beech forest making numerous photo stops inevitable. The Conservation Trust NZ is making good progress with their predator control as we heard Grey warblers and Tomtits, but the valley also has Yellow-crowned Parakeets and South Island Robin.

While we had our parka’s on for the some of the time, it only drizzled minimally. We reached the hut by 4pm, and I quickly lit the fire with plans to heat the 2kg of steamed treacle pudding in the steamer container that I’d carried in. Murray and Darcey came out of the bunkroom after unpacking and congratulated Ian on his fire-lighting skills!! Typical!!. Ian put them right as to who the pyromaniac was. I gently warmed the pudding with a cunning double boiler arrangement I set up over a large billy I found at the hut. Refreshments and snacks around the fire quickly saw Darcey recounting tales from his past travels and time spent living in the Pacific.

Murray made an excellent job of preparing one of Kerry Moore’s delicious lemon dahl curries for our main course, which gave plenty of time for the pud to heat through. While doubling the recipe seemed a little excessive at the time of making, at serving time when I suggested I just quarter the pud, there were no complaints or suggestions otherwise. With LASHINGS of thickened cream and hot custard, it all went down a treat and nothing was left over. Then we all had to take a little lie down to recover. More great conversations around the fire before finally drooping eyelids took us to off to our pits to sleep like the dead. A nice bone-warming fire, good company and full tummies does that.

Next day Darcy was up and ready to go shortly after 6am to Ian’s horror as he still quietly enjoying coffee in bed! The walk out was relaxed with no complaints over covering the same ground again. With such a pretty spot it’s just as enjoyable seeing it I all again but from the other way.

We were: Liz & Ian Wightwick, Darcy Mawson, Murray Hight (leader) (LW)

Carlyle Hut. Photo courtesy of Liz Wightwick

Carlyle Stream. Photo courtesy of Liz Wightwick