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Burn Creek Bivvy | Part 1

Nelson College has a basic mountain lodge established 55 years ago that is now on the edge of the remote western side of Nelson Lakes National Park. Students were required to spend a week during the winter term up there, with two nights being out in the backcountry, whatever the weather conditions. We could choose our destination. Many parties walked for a few hours and put up their tent, then radioed in without extending their aerial.

I was in a group with the opposite attitude. Get as far as allowed. Have an adventure.

And that is how, as a 16-year-old, I was part of a group of boys that set off for Burn Creek Bivvy. We had an early start but cheated in that we were dropped off at the Matakitaki Base Hut, which has since been removed.

We powered the four hours on a functional four-wheel-drive track up to Downie Hut. After a short break, we crossed the large Matakitaki River on a swing bridge, now removed, and forged our way up Burn Creek on the Permolat marked New Zealand Forest Service track, getting to the bivvy just on dark.

Halfway up Burn Creek valley are some gold workings from the 1870s, then revived during the 1930s Depression.

We mucked around the following day, then returned after a second night.

Five guys in a tiny two-bunk bivvy. I slept on the stone floor.

This was a formative trip. I realised I enjoyed getting out into remote areas and challenging myself.

This adventurous spirit has stayed with me.

It took a few decades for me to return.

author | GJ Coop | posted | 08 January 2024
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