New ski touring route planned, resource consent now sought

Ski tourers could be gliding along a new route between Coronet Peak and Treble Cone skifields by next winter.

Details of the 45km route and five alpine huts are in a resource consent application lodged with the Queenstown Lakes District Council last week.

The Mahu Whenua Traverse will run along the backbone of the Harris Mountains, crossing Coronet Peak Station and public conservation land.

The man behind it, Arrowtown adventurer Erik Bradshaw, said he would soon form a club to build and manage the huts, which were four-bunk "Turk" huts of his own design.

Since unveiling the proposal in the Otago Daily Times last December, he had made several trips into the area "stomping around" looking for the best sites.

The sites chosen were on Coronet Saddle, Vanguard Peak, Mt St Just, Mt Hyde and Motatapu Saddle.

The application, prepared by Boffa Miskell, said the huts and separate toilet structures required consent because they would sit on an outstanding natural landscape, and indigenous vegetation would need to be cleared to build their foundations.

They would have "less than minor" adverse effects on the landscape because of their small scale and "recessive" colour.

The insulated and double-glazed four-bunk huts would be built in Arrowtown and flown by helicopter to their sites.

They would have rainwater tanks and solar panels to power a light and electronic charging station.

Each hut would be accompanied by a long-drop toilet in a separate structure.

Managed by an online booking system, the huts would be used by members of the Mountain Turk Club, either for the winter ski traverse or tramping in the warmer months.

However, they would remain unlocked and available for use as emergency shelters, the application said.

The land's leaseholder and the Commissioner of Crown Lands have given the proposal their approval.

Mr Bradshaw said a sixth hut, which had been near Mt Sale for the past two years, had been included in the application, but was not part of the skiing route.

Easily accessible from Arrowtown, it would be available for use by
club members.

He expected construction of the huts would begin within six weeks, and they would be airlifted to their sites by the end of the coming summer.

The club's founding meeting would be held in Queenstown some time next month, he said.

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