Rumour has it that when it was built, DOCs hut budget for the year was exhausted. But there was plenty left in the fencing budget, so Greigs Hut, in the Leatham Conservation Park was built out of round posts and strainers.

It certainly looks like it!

The Mid Canterbury Club had travelled up the previous day via Molesworth, and were heading into the park, intending to camp at Greigs Hut for the night, when we joined them just before the turnoff into Leatham Road.

It was a busy weekend for the entire Leatham Forest area, with the Canterbury Jeep Club, Sulphur City 4WD Club all the way from Rotorua, the odd private truck, and the Mid Canterbury 4WD Club all “in town” for the weekend.

It was on Leatham Road that we met the Sulphur City crew, several of whom were on their way down to the Otago 4WD Groups Maniototo Muster, in a couple of weeks time.

On hearing about the amount of traffic up in the valley, the Mid Canterbury Club made the decision to head straight up Branch Ford Road, to claim the hut, and associated camping area for the night, so we went with them.

Turning off Leatham Road, and crossing the Leatham River, Branch Ford Road follows the Branch River through Native Beech Forest, along a reasonably well-formed track, with the odd creek crossing causing a bit of interest. These crossings are usually rocky, with steep, rough entries and exits.

It’s about 7kms each way, with the Beech Forest giving way at times to Manuka and Exotics, planted to try to remedy the damage caused by land clearance and grazing.

In fact, it is thought the hut was unofficially named after a Mr C Greig, also was responsible for planting most of the Exotics growing in the area today.

As with most of these DOC 4×4 tracks, it’s a dead-end, returning back the same way. Just past the hut the track ends in a rough, steep, climb to a lookout point above the campsite.

The track back we took alone, as the club were camping at the hut. It’s a comfortable, cruisy trip to take on solo, but in any case, we were soon joined by another couple who were “just out exploring” in their late model ute.

Just before the track joins the State Highway, it follows a crystal clear irrigation canal that opens onto the Argyle Pond. The road up beside the Pond makes a nice alternative to Leatham Road back to the tarseal.

WORDS BY JR, PICS BY DENA

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