Image: Sarah Wilcox | Creative Commons
In 1875 there was a major attempt to move settlers into the area. At that time 12 families lived on the banks of the Smoothwater River. Two years later all the families had moved on, driven away by wet weather, swampy soil, big rivers and the lack of a wharf.
In 1972 the site was a deer-hunting base and the Stafford Hut was flown in. Carcasses were stored in a freezer beside the hut and flown out regularly by helicopter.
NZTopo50 map sheet: BY10
Grid/NZTM2000 coordinates: E1242801, N5118901
Before you go, buy 1 Standard Hut Ticket (blue for adults, yellow for youth) for each night's stay. Put this in the honesty box at the hut. Or buy a Backcountry Hut Pass that gives unlimited use at most Standard and Serviced huts for a 6 or 12-month period.
Waterways on the West Coast rise and fall very quickly and you are advised not to attempt crossing any waterway in heavy rain. Wait until water levels drop before proceeding.