Sam Davis leaving the Crown Basin Turk. This was before the most recent fall of snow.  Webcam:

Snow and winter bookings

There are still spaces available for the Mahu Whenua Traverse this winter:
July:  25,28
August:  6,18
September:  7,9,15,17,19,21,23,25,27,29
October:  2,4,6,8,10,12,14
Bookings can be made here:  Turk Booking – Mountain Turk Club

If you plan to book the traverse please make sure you are up to it and read the documents below. The month of July is the most dangerous with a greater snow instability because of colder temperatures. September is safer (the 24 hours after a storm rule usually works well at this time of year) and by October you have hard snow in the morning and spring corn in the afternoon.

We will begin to remove some traverse dates and implement them for individual Turk booking. This allows groups to use the Turks for “destination skiing” where you get there with a few days food and hang about skiing the local basins.

Winter operations – Anton

Phone: 027 628 1038   Email:
Anton Schmitz has taken on the role of “Winter Operations Manager”. This involves trying to coordinate people doing the traverse and staying in the Turks over winter. He is the point of contact for questions related to bookings, communication (see Garmins below) and Turk related issues. The club want to make sure that all people doing the traverse in winter are suitably skilled and equipped but equally we want to avoid those subjective questions such as “do you think it is safe enough”.

Please checkout these documents (a bit of a work in progress):
Self certification guide:
Winter operations guide:

Anton on the install day of the very first Turk in the Crown Basin. This has since been replaced with a fully insulated model.

The club has purchased 3 Garmin Inreach Explorer+ PLBs for communication and navigation. These will be distributed to parties doing the traverse and help us work out where people are. On the traverse dates the Turks are used between 30% and 50% of the time, this provides people with the flexibility to juggle weather and avalanche conditions. However, it also means the Turks are often empty when people want to do shorter destination trips. Knowing where groups are and where they will be spending the night helps solve this problem. As well as fulfilling a safety requirement the Garmins allow messaging between parties to workout when a Turk is empty so it can be used for a day trip.


We have re-installed the webcam at the Crown Basin Turk. It is very wide angle (135 degrees), you can see from Coronet Peak all the way around to Mt Sale. The system takes a photo every 30 minutes. It is currently a bit out of focus but the photos are good enough to see the weather and snow cover. It is quite a challenging environment to position a camera with rime ice, fog and moisture.
Check it out here:

Finding Turks in a whiteout (or should I say shiteout)

Last weekend a couple of members headed out from Cardrona Saddle to the Crown Basin Turk. From Crown Peak they could see the Turk in the afternoon sun but as they approached dense fog rolled in. On “arrival” they spent 2 hours looking for the promised safe haven but with no luck! The fog was so thick they could barely see the ends of their skis and according to the GPS on their phone they were standing on top of the Turk.
As it got dark they abandoned their search and skied out via Crown Peak and Bracken Saddle finally getting back to their car at Cardrona Saddle (with some help from me) at around midnight.
It transpired that the location in their phone was about 150 metres off. This event highlights the importance of accuracy and risks of poor visibility. Had this happened on one of the more remote Turks such as Hyde, Saint Just or Vanguard the results could be quite different.


We managed to get in maintenance trips to the 4 high altitude Turks in May. The water tank stands have been re-built (they were sagging under the weight of full tanks), doors trimmed to ensure they close properly, decks leveled and various other maintenance jobs completed. A big thanks to Nigel Smith, Mike Kelly and Bill Day.

Mike and Nigel at Saint Just Turk on the maintenance trip.


The AGM was completed at the end of April. Interestingly about 50% of the people who attended the three meetings (Wanaka, online, Queenstown) were new/prospective members.

The club passed two motions:

  • Build another Turk near the Deep Creek Turk (passed but contentious)
  • Build another Turk in the high alpine at a yet-to-be-decided site (unanimous)

It it obvious that members’ interests lie in the high alpine and remote places! The committee is still working through the proposals, it is a balancing act between creating opportunities for more people to join the club by helping build things while also not getting into a situation where we are over-committed to maintenance and administration.

Toilet building project

Short of some latches on the doors and fitting flashings the build is complete. With so much good skiing at the moment I don’t think installation will begin until the days get a bit longer and the snow not so good.

That’s it for now. I’m about to head into the Crown Basin Turk for 3 nights with the family. The weather looks good and there is plenty of snow!

027 241 8571