Reefton must do adventures – The Expedition Series

Looking into the Victoria Range from Mt Haast

The Goldfields of Quartzopolis is a corner of the Victoria Forest Park that is home to Reefton’s rich mining heritage and is a wilderness playground. From the central hub of Reefton anyone can seek out adventures that are so individually New Zealand it’s virtually your birth right to try them. It is a place where you choose your own expeditions that suit your family, friends or your own fancy. Wake to snow in a backcountry hut, spot and hook a trout for lunch, 4WD into mining history, bike the mountains, fossick for gold, catch the shrill of the elusive kaka. These are the riches of the Goldfields of Quartzopolis.

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1. Blacks Point Museum and Walks

Straight to the Point of Gold

Make a perfect day of it at the quirk-essential cottage town of Blacks Point. Visit the fully operational 1890’s gold battery, browse the eclectic Blacks Point museum, and take a side trip to the Blacks Point swing bridge to spot the locals pet trout. Complement the day with a vigorous walk to the Energetic Mine also known as the infamous “Slaughter House”. (easy day trip) 

Blacks Point is easy to find. Simply walk, bike or drive from the end of Broadway for 2km out of town towards Springs Junction.   See Walking and Tramping  and History for more details.

2. Slab Hut Creek Campsite

The Gold and the Bird Song

Who doesn’t like bird songs and gold? The Slab Hut Campground has both. Visitors have reported sightings of the illusive kaka and also spotted were parakeet, tui, tomtit, bellbird and the cheeky robin. While you pass the time spotting all types of birds, try your luck on the gold sluice boxes provided. Like the wildlife the gold is free. (easy day or overnight trip)

Head out of Reefton on the main road towards Greymouth. You will go over a hill, along a straight, then look out for the big sign on your left. Slab Hut Campground is down a short gravel road.

3. Inangahua River Swingbridge

The Rich Pools of Inangahua

No better way to enrich yourself than to be immersed in a freshwater swimming hole, then take your time crossing a glorious swing bridge. When the lowlands get hot, this drive to spot is a gem. The Inangahua swing bridge is 10 mins from town. Do take some sausages for the river stone barbeque. (easy half day)

Drive out of Reefton on the main road towards Springs Junction. 11km from town you will see a sign to the swing bridge picnic area and car park on the right hand side of the road.

4. Alborns Mine Walk

Mining of Old and New

The small time family coal mine ‘Alborns’, rusts quietly in time as the big cousin Oceana Gold is busy about its business. This is an impressive contrast between now and then. As you walk this short circuit you can’t miss the old Leyland truck, sitting proudly as a monument to New Zealanders adaptable spirit. Enjoy this wondrous walk; it’s just another Quartzopolis backcountry beauty.

Drive out of town over the bridge towards Greymouth and take your first left onto Soldiers Road. The signpost and car park for Alborns Track is 9km along this gravel road.

5. 4WD the Waitahu Valley

The Maiden 4WD Voyage

The Waitahu Valley, with its granite bouldered river and 4WD road, is an idyllic experimental expedition. For a novice four wheel driver, it will challenge in places, yet remain highly accessible. Make it a double family adventure with fishing rod and lure. Or triple adventure with the ‘dare to do, sand-fly swim’. In Reefton the backcountry fun is only 5 mins away. (easy half day)

Head out of town towards Westport and turn right onto Gannons Rd. The 4WD track starts at the end of this road.

6. Waiuta Historic Settlement

The Waiuta History Hound

Take a journey to the park like setting of Waiuta. Amongst the old fur trees and the occassional cottage you’ll find footprints of a forgotten Waiuta township. Whippet tracks and swimming pools, wine cellars and rugby fields are clues to a once busy and bustling community. Pick up our history puzzle from the Reefton Visitor Centre and become a ‘history hound’. It is made for all ages. (easy day trip)

7. Tramping to Kirwans Hut

Beyond the Snowline

On the edge of the alpine tussocks sits Kirwans Hut, one of New Zealand’s cosiest and quaintest. This is a priceless, one-off gem of a South Island overnight tramp. Select your time of visit for spring sunsets, winter snow or summer kiwi listening. Be sure to explore the old Kirwans Reward Mine while you’re up there. (hard multi-day trip)

This track can be accessed from the end of Boatmans Road which turns off the Reefton Highway 12km north of Reefton.

8. Mountain Biking from Murray Creek to Waitahu Valley

The Clematis Devil

Our first choice adventure mountain bike expedition is down the Devils Tail to Clematis Suspension Bridge. Ride freely through the combination of pack track and historic road, into the wilderness of beech forest and granite country. Continue into the valley like a winding vine, to the deep pools of the Clematis swing bridge. Here in spring the Clematis Flower is white like snow. You then follow an easy 4WD road back to a civilised coffee. (hard adventure ride)

Ride 2km out of town to Blacks Point to where the trail begins. It’s a 4-5 hour loop to the Waitahu Valley and back along the road to town.

9. Big River Historic Goldmines

The Biggest Adventure

This well preserved pocket of backcountry heritage is a perfect weekend package. Overnight at the Big River hut and discover relics of tramways, preserved engines, poppet head and saw mills. Travel options include: bike/tramp the old pack track from the historic Waiuta settlement, or bike/tramp/4WD the historic road Big River Road from Reefton. Big River is a wilderness adventure with a difference. (long day or overnight trip)

10. Mountain Biking Kirwans Track

The Everlasting Downhill

This premier, full on, downhill mountain bike ride is one of New Zealand’s legendary rides. Ride or helicopter up to Kirwan’s Hut, then flow with the forest as it leads you down. This is 10kms of downhill that drops a 1000m from top to bottom. (long day or overnight adventure ride)

Drive toward Westport and turn right onto Boatmans Road. Drive to Capleston car park at the end of the road. Start riding from here. The other option is to take a helicopter to the top and just ride the downhill…