Gold History in Reefton, New Zealand

It all began with Quartzopolis. There are so many stories woven into the landscape and people. All waiting for you to find.

All of the Expedition Series have a little bit of history to see.  However, “Straight to the Point of Gold” and “Finding the Golden Lead” and the “Hidden Bohemian” have a particular focus on history.  A bonus history expedition is “The Lord of Battery’s”.

Straight to the Point of Gold

Blacks Point Museum

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 Suspension 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”.

Blacks Point is easy to find. Simply walk, bike or drive from the end of Broadway for 2km out of town towards Springs Junction.

Finding the Golden Lead

The Golden Lead Stamper Battery

The final tick box. Deep, deep in Deep Creek, is the illusive Golden Lead Battery. Why go there? Because “it is there”, no other reason. Travel in via 4WD to Big River, then start walking, or walk in from the Inangahua Suspension Bridge. Either way you’ll have an adventure of discovery. Invaluable.

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. The challenging walk to the battery starts from here. Experience required.


The Hidden Bohemian


Waiuta is a perfect park like setting for kids and the grand parents. It’s wide open views, exotic trees and quaint cottages it is a relaxing place to soak up the history.

While working the mines, Jos Divis from Bohemia, recorded the history of Waiuta on film. Many of his photos are on display, with him in them. So we have created the “Bohemian Hunt”. How many times does Jos Divis pose in his own photos? Also find the whippet track, wine cellar, town swimming pool. Waiuta is such a pleasant place for a Bohemian Hunt. Pick up your Bohemian Hunt Maps from the Visitor Centre for Free.

Head out of Reefton towards Greymouth. After around 20km you will see a sign on the left pointing to Waiuta. The road from here soon becomes narrow and gravel. Take care – you will soon arrive.

For more detailed information on Waiuta visit the comprehensive “Friends of Waiuta” website

The Lord of Battery’s

The Lord Brassey Stamper Battery

This Goliath of stamper batterys ‘The Lord Brassey’ stands proud as ever, nestled in the lushness of native bush. It is in such good condition it could almost crush quartz again. Commit to a full day trip with a 4WD and short tramp, or pick it off from Kirwans Hut. Either way you will find your self asking, ‘how did it get here’. The old miners didn’t mind a challenge.

Find the Lord Brassey stamper battery by walking or mountain biking, up the Waitahu Valley.  You can even 4WD part of the way there. 

Um…. so what’s a stamper battery? – A stamper battery is a large piece of machinery used for crushing quartz stone for the purpose of extracting gold out of it. The stamper batteries around Reefton, typically had a water driven cam shaft used for lifting and dropping the stamper rods onto the quartz. Each stamper rod can weigh over 500kg.  At the  peak of production, The Lord Brassey Stamper Battery has 15 stamper rods banging away, side by side.

The Birth of Reefton

Although some alluvial gold had been won in the district, it was that discovery of rich gold bearing quartz reefs in the hills above Blacks Point that blazed the town to life in 1870. The linking of Reefton to the rest of the country by telegraph in 1872 served to heighten investor interest to fever pitch. Telegrams poured by their thousands into the town that was described as ‘the most brisk, business-like place in the whole colony. Reefton’s stock exchange seethed with excitement and ‘script mania’ gripped the town as discoveries were made by such companies as Imperial, Wealth of Nations, and Golden Fleece. Over £2 million in gold was recovered over the next 30 years, and Reefton’s streets were the first inNew Zealandto be lit by electricity.

The idiot’s guide to Reefton and Gold

From the lucrative old gold mines of Waiuta to the current Oceana Globe mine, Reefton has been and still is, all about gold.  The gold comes from a band of rock, known as a ‘quartz reef”, that runs through the area.  Using “quartz” and “reef” we can come up with the following:

Reef + town =Reefton

Quartz + metropolis= Quartzopolis

As for the Gold; It is gained by crushing up the quartz rock, then using chemistry to separate the crushed rock from the small bits of gold in between.  Simple.

The old boys (and girls) decided that “Reefton” had more prestige as the name for the town.   We like that name as well, but think that “Quartzopolis” is appropriate for representing the intrigue, quirkiness, mystique and adventure of the historic goldfields and beech forest surrounding Reefton.  The Goldfields of Quartzopolis –  a forest of rich returns.

History around Reefton is of such rich abundance – walk through the Quartzopolis time portal and find out for yourself.