Walking & Tramping in Reefton, New Zealand

3 people enjoying a Quartzopolis sunrise

Walking and Tramping in Reefton

Go walk the Goldfields!

Numerous tracks await your visit, which allow for short urban to back-country walks, full day and overnight tramps. Tracks lead to and pass by the many intriguing historic relics, mines and abandoned township sites from the quartz gold mining era. With quaint, cosy and rustic huts to rest at, you can enjoy majestic travel through pockets of pristine native forest, and then when you emerge, delight in the spectacular views of the Victoria and Brunner Ranges. “The Goldfields Journey” is a multiday trip exploring the old goldfields surrounding Reefton.

From the central hub of Reefton you can choose a walk to suit your family, friends or your own fancy:

Short walks (less than 1 hour):

Golden Fleece Battery Walk
Bottled Lightning Powerhouse Walk
Reefton Heritage Walk
Reefton Walkway
Tawhai Walk
Slab Hut Creek
Waiuta Town Walk
Swimming Pool Walk – Waiuta
Prohibition Mine and Ball Mill – Waiuta
The Tunnel Swingbridge Walk – Kirwans

Longer half and full day walks:

Snowy Battery Track – Waiuta
Konini Pack Track
Alborn’s Track
Larry’s Creek Track
Progress Water Race Track
Golden Lead Battery
Lankey Creek Tram Track
Murray Creek Track
The Clematis Swingbridge walk – Waitahu Valley

Long day and overnight tramps:

Kirwans Track
Waitahu Valley
Inangahua River to Big River
Big River to Waiuta
Murray Creek to Waitahu Valley
Duffy Creek
Lake Stream
Mt Haast
Klondyke Routes

The Goldfields Journey – Waiuta to Kirwans

Go walk The Goldfields Journey – Waiuta to Kirwans for the  ultimate history adventure.  You will experience 4-5 day trip like no other, linking DOC tracks through the heart of the Goldfields of Quartzopolis.

Plan and prepare:

TELL SOMEONE WHERE YOU ARE GOING
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned.

Follow the outdoor safety code:
1 Plan your trip
2 Tell someone
3 Be aware of the weather
4 Know your limits
5 Take sufficient supplies

Visit the adventuresmart.org.nz website for more information.

Victoria Forest Park

Surrounding Reefton is New Zealand’s largest Forest Park,covering a vast area of over 200,000hectares.  Many gems await rediscovery for those willing to explore the area. Immense diversity in flora and fauna exists from spectacular alpine environments of the Victoria and Brunner Ranges, through to the rich beech forest and rivers of the lower ranges and valleys. Tui, bell bird, tomtit and robin, along with kea, kaka, red and yellow crowned parakeets flourish, and in some places you can hear roroa, the great spotted kiwi calling. The five types of beech – red, hard, silver, mountain and black can be found standing tall among the historical mining sites which grant you insight into the hardiness and determination, not to mention the dictating gold fever of the late 1800 to early 1900 era.

The Lewis Pass National Reserve

The Lewis Pass National Reserve, straddling the Alpine fault, is one of the country’s outstanding natural areas. There are a number of short walks, day and overnight tramps within the reserve with camping at Marble Hill, the start of the Lake Daniell track. A soak in the outside rock rock pools of the Japanese style bathhouses at the Maruia Springs Thermal Resort is a must.

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Local Reefton Tracks

Bottled Lightning Powerhouse Loop

This takes you past the site of the powerhouse that allowed Reefton to be the first town with electric lights in 1888.  It is a lovely walking circuit  beside the Inangahua River.

Grade: Easy
Time/distance 40min/6km loop
Start point: Reefton Visitor Centre

Starting on Broadway, ride up the road towards Blacks Point for 800m until you see the swing bridge crossing over Inangahua River. Cross over the river and follow the walking track downstream on the other side. Be sure to check out the remains of the old power house that allowed Reefton to have the first electric lights in NZ (and the southern hemisphere). Cross back over on the road bridge and turn right onto Broadway to complete the loop. Be aware of other track users.

Reefton Walkway

Grade: Easy
Time/distance: 30min/1.5km
Start point: Reefton Visitor Centre

To get there:
Head to the yellow Reefton Walkway sign which is east along Broadway by Donovan Street.

The walk:
Head along Broadway towards Blacks Point. Just on the edge of town you will see the Reefton Walkway on your left. A steep short ascent will take you up onto a wide, level track. There is an excellent view of the Reefton Township and surrounding area. Continue along to where the track widens and becomes road. You can either head down and out to Dunn Street or keep following the main track through taller trees and come out at Munson Street. Both exits lead onto Bridge Street and back to Broadway.  Be aware of other users.

Reefton Lookout: Zig-Zag Track

A forestry road and walking/biking track link up.

Grade: Moderate
Time/distance 40min-1hr/8km
Start/end point: Reefton visitors centre

To get there:
Make your way to the Lookout Track 650m along on the left hand side of Soldiers Road. This is on the left 1km south of Reefton along SH7.

The walk:
Head up the gradually climbing forestry road until you reach the lookout and humming cell phone tower. Enjoy a break with stunning views of Reefton and the surrounding ranges.  Continue following the main forestry road around the hill. You know you are on the right track when you arrive at a junction and see the yellow Zig Zag sign directing you towards a biking/walking track down to Rosstown Road.

Alborns Track

Begins at a carpark 9 km along Soldiers Road which leaves the Reefton highway (SH 7) just south of the town. Scattered among old coal mine workings are remains of makeshift winch equipment, including an old Leyland lorry. Other features are distinctive “coal measures” vegetation and views of the Victoria and Paparoa Ranges.

Grade: Moderate
Time/distance 40min-1hr/8km
Start/end point: Reefton visitors centre

 

Alborns and Big Cousin

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.

Time/Distance: 1hour 30min/2.7km loop
Start point: Alborns Track car park, Soldiers Road

Konini Valley Pack Track (This track is under construction)

1 hour 30min one way

The historic Konini track branches off the Reefton Walkway up the hill and along a ridge to meet the Murray Creek track network near Ajax Mine. The track is well formed and follows a 4WD track for some sections.

Tawhai Walk

5 minute loop/250 m

Just south of the Reefton Saddle on the Reefton highway (SH7) is a picnic area with tap water and a toilet. A track suitable for wheelchairs (assisted only) goes through beech forest.

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Waiuta Tracks

Access:
Waiuta is one of the West Coast’s best known ghost towns, signposted from the Reefton highway (SH7), 21 km south of Reefton. Follow the sealed and shingle road a further 16km to Waiuta. The road is suitable for most vehicles. Accommodation is available at Waiuta Lodge and bookings can be made at the Reefton Visitor Centre. There are also several informal camping sites. A detailed brochure on Waiuta is available. All walks are signposted from the information site on Top Road.

Waiuta Town Walk

1 hour 30 minute, round trip/2 km
This walk circumnavigates the town, passing the Blackwater mine, the remains of shops, old house sites and recreation areas. Historic photos depicting the town are interpreted along the walk.

Swimming Pool Walk

15 minutes, round trip/ 450 m
This track leads to the town pool which, although intact, is now surrounded by regenerating bush. Mine buildings and foundations can be visited on the return leg.

Prohibition Mine and Ball Mill

5 min one way, driving/2.2 km one way
“Pro Road” winds to the top of the country’s deepest mineshaft (879m) where there are fine views from a 580m altitude. The old foundations of a Ball Mill where quartz was ground to extract gold can also be seen.

Snowy Battery Track

2 hours 30 minutes return/5.1 km
A well formed down hill track leads you to the remains of a massive gold extraction plant, including large cyanide tanks and machinery foundations. Return by the same track or by either following the water race from the battery to the powerhouse site then up a gentle graded track to Waiuta; or from the powerhouse, crossing the river to Hukarere Road for a prearranged pick up.

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Big River

One of the most intact mining areas, it has a remarkable array of goldmining relics including a poppet head and steam winder. There is also a 20 bunk hut.
Access:
Walking access is either from Waiuta or the Lewis Pass highway 11 km east of Reefton. 4WD access is from Reefton via Soldiers Road.

Four wheel drive

4 hours return driving time
A four wheel drive track starts 9 km along Soldiers Road, after the Alborns Track carpark. Soldiers Road turnoff is signposted on SH7, just south of Reefton.
The track, twisting through regenerating beech forest, passes many mining sites before opening out to the barren Big River settlement. This track is for experienced four wheel drivers only.

Waiuta to Big River

3.5 to 5 hours one way/10.7 km
The track is signposted from “Pro Road” Waiuta. It follows an old benched pack track and passes the Big River South Mine, the St George Mine and stamper battery, and other old mining sites.

Big River to Inangahua River

6 to 7 hours one way/10.1 km
The journey passes the Golden Lead Battery historic site and joins the Progress Water Race Track, to finish at the Inangahua Swingbridge Picnic area. Parts of the track are quite steep and become more difficult in wet weather. Rewards include fine views and forest changes plus historic relics including coalmine trams, sawmills, hut sites and a quartz battery.

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Inangahua Suspension Bridge

Access:
11 km east of Reefton on the Lewis Pass highway.

Progress Water Race Track

2 hours return/5 km return
The suspension footbridge crosses the Inangahua River, leading to a good track which follows the disused water race, occasionally crossing side gullies via steps. The track ends at the Deep Creek-Inangahua River confluence. Those walkers who have more time on their hands can continue on to the Golden Lead Battery.

Golden Lead Battery historic site

6 hours return from Inangahua Swingbridge/6.3 km return
Follow the Progress Water Race walking track (above), then continue along the Big River/Inangahua track. Alternatively in fine weather you can cross the Inangahua River 1.5km up the road from the swingbridge and meet the track where it starts to head up Deep Creek. Access down to the river from the main rd is via an unmarked 4WD track. The track climbs and descends numerous spurs and crosses two bridges to reach the restored Golden Lead Battery, which stands in a small grassy clearing. In the fine weather it is possible to walk in the creek bed, avoiding the steeper sections of the track.

Finding the Golden Lead

The monumental final tick. Deep, deep in Deep Creek, is the elusive Golden Lead Battery. Why go there? “Because it is there”, no other reason. Like searching for the lost temple, battling to this battery through the dense beech forest is a journey of discovery. Take a map and compass and prepare yourself for a wilderness adventure of historic proportions. Invaluable.

Time/distance: 6hrs/6.3km return
Start point: Inangahua Suspension Bridge
End point: Inangahua Suspension Bridge
Other options: Picnicking, History, Birds and Trees, Fishing, Swimming

To get there:
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 walk:
Drive about 10km out of Reefton towards Springs Junction then turn off right when you see a sign to the Inangahua Swing Bridge. Cross the bridge and follow the Progress Water Race walking track, then continue along the Big River/Inangahua track. This rougher track climbs and descends numerous spurs and crosses two bridges to reach the restored Golden Lead Battery, which stands in a small grassy clearing. In the fine weather it is possible to walk in the creek bed, avoiding the steeper sections of the track. Return back the same way or continue following the track for an overnight stay at Big River Hut.

Experience Required:
This is a challenging day out – experience is required.

 

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Murray Creek/Blacks Point

Golden Fleece Battery Walk

Time/distance: 15 min /550m round trip
Start/end point: Blacks Point Museum/Murray Creek carpark
DOC track category Short Walk- easy

Bring the day together with a short walk combined with a visit to Blacks Point Museum.  Follow the Murray Creek track a short distance to a marked turnoff before winding down through the trees to a creek. The track crosses a bridge (built on the foundations of the Golden Fleece battery bridge) and continues down stream beside a water pipe to the battery site.  The Morning Star Battery has be restored to full working order on the Golden Fleece foundations.  Ask at the Blacks Point Museum to see it running – it is quite an experience.

Murray Creek Track

Time/distance: 5 hours /9.7km round trip
Start/end point: Murray Creek carpark
DOC track category Walking Track

Walk into history up the old Murray Creek Road.  Short side trips include, the Energetic Mine Site, Cement Town, and Inglewood mine and battery tracks.  Carry on past mine shafts, a steam winch, boilers and the Ajax Stamper battery.  A steep track leads you back to the Murray Creek carpark.

Lankey Creek Tram Track

Time/distance: 2 hours /4km
Start/end point: Lankey Creek carpark (Jack Lovelock Memorial)/Murray Creek carpark
DOC track category Walking Track

Start at Lankey Creek Carpark on the main highway about 3km east of Blacks Point. This car park is also the site of the Jack Lovelock Memorial. The track climbs steeply to a leveled tramway formation that overlooks the Inangahua River and Lankey Creek.   Here, there are old coal and gold mines with remains of winches and a battery.  The track joins the Murray Creek Track just past the Energetic Gold Mine site.

Murray Creek to Waitahu Valley Track

2 hours/3 km

This historic pack track turns off the top of the Murray Creek circuit, dropping down at an easy grade to connect with the Kirwins Track network via the impressive Clematis Gorge Swingbridge over the Waitahu River. You can head back the way you came or head down the Waitahu Valley along a 4WD track to the end of Gannons Road.

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Waitahu Valley

The Clematis Swingbridge Walk

4 hours/ 14km return

Drive 2km north of Reefton and turn right onto Gannons Road. Continue for 4km until you reach the road bridge crossing the Waitahu River. Find a place to pull over here. The walk follows a 4WD track along the picturesque Waitahu River through virgin beech and rimu forest. Standing on the impressive Clematis Gorge Swingbridge provides a lovely view up the valley and is perfect place for spotting trout. There is a lovely picnic spot by the river and a nice pool for swimming in – watch out for sandflies.

The Lord Brassey Historic Stamper Battery

5 hours/20km one way

The Lord Brassey historic stamper battery can be found by walking up the Waitahu Valley. To achieve a return trip to this historic Stamper Battery in one day a good idea would be to 4WD up to the Clematis Gorge Swingbridge or mountain bike up part of the way up the valley to reduce the amount of walking.  Visiting the Lord Brassey battery is often done as part of a Kirwans track tramp.

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 had 15 stamper rods banging away, side by side.

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Kirwans

Kirwans Track

2 or 3 days/39.8 km round trip

There is a steady six-hour climb up a well formed pack track to the modern Kirwans hut (12 bunk) near the bushline. A 50 minute side trip up to 1297 metre Kirwans Hill provides views of a ruggedly beautiful part of the Victoria Range. From open-cast quartz mine workings near the hut, a steep descent partly follows the line of an

old cableway to the Lord Brassey stamper battery. The track descends further to the 6-bunk Montgomerie Hut. From the hut, a rough four-wheel drive road leads down the Waitahu Valley to Gannons Road Bridge, where a short track returns to Boatmans road end.

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.

Time/distance: 2-3days/40km
Start point: Capleston car park at the end of Boatmans Road
End point: Kirwans Hut
Other options: Walking & Tramping, History, Birds and Trees, Fishing, Stay overnight

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

The walk:
There is a steady 6 hour climb up a well-formed pack track to the modern Kirwans Hut near the bushline. A 50 minute side trip to 1297 metre Kirwans Hill provides views of a ruggedly beautiful part of the Victoria Range.  From open-cast quartz mine workings near the hut, a steep descent partly follows the line of an old cableway to the Lord Brassey stamper battery. From there a track descends to Montgomery Hut and a rough 4 wheel-drive road leads to Gannons Bridge on the Waitahu Valley Road, which meets the highway 5 km north of Reefton.

The Tunnel Swingbridge Walk

1 hour/3km return

Start up at the Boatmans Road Carpark and head up the Start of Kirwans Track to the impressive Tunnel Swingbridge. The track is flat, wide and very well surfaced all the way up to the impressive bridge and historic rock tunnel.

Larry’s Creek Track

Time/distance: 1 hour 30min / 4.8km return
Start/end point: Turn right after the Larry River SH69 Road Bridge
DOC track category Walking track – take care when crossing the river (don’t try  this walk after heavy rain)

This is a lovely short walk with luxuriant beech forest and historic relics.  The track starts at the end of a 6km forestry road, which turns off SH69 just after the Larry’s Creek bridge, 16km north of Reefton. Follow up the true right bank of the river, winding through beech forest and ending at the old Caledonian goldmine where historic remnants can be seen.  One of the most impressive features is a portable steam engine with a chimney 6m high.  This was used to bring the quartz gold ore to the surface from the 100m deep Caledonian Mine shaft. Care must be taken when crossing Larry’s Creek if you wish to view the stamper battery on the other side.  We recommend you only attempt this in fine weather.

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Rahu Saddle Routes

The tracks and routes starting from the road offer very easy access for experienced trampers and hunters into the alpine zone of the Victoria Mountain Range.

Duffy’s Creek Track

Time/distance: 3hours / 4.4km return
Start/end point: Rahu Saddle SH7
DOC track category “Route” minimal maintenance, experience required

This is a lovely day walk that is “off the beaten track”. The track is a bit rough through the bush but it isn’t far up to where it opens out to a large ephemeral lake.  The wilderness feel so close to the road is enhanced by the large granite cliffs rising from the end of the valley.

Lake Stream

Time/distance: 3hours 30min/7.2km one way
Start/end point: Rahu Saddle SH7
DOC track category “Route” minimal maintenance, experience required

This is easy alpine ambiance at its best.  Tramp for half a day to arrive at a quaint, 2 bunk hut with ample camping space next to a couple of lovely tarns.  To extend the adventure take a map and compass for a walk onto the tops behind the hut to gain views into the Maruia Valley.

Mt Haast

Time/distance: 6hours / 5km return
Start/end point: Rahu Saddle SH7
DOC track category “Route” minimal maintenance, experience required

This is the fastest way to the bush line from Reefton.  It is 2 hours from the road onto the tops and another hour in clear conditions to the summit of Mt Haast.  At 1587m, this pyramid-shaped peak offers stunning views of the main divide.

Klondyke Routes

Time/distance: 2 hours/4.5km one way (valley)     2 hours 30 mins/ 2km one way (spur)
Start/end point: Rahu Saddle SH7
DOC track category “Route” minimal maintenance, experience required

The Klondyke Valley track leads you up the valley to a tussock basin enclosed by steep granite cliffs.  The Klondyke Spur route is a steeper climb leading above the bushline onto the ridge, providing spectacular views of the Victoria Range.  Experienced trampers may continue along the spur and drop into the right branch of the Rahu River to join with the valley route as a round trip. Do not attempt to take a low sidle as this will lead you to dangerous bluffs.

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The Goldfields Journey

Waiuta – Big River – Inangahua River – Blacks Point/Murray Creek – Waitahu Valley – Kirwans Track

The Goldfields Journey is the ultimate reward in backcountry history. This optional 5 day journey travels through the heart of the quartz reef. Follow the pack tracks as they connect you to each of the many pockets of mining relics. It is a journey that can be done in parts or as one big continuous adventure.

Waiuta – Big River

From the historic Waiuta Township the journey takes you to Big River’s tussock lands and its prestigious past. Stay overnight at Big River Hut that overlooks the old mine and relics.

Time/Distance:      4 Hours/11km
Accommodation:  Waiuta Lodge (Sleeps 30) Big River Hut (Sleeps 20)

What a wonderful place to wander for a half day or more. Waiuta, that was once a town, is an explorer’s playground full of rich memories and history of gold. Tick off the Ball Mill gold safe and the town swimming pool and ponder over the immensity of the 879m deep Prohibition Mine shaft. Once you have had your fill of gold history find the lovely and well graded trail winding its way through luxurious beech forest to the comfortable Big River Hut.  The track is signposted from “Pro Road” Waiuta. It follows an old, benched pack track.

INSET: Once upon a time the Waiuta town of old was a town of gold. The Waiuta mines were known as the ‘richest mines of the South’ until they were more or less abandoned in the 1930’s. The miners are gone, however, the richness of memories and history remain. Many mining relics and a few original buildings in the town still remain in the dramatic mountain backed setting. Visit www.waitua.org.nz for more detailed history.

Big River – Inangahua Suspension Bridge

From here you can return to Reefton using the adventurous route down to Deep Creek past a fantastic collection of remains including the fully restored Golden Lead Battery. There is also the option to travel via the historic Big River dray road.

Time/distance:  7 Hours/10km
Accommodation: Camping at Inangahua Swingbridge, Camping at Blacks Point, or a range of different options back in Reefton.

Big River is at the heart of the Goldfields of Quartzopolis. You can easily spend a full day exploring the old township and mine site, including the restored poppet head, steam winding engine and boiler plant. It is also worth going to as a little further afield is the old dam site and old sawmill. 

The Deep Creek track to the Inangahua Swingbridge is a challenging section of the Original Goldfields Journey. However, as you find your way through the forest, the rich rewards of history and discovery will make the journey worth your while. Follow down, past the Golden Lead Battery, old hut sites, sawmills and coalmine trams then follow the Progress Water Race Track to the Inangahua Swingbridge.

Inangahua Swingbridge – Blacks Point Link up

After crossing the Inangahua Swing Bridge you pop onto State Highway 7. The nearest accommodation is back in Reefton 11.5km away. A pick-up shuttle can be arranged (provide link). If you have a tent, you can camp at Inangahua Suspension Bridge or continue walking 6km west along State Highway 7 to Lankey Creek, where you can follow an old tram track to Blacks Point and camp there.

Blacks Point – Waitahu Valley

From the convenience of Reefton link up with the Murray Creek track in Blacks Point. Amble up the historic road to the Waitahu Pack Track that drops you into the stunning valley to Clematis Swing-bridge. This is more of a wilderness adventure with kaka and trout that ends at Montgomery Hut.

Time/distance: 6 Hours/15km
Accommodation:  Choose from a selection of hotels, motels and campsites around Reefton and Blacks Point.

Wherever you decide to stay, the next leg starts from the Blacks Point area along one of the Murray Creek Goldfields tracks. You travel through regenerated beech forest where more than 200 claims were pegged out by various companies from the 1870’s through to the 1930’s. Follow the track to Waitahu Junction and turn towards the Waitahu River Tramping Track which leads to the Clematis Suspension Bridge. Continue up the valley to stay a night at the rustic Montgomerie Hut.

Waitahu Valley – Kirwans Hut

Into the wilderness once more to find the deepest history in New Zealand, the Lord Brassey Battery. This goliath battery marks the start of the track to Kirwans Hut, our best hut with sunset views.

Time/distance: 5 Hours/10km
Accommodation: Montgomery Hut/camping

From Montgomerie Hut head up the valley to Lord Brassey Stamper Battery which is a good spot for lunch, before reaching the top you’ll encounter Kirwans Reward Mine which is worth exploring. A view-filled side trip out to Kirwans Hill will ensure you’ll be ready to settle in for a cosy night in quaint Kirwans Hut.

Kirwans Hut – Capleston car park

The last day takes you down the glorious Kirwans Pack track through rich beech forest to the Capleston car park.

Time/distance: 4 Hours/14km
Accommodation:  Kirwans Hut

Your last day out will have you walking steadily down the historic dray track across several intriguing bridges to the DOC car park at Capleston. From here a pick-up shuttle can be arranged for a well-deserved cuppa and shower in Reefton.

 


Article:

Quartzopolis Wanderings – The Goldfields Journey

The track notes above  give a description of The Goldfields Journey walking from Waiuta to Capleston. The Journey can just as easily be made in the opposite direction. However, a truly golden idea is to complete the Journey over two weekends. On one long weekend you can walk from Capleston to Reefton and on the second weekend walk from Waiuta to Reefton. Read the article “Quartzopolis Wanderings” to find out more.  Please note: this was written by a track ranger based accurate descriptions of places and features.  However,  the family and the exact trip is fictional – your challenge is to live the story and write about your experience, submit it and send it to reeftoninfo@xtra.co.nz to replace this one.

First Weekend:
We drove to Reefton after work on a Friday afternoon and enjoyed a wholesome pub meal followed by a quiet comfortable sleep in our clean and tidy motel room.

Late on Saturday morning we were dropped off in Capleston and began winding our way up a well benched track through the beech forest to Kirwans Hut. Sitting by the fire and looking out the window from this cosy hut we could see the sun setting all the way down the Southern Alps to Mt Cook. Just before bed, I went outside to go to the toilet and heard the unmistakable call of a Kiwi. Classic NZ tramping at its best!

On Sunday morning, we left our packs at the hut and wandered up to the top of Kirwans Hill, where we were treated with clear views over the Victoria Range and the rugged Paparoa Range to the west. After morning tea back at the hut, we made our way down a zigzag track until we emerged from the bush to the fascinating site of the Lord Brassey Stamper Battery. “How the heck did they get that in here!” With the sun filtering through the bush and a bubbling stream nearby, this was the perfect place to stop for lunch. The afternoon was a gentle mossy wander through the bush to Montgomery Hut, a classic DOC 6 bunker.

The wide open Waitahu Valley was a pleasant contrast to the thick bush on Kirwans Track. On Monday we made good time wandering down the valley 4WD track. This allowed us plenty of time for a late morning break at the spectacular Clematis Suspension Bridge. It was a steep grunt up the Devils Tail to the head of Murray Creek. However, this was soon forgotten as we enjoyed a pleasant amble down a wide and gentle path down to Blacks Point. A visit to Blacks Point Museum allowed us to piece together all of the history that we had seen along the way.

Second Weekend:
After completing the first leg of The Goldfields Journey, we felt compelled to come back and finish it off.

Just as on the first weekend, we arranged to be dropped off at the start of the tramp. In this case we also arranged it so we had our car parked 11km out of town at the Inangahua Suspension Bridge which saved us having to walk along the road back into Reefton.

It was a late summer evening when we drove up the narrow gravel road through open beech forest to Waiuta. Our accommodation for the night, the Waiuta Lodge, is like a drive to hut, with big warm pot belly stove and basic but comfortable bunks.

On Saturday morning, we explored the old houses and mining history in and around Waiuta. The drizzle added greatly to atmosphere of the site – we really felt like we were experiencing what it was like all those years ago. After lunch back at the lodge we began wandering off through the bush on the old miners trail to Big River. Like Waiuta, Big River offered us endless exploring opportunities with its huge array of old gold mining machines and relics. Another DOC maintained lodge, Big River Hut provided us with a place to stay the night.

The walk on Sunday was definitely the toughest part of the Journey for us. It was a very steep track down into Deep Creek and fairly rough going down the creek bed to the Road. However, the exploring continued, with dozens of interesting historic relics along the way including sawmills, hut sites, coalmine trams and the Golden Lead Quartz Stamper Battery. When we finally arrived at the Inangahua Suspension Bridge we felt a great sense of achievement of completing The Goldfields Journey. We, also felt that we had found out about a big piece of NZ’s heritage that we didn’t even know existed – The Goldfields of Quartzopolis.