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Kiwi towns

What’s so great about Blackwater

  • 1 minute

West Coast, South Island

What to see and do

Blackwater there are plenty of things to do. On the way to Waiuta, a well known mining ghost town you will pass the settlement of Blackwater, a small community that supported sawmilling and farming operations as part of the Waiuta wider settlement. There are several dilapidated houses and an evocative school house.

Blackwater School, closed, near Waiuta, West Coast, South Island, NZ
Blackwater School front path


The school house is open to the public and donations are welcome. The school house desperately needs a new roof.

The visitors book has entries from around the world with written comments encouraging the efforts to maintain a slice of educational history. The school was built in 1913 and closed in 1949 when the roll slipped to five students. It was a single classroom school.

The original desks, inkwells, display cabinets with memorabilia and photographs are captivating. You get a sense of walking into someone’s life in the shadows of the former classroom.

The restoration of the former schoolhouse is now part of the brief of Friends of Waiuta and

“After standing derelict for many years, the building was gifted to the community by farmer Jack Burrows in 1980.

It was well maintained inside and out by neighbours Jack and Barbara Birkbeck before they died 10 years ago. Their daughter, Rosie Wilson, said she and her husband had since taken over maintaining the school and allowing visitors through…” Community hopes to save historic West Coast school

Blackwater School classroom, New Zealand
Blackwater School classroom


The name refers to the deep brown colouration of the water due to high levels of leached tannin from the forest debris (largely leaf litter).

Definitely you will sense the ghosts of children playing by the front entrance.

Take care of the fragile physical reminder of the past and donate to the school restoration fund in the box situated in the hallway.


  • A highlight of the visit to Waiuta

Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about the region check Greymouth & West Coast Region nearby attractions and events.

Best bits travel guide – unique journeys, personal adventures.

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