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Stops & extensions State Highway 6: Nelson, through mountain passes to Westport

Travel pack information

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@KawatiriCoastalTrail @KawatiriCoastalTrail
  • Kawatiri Rail Tunnel history Work started in 1873 on the 30 km section to Foxhill via Bishopdale, Stoke, Richmond, Brightwater, Wakefield and Wai-iti. From 1890 the extension to Belgrove was continued towards Kohatu, a section which required the piercing of the Spooner Range. A construction camp near the eventual 1352m tunnel rolled on after opening in 1897 and the thrust continued towards Tadmor, via Tapawera. A rail and road bridge crossed the Motueka River in 1906. It had taken 33 years to construct 66 km of track. In 1920 work started on the section to Kawatiri, including the excavations for the 185 metre-long tunnel and a work camp at Pikomanu. The interpretation panel gives more insight into the lives of the railway construction workers. Frustrations grew as progress was lackadaisical but the line only made it as far as Gowan Bridge. All work ceased with the Great Depression in 1931. With the rise in road freight and demise in passenger numbers, the line died a slow death, finally shutting up shop in 1955.
  • Spooners Railway Tunnel, which was once used on the Nelson-Glenhope Railway. The 1.35 km-long tunnel was completed in 1893 and was open up until 1955, when the railway was decommissioned. The tunnel lay mostly unused for 60 years until it was re-opened in 2016 to become part of the Great Taste Trail.”
  • Insects and wasp safety notice, Department of Conservation alert during summer in particular however be aware throughout the year. Sandflies. The presence of biting sand flies can detract from your experience in Murchison, especially during the summer months. The problem can be easily remedied by coating exposed skin with a good quality insect repellent. Wasps, ensure you carry antihistamine if you are allergic to wasp stings. Gold fossicking where you can pan for gold without a permit.
  • Another name for the Buller River is Kawatiri (meaning deep and swift). It flows for 169km and finishes at the Tasman Sea near Westport. Much of the Buller River’s catchment area is mountainous and thickly covered in native bush.


The road trip is suitable for motorhomes


December to March with a waterproof layer. The West Coast is known for its high rainfall. Recommended insect repellent and sturdy footwear.


Westport Weather Forecast and Observations




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