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Millerton visitor centre, now semi-abandoned Millerton visitor centre, now semi-abandoned

Take the high road and explore the coal mining, now largely abandoned Millerton settlement.  It has the air of a ghost town with a number of empty buildings and infrastructure. Despite its elevation of 300 m being considerably lower than that of Denniston (494 m), the grade between the coastline and Millerton still meant that the coal was difficult to get down to the railway. The Westport Coal Company built the Millerton Incline in 1891 and the Millerton Mine began production in 1896. Mining at Millerton ended in the late 1960s, similar again to Denniston.

Millerton abandoned town, abandoned bus stop

Millerton Incline

The Millerton Incline, 1891 was a narrow gaug bush tram econsisting of two parallel tracks on which the coal tubs ran, being hauled by rope.  The incline dropped 260 metres to the coast.  Remnants of tracks, trucks, bath houses and other installations are still visible. The Millerton Incline was in its day quite a feat of engineering and the remains of this incline and its infrastructure are more accessible then those of the more famous Denniston incline. The Millerton Incline was used to convey tubs of coal from the mines around the Millerton area to the Bins at Granity, which in their day were the largest coal loading bins of wooden construction in NZ. The Bins are long gone, but the incline remains and is well worth a look.

The informal information centre is in what is effectively an abandoned house,  there are dusty maps and photographs, furniture thta is showing the effects of weather and time.  The settlement is a snapshot of archeological ruins in the making.  Nature is busy making a comeback and reclaiming houses and public areas.  It is fascinating to think while there about two hotels, shops, churches, sports grounds and library now dissolving back into the bush.

Getting there

It is a narrow, steep winding road setting the scene for a visit to a part of New Zealand that has very few visitors. The road to Millerton has spectacular views across the coast and the rain forest.

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