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Kiwi Towns

What's so great about Reefton, West Coast

  • 3 minutes

Reefton there are plenty of things to do. Discover Reefton as you farewell / arrive on the West Coast, South Island on your way to Christchurch via the Lewis Pass. Find places to walk among heritage sites, stunning natural beauty in Victorian Conservation Park. Places to go include a town exploration and relaxing in a main street cafe. Attractions include a local distillery, botanical gins with local ingredients or enjoy gold panning right on the main street at the Bearded Miner at the Miner’s Hut. Things to do embrace Victoria Conservation Park, the outdoors with rafting, fishing and hunting and heritage trail to an abandoned coal mining town, Waiuta.

TIP

Want to try skateboarding, mountain bike jumps then you are in the right place, Reefton Skateboard Park

Reefton main street, New Zealand
Reefton main street

WHAT TO DO, 10 TOP SIGHTS

The Lewis Pass gateway town to the West Coast is founded on gold prospecting miners intent on striking it rich in the 19th century.

  • Reefton’s past glittered. Find out about gold mining and walk the heritage trail around the town. You will walk past Reefton School of Mines, the Courthouse, Oddfellows Hall, St Xavier’s Convent and the Band Hall. Heritage main street with its mix of old Victorian facade buildings and functional mid-twentieth century shops. Enough heritage remains to create a Wild West image for the town’s tourism endeavors, take a stroll around town and check out heritage buildings
  • Further afield is the abandoned coal mining town of Waiuta making a great day trip from Reefton. An extraordinary glimpse into a town where the coal was mined at the greatest depths achieve in Australia and New Zealand
  • Bearded Miner offers main street gold panning opportunities while you watch steel being shaped by a blacksmith
  • Shopping in the main street and Reefton’s byways for unique arty crafty creations, a bottle of gin at Reefton Distillery and fabulous second hand finds
  • Skateboarding park is well signposted. There is a heritage train and campground next door to one of New Zealand’s largest skateparks, mountain bikes, scooters are welcome. What a great civic amenity largely built by volunteers. Reefton, it’s awesome
Blackwater Mine chimney and winding engine foundations at Waiuta, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand
Waiuta
Reefton Cemetery, West Coast, New Zealand @CWGC
Reefton Cemetery @CWGC
  • Victoria Conservation Park is wrapped around Reefton with a network of walking tracks and top trout fishing spots
  • Reefton Visitor Center, a must-go place to catch up with up to date information, get the West Coast vibe going with a short self-guided tour of an ‘underground’ mine and mining equipment
  • Power House Trail is a short walk through regenerating forest to the site of New Zealand’s first public electricity urban supply (1888). Check travel pack section for Reefton Walks brochure
  • Railway Precinct: Station, locomotive shed and (in town) a Fairlie locomotive
  • Reefton cemeteries, always a great place to get acquainted with the lives of former town inhabitants. Graves of prospectors from as far afield as Lyell, Waiuta coal mine and elsewhere

REEFTON SHOPS AND GALLERIES

  • Reefton Distillery in former 1890’s general store
  • Reefton Coffin Co – The Quant and the Curious is home to collectables, antiques and beautiful objects of all kinds
  • The Hale Gallery is a premier studio working with Reefton Gallery which incorporates 7 other professional West Coast artists.
  • The Art Gallery is a co-op of local artists showcasing their artwork. It’s likely you will meet the local artist when you pop in.
Reefton Distilling Co., West Coast, New Zealand @Mike Dickison
Reefton Distilling Co. @Mike Dickison
@ReeftonDistillingCo
@ReeftonDistillingCo

REEFTON DISTILLING COMPANY

Innovation, passion and great marketing + amazing product(s). Reefton Distilling operates from an 1870’s Haralds general store now repurposed and restored to house a working distillery, tasting bar and retail store. The spirits are produced on site using local botanicals and spray-free fruits, with a range including three Little Biddy Gins, Wild Rain Vodka and Reefton Distilling Co. Liqueurs.  Also a bourbon-style and single malt whiskey for the dedicated whiskey buff. Reefton Distilling Co offers distillery tours and tastings. Check for up to date details about availability to avoid disappointment.

TIP

Want instant premium, slightly tippy ice-cream, pour Reefton Distillery liquor over the vanilla and enjoy the magic.

A top attraction, a must-go destination for lovers of food and a good story about success in a small town. Reefton twin brothers Nigel and Steffan MacKay are distillery ambassadors for the brand. They are key foragers locating pure water sources and foraging for botanicals to flavour the gin.

Check out Nigel and Steffan on a foraging expedition in their backyard.

And it gets better, Reefton Distilling has a well regarded online shop experience.

@ReeftonDistillingCo
@ReeftonDistillingCo
Black point museum, West Coast, New Zealand @antipodeanneil
Black point museum @antipodeanneil

HERITAGE BLACKS POINT MUSEUM

A flick and you’ve passed BLACKS POINT on your way out of Reefton towards Christchurch. Home to the popular Murray Creek Track and a gnarly looking suspension bridge spanning the  Inangahua River is BLACKS POINT MUSEUM. The museum is managed by volunteers and you will need to check with the local visitor centre for up to date information. The museum is a veritable collection of memorabilia from the 19th century with typewriters vying with gold panning equipment for space. A marvelous place for heritage trail buffs to meander through. The museum is situated about 2km from Reefton in the heart of Blacks Point. Open: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Sunday 9am – 12pm, 1pm – 4pm, Saturday 1pm, check beforehand to avoid disappointment. The museum is housed in the former Methodist Church.

FAME

  • JACK LOVELOCK, New Zealand Olympic legend was born in Blacks Point. housed in the former Methodist Church, which was built in 1876.
  • BIBBY, tiny female 19th century gold miner whose posthumous fame is now captured as a gin label

REEFTON – MOUNTAIN BIKING

  • There are over 15 dedicated trails for enthusiasts to explore. The beech forest and historic goldfields surrounding Reefton offer an excellent range of mountain biking opportunities. Most tracks can be accessed by bike or a short 10-15 minute drive from Reefton. From 6 km to 25 km. The Department of Conservation has got you sorted. Reefton mountain bike tracks: Victoria Forest Park, West Coast region
Reefton mountain biking, West Coast, New Zealand @Reefton
Reefton mountain biking @Reefton
@InlandAdventuresNZ
@InlandAdventuresNZ

REEFTON RAFTING THE GRAY RIVER

  • It’s the West Coast after all with white water rivers flowing year round. Join Inland Adventures locally owned and operated rafting company is proud to be able to show off their stunning backyard and provide unforgettable day and multi-day whitewater rafting river and camping experiences.
  • OUTDOORS, walks in New Zealand’s largest Conservation Park are located around Reefton. The Victoria Conservation Park is managed by the Department of Conservation. It covers a vast area of 180,000 hectares centred on the Victoria and Brunner Ranges with the Inangahua, Maruia and Gray Rivers making their way through the landscape as they flow to the coast.

WHERE TO TAKE THE BEST SELFIE

  • BLACKS POINT MUSEUM FRONT ENTRANCE MURAL, painted by local resident and well-known cinematographer Alun Bollinger
  • Yourself at Bearded Miner panning for gold
  • Vintage railway trains are a great backdrop, check out the ‘Roller Park’ neighbourhood for the historic train
  • Your new find shopping in Reefton
Black point museum, West Coast, New Zealand @Reefton
Black point museum @Reefton
Tawhai Falls, New Zealand
Tawhai Falls

WHAT TO DO WITH KIDS, FAMILIES

  • Mini Miners Gold Hunt’ for kids. The local Visitor Centre and the camping ground have a map, a packet of gold nuggets which can be purchased for a small donation (to cover the cost of spray paint). In each pack there are 10 nuggets of gold which families can place inside the doors to be found by other children. There are 10 doors to be found.
  • Tawhai Walk a short easy walk through the picturesque mountain beech forest surrounding Reefton
  • Bottled Lightning Powerhouse Walk, cross a suspension bridge, with plenty of information plaques along the track
Recycled coal bucket now garden planter, Reefton, New Zealand
Recycled coal bucket now garden planter, Reefton

Getting there

TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION

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

HISTORY & HERITAGE REEFTON, WEST COAST

Reefton has over 24 historic buildings from the 19th century.  These include a variety of shops, churches, lodges, hotels, halls, courthouse and the Reefton School of Mines (established in 1886). The Oddfellows Hall boasts the first light that was powered just above the entranceway. The many buildings dating back to the beginning help you recreate Reefton’s past – the Surveyors House (1871), the ‘Top of the Town’ shops and Forsyth & Masters Store (1870s), the Courthouse (1873), the Oddfellows Hall (1872), Bank of New Zealand (1873), National Bank (1873), Catholic Church (1877), St Stephens Anglican Church (1878), Reefton School of Mines (1886) and the Band Hall (1901).

The historic Courthouse of Reefton, West Coast, New Zealand
The historic Courthouse of Reefton

Reefton is also rich in rail heritage with the world’s only Single ‘R’ Class Fairlie locomotive in its original form sitting right in the heart of town. Just out of town on SH 69 towards Westport, the Reefton railway precinct retains its 19th Century railway station (1892) and the country’s only remaining single row two-stall steam engine shed (1892), both former Midland Railway Company buildings.

TIP

You can spend a time in the Railway Manager’s former cottage next to the railway station.

TOURS

Established in the 1800’s as a gold mining town and later becoming a coal mining town, Reefton is full of historic mining relics and attractions. Take a heritage tour and explore the history of the region, or try your hand at gold panning for gold at Slab Hut Creek or Bearded Miners. For self-guided tours, pans can be hired at the Reefton i-SITE Visitor Centre.

Today In 1888, it was the first town in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere to be lit by electricity, generated by the Reefton Power Station. Reefton was a thriving gold mining town in the late 19th century, and gold mining lasted from the 1870s to the 1950s. Its economy is based on tourism, forestry, coal mining and farming. Source Reefton – Wikipedia

Reefton flag, New Zealand
Reefton flag

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