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Short Walks

Top 10 walks, Buller District: where to go

  • 5 minutes

Unpack, unwind, unforgettable places to go

Visit unforgettable places … Unwind in hidden corners of the West Coast, Buller district. Find walks exploring abandoned towns, closed  coal mine settlements, wild wilderness areas and deserted beaches. The Buller Kawatiri West Coast is a place to go for walks with a difference.

Kawatiri Rail Tunnel, New Zealand @travel_with_scott
Kawatiri Rail Tunnel @travel_with_scott
  1. KAWATIRI HISTORIC RAILWAY WALK – MURCHISON

Highlights

  • The railway bridge to nowhere, its evocative and poignant reminder of ‘lost’ transport connections
  • A tunnel that is not too spooky (you can actually see the light twinkling at the end of the tunnel
  • Beautiful clear tea coloured river water (naturally coloured with leaf tannins)

Find a historic tunnel going nowhere. It is all too easy to whizz past Kawatiri signage on state highway six. Stretch the legs and unwind with this great short walk. The walk starts in the large car park (has a composting toilet and plenty of descriptive informative panels detailing the history of the area). Cross the original rail Pikomanu Bridge, pass through a rail tunnel (constructed 1923)

The track returns via beech forest above the Hope River closing the loop at the entrance to the 100 metre tunnel. (Torch helpful, however not necessary). Walk through the tunnel to a view point across the Hope River. You return following the same track, through the tunnel passing beautiful West Coast native beech trees.

Kawatiri tunnel, New Zealand @Jeremy Taylor
Kawatiri tunnel @Jeremy Taylor
Kawatiri Rail Tunnel, New Zealand @travel_with_scott
Kawatiri Railway Station @travel_with_scott

INTERESTING FACT

The walk starts in the location of the former Kawatiri railway station, now vanished. The place is a Department of Conservation campsite. Originally there were over 300 railway workers at the Pikomanu workers camp, later to become the Kawatiri Railway Station. The station functioned as a rail depot for 5 years between 1926 – 1931. For more information about Murchison check out Murchison travel guide for inspiration.

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Part of the track runs parallel with the busy highway watch kids as it is not securely fenced from the road.

For information about camping check Kawatiri campsite – Nelson/Tasman.

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For a more detailed description of the walk check out  Kawatiri Trail

For more information about walking tracks check out West Coast walks and hikes, places to go and lace up the hiking boots.

  1. LYELL CEMETERY – UPPER BULLER GORGE

Highlights

  • Trying to decipher the tragic stories of loss fading on the tombstones
  • Victorian cemetery where nature is taking over
  • The sense of peace in the unforgettable place of historic endeavour

Forgotten in a quiet corner of State Highway 6 is a short walk through a historic cemetery. The walk passes the remains of a vanished community. View headstones, Victorian ornate iron fencing and trees and bush reclaim the cemetery with over 30 burial plots. This evocative walk is part of the Great Coast Road, West Coast road trip Westport to Greymouth.

  • Length: 320 metres from roadside signpost
Routeburn Track, New Zealand
Routeburn Track

For more information about walking tracks check out West Coast walks and hikes, places to go and lace up the hiking boots.

Croesus Battery, West Coast, New Zealand @Shellie Evans
Croesus Battery @Shellie Evans
  1. CROESUS BATTERY – UPPER BULLER GORGE

HIGHLIGHTS

  • You are walking on part of the ‘Old Ghost Road’ , a multiple day mountain bike / walking trail following the footsteps of 19th century miners.
  • The former dray road started at Lyell and finished on the West Coast, Seddonville. The distance was approximately 80 km
  • Surrounded by glorious dappled light filtered by native mountain beech forest
  • You are surrounded by pretty beach forest
  • Look for information signage for Maori Bar, the site of the first gold strike in 1862. There is a tunnel which later miners drove through solid rock to dewater the creek bed for easier mining.

From the Lyell Cemetery follow signs for Croesus Battery and walk through the history of gold mining on the West Coast. Look out for a reef of “hungry” (non-auriferous) quartz which appears in the track side cutting.  From there it is 600 m to a point overlooking the old battery, reached via a track and steps.  Also on the creekside site is a berdan dish, which revolved to crush quartz using heavy steel balls, and relics of an unusual turbine which drove all the machinery.is the old dray road that connected them all, the remnants of the Croesus Battery with other gold mining relics scattered about and the remains of Lyell Cemetery. The area is managed by the Department of Conservation, New Zealand. This walk is part of the Great Coast Road, West Coast road trip Westport to Greymouth.

  • Length: 2 km
  • Duration: 45 minutes
Lyell Cemetery, New_Zealand @WikimediaCommons
Lyell Cemetery @WikimediaCommons

For more information about walking tracks check out West Coast walks and hikes, places to go and lace up the hiking boots.

Denniston Plateau plaques, New Zealand
Denniston Plateau plaques
  1. COALBROOKDALE WALK – DENNISTON PLATEAU

Unearth another fascinating slice of history on the Denniston plateau. The popular Brakehead walk is a great introduction to history yet the Coalbrookdale walk is another glimpse into the past. It is unforgettable with informative signage describing the cable-car rope system for carrying coal down the notoriously steep incline. The walk is a gentle slope with a well maintained track. In part the walk is following the original cable-car rope incline path. View a largely intact mine fanhouse and other places of interest. Combine with a Denniston Plateau, Westport what to see and do.

  • Length: 1 km

Be prepared for changeable weather on the Denniston Plateau.

INTERESTING FACT

The Denniston Plateau surface is unforgiving solid rock. With over 2,000 residents in its heyday, many deaths met the long journey (usually in a coal wagon) to Westport. It was impossible to dig a cemetery plot on the Plateau.

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Check out Denniston Plateau details, getting there and what to do nearby in Westport.

For more information about walking tracks check out West Coast walks and hikes, places to go and lace up the hiking boots.

Denniston coal wagons, West Coast, New Zealand
Denniston coal wagons
Kawatiri River trail, West Coast, New Zealand @westcoastrewardsnz
Kawatiri River trail @westcoastrewardsnz
  1. KAWATIRI RIVER TRAIL – WESTPORT

Highlights

  • Wharf views of the massive Buller Kawatiri River
  • Harbour loop stunning photo moments of the town, river and surrounding mountains
  • Find shingles beach and Kawatiri Beach Reserve for a quick dip

It’s unforgettable looking at a massive river as it battles its way to the sea. The sheer volume of water surging against the floodwalls is slightly scary. The Kawatiri River trail (KRT) is a walking and cycle trail that runs alongside the Buller-Kawatiri River, before linking the town with the nearby North Beach. As you walk the Kawatiri trail you will grasp an idea on the impact of the river on the life of the town. For ideas on what to do in Westport, South Island check Westport travel guide – Best Bits.

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Great photo moments at the wharf looking towards the Floating Basin boardwalk.

For more information about walking tracks check out West Coast walks and hikes, places to go and lace up the hiking boots.

  1. GRANITY DAM – GRANITY-MILLERTON RD

Abandoned, a road closed off to vehicular traffic with enormous concrete barriers. The closed road is safe to walk as far as the Millerton Granity Creek bridge. To further explore Millerton, the hilltop coal mining settlement, now largely abandoned retrace steps. Follow the newly constructed road to Millerton. Millerton Bathhouse walk explores  the concrete shell of the bathhouse behind the town and is the beginning of a number of short walks to mine entrances, abandoned buildings and mining relics.

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Combine with a day trip to Denniston Plateau, Westport what to see and do.

Decaying busstop Millerton, West Coast, New Zealand
Decaying busstop Millerton

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The sense of the lush temperate rainforest taking over the abandoned road.
  • A stunning waterfall
  • Glimpses of the very steep incline (rail tracks) for coal wagons aptly sums up the hazardous nature of coal mining
  • Sweeping panoramic views to the coast and Karamea headlands.

Warning: entering abandoned tunnels is dangerous.

Westport to Millerton to Stockton Mine entrance via ‘Grand Canyon’.

For more information about walking tracks check out West Coast walks and hikes, places to go and lace up the hiking boots.

  1. WILD WEST COAST TAURANGA BAY – WESTPORT

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Lycra clad surfers battling the elements
  • Observing massive trees (storm damage) deposited at high tide mark. The sheer power of the sea to inflict damage is very evident
  • The beauty of sunset as the sea, sky and iron sands merge into greys and orange tinted light

Driftwood, iron tinted sand, wide sweeps of ocean and the occasional surfer is the perfect recipe for quiet spaces to stroll along a beach. Tauranga Bay is a well known surfing destination. Nine mile beach has classic West Coast ocean swells where the might of the sea dominates the horizon. For more ideas check Westport travel guide – Best Bits.

Tauranga Bay, West Coast, New Zealand @Wcsurf
Tauranga Bay @Wcsurf

For more information about walking tracks check out West Coast walks and hikes, places to go and lace up the hiking boots.

Ngakawau coal terminus for Stockton mine, New Zealand
Ngakawau coal terminus for Stockton mine
  1. HECTOR & NGAKAWAU

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Fossick for gemstones on iron sand beaches
  • Become impressed at the power of climate change to erode seawalls, foreshore. The power of massive ocean surges as it gobbles up land
  • Surfcast in uncrowded spaces

Hector and Ngakawau are two tiny settlements at the mouth of the Ngakawau River in the West Coast region of New Zealand. The historic coal mining settlements are ghosts of their former selves. Coal continues to dominate the economy as you look at Ngakawau and the massive Stockton Mine railway depot and its coal wagons. It is a walk through 19th – mid 20th  century industrial might.

NOTE

The Charming Creek walkway follows the south (right) bank of the river along an abandoned railway line through the Ngākawau gorge.

  1. CHARMING CREEK WALKWAY – TOP WALK

What a great name for a trail, you want to go simply because of the ‘name’ Charming. The trail is shared between cyclists and walks and follows an abandoned bush tramline to the old mining settlement of Seddonville. The track delves into hand picked tunnels, over suspension bridges with great shots of the Mangatini Falls, abandoned mining and mill sites, and the boulder-strewn Ngākawau River Gorge. The trail is currently split between Charming Creek North and Charming Creek South. The 5.5km (one-way) northern section will take you from the historic Charming Creek mine site to the falls via Mumm’s Mill, where you’ll find a sawmill steam engine, and Watson’s Mill, home to more rusty relics.

The 800m (one-way) southern section leads to the remains of a Ruston & Hornsby Rail Tractor.

Waterfall in Charming Creek walkway, West Coast, Karamea, New Zealand
Waterfall in Charming Creek walkway
Charming creek, Westport, New Zealand @Miles Holden
Charming creek @Miles Holden

INTERESTING FACT

The extremely rare Ngākawau Gorge Daisy grows only in this area.

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Check out CHARMING CREEK WALK  – for details about getting there and walk highlights.

For more information about walking tracks check out West Coast walks and hikes, places to go and lace up the hiking boots.

  1. THE FENIAN TRAIL – KARAMEA

Highlights

  • Fungi foragers in for a treat especially when it’s damp (most of the time)
  • Easy grade walking tracks through mixed mountain beech forest
  • Deep green lush fern gullies

Tracks lead from a carpark onto easy well formed trails. For walking inspiration check out The Fenian — Karamea Information Centre.

The Fenian, New Zealand @Karamea Information Centre
The Fenian trail @Karamea Information Centre
Heaphy Track, New Zealand @Karamea Information Centre
Heaphy Track @Karamea Information Centre

In the late 1860s miners began fossicking for gold in the Fenian, and cut a bridle track into the workings. Today we now enjoy a series of easy-access, easy-grade walking tracks into this area, through mixed beech/podocarp forest. The walk is a well known haunt for fungi foragers however you do need to know your mushrooms from poisonous fungi. For inspiration what to do in Karamea check out Westport to Karamea road trip, travel guide, things to do: Best Bits. For more information about walking tracks check out West Coast walks and hikes, places to go and lace up the hiking boots.

TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION

Recommended

  • Insect repellent
  • Sturdy footwear
  • Waterproof layer

BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDE

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