What to do and where to go in the South Island
The town of Kumara is a rock star, complete with an enormous Rock to prove the point. Kumara’s location is ideal for the West Coast Wilderness Trail which runs directly through Kumara. There are several magnificent day trips from Kumera from gold mining trails to exploring Lake Brunner and temperate forest trails. Information plaques adorn heritage sites and buildings. Cafes, a historic hotel Theatre Royal and the accommodation providers are great reasons to stop and stay a while longer in Kumara.
WHAT TO DO,HIGHLIGHTS
- West Coast Wilderness Trail short sections can be explored (Bike hire Colls Sports World, Greymouth)
- Explore town’s heritage precinct and find out where King Dick had his home
- Find Londonderry Rock and explore short walks from Taylor’s Hill (15 minute loop walk) and the Payn Track (former tram track through regenerating bush)
- Find the historic public baths (once the biggest in the country)
- Explore the town’s cemetery and ponder the fate of some of the town’s inhabitants
There are several short walks accessible from the township including Taylor’s Hill (15 min loop) short steep track offers panoramic, elevated view of both Kumara, the beautiful Taramakau River and surrounding mountain ranges. The Payne Track is an old tram track that meanders through regenerating native bush.
Londonderry Rock trail
The easy track starts with lush, moss damp forest contrasting with large piles of tailing stones. The large mounds of stones are stark evidence of the destructive force and power of sluicing for gold. It is extraordinary to think the majority of stones were carefully stacked by hand. The weight of each stone is easily over 20 -35 kg. As you round another tailing and approach a narrow stone tunnel you are struck with the size of the Londonderry Rock. The rock is 8 m in height and estimated to be 3,500 tonnes. It is a glacial relic deposited by the Taramakau Glacier and deposited when the glacier retreated. The rock was dislodged by sluicing around 1880 and fell with a reverberating thud that local stories narrate stopped the local post office clock. The massive boulder was left where it was found as miners were unable to move or break into smaller pieces. The amount of soil, rocks and stones moved is clearly illustrated by the fact originally the Londonderry Rock was buried.
Kumara Cemetery (Greenstone Road) is the story of the inhabitants, of early death, of loss of life due to accidents and perils of nineteenth century lives. The cemetery is atmospheric with Victorian lace iron fencing, broken stone angels and sectioned according to denomination.
- Kumara historic public baths. Built during the Great Depression constructed from repurposed tailings (stones) dislodged during gold sluicing operations. The huge mounds of tailings found a purpose with a cricket pitch and basketball court. The location today requires imagination as the actual baths have largely disappeared from sight. The most interesting thing is the plaque. The pools were closed when rusting pipes caused a loss of water supply in the 1940’s. The rusting pipe is still visible.
The often deserted ocean Kumara Beach (Serpentine) is just 5 minutes drive from Kumara. This is the official starting location of the annual Coast to Coast adventure race.
Picnic at Kapitea Reservoir/Dillman’s Dam (accessible via Stafford Loop Road) and enjoy the quiet. There is a compostable toilet. Self-contained campervans and motorhomes are welcome. Freedom camping is not permitted.
At night check out the glow worms just behind the Theatre Royal Hotel in disused mine shafts. Ask the hotel staff for directions. And remember to look up at the night skies. There are low levels of light pollution.
ABOUT THE KUMARA TIMES, The newspaper published in 1876 continued for 40 years. Daily life is documented, providing glimpses of the thoughts and feelings of locals during the tumultuous gold rush era.
WHAT TO DO NEARBY
- Lake Brunner exploration and Carew Falls. Signposted on the Kumara-Inchbonnie Rd the short uphill track to the Falls is an easy well maintained track. The waterfalls are magnificent. The track is signposted with plaques describing the flora and fauna.
Length: 1.8 km
Duration: 1 hour (return)
- Explore the nearby Goldsborough, Waimea and Stafford gold mining trails and fossick for gold in the local creek. A must do is the intriguing Tunnel Terrace Walk where the ghosts of miners linger.
- King Dick Seddon, entrepreneur, Major of Kumara & longest serving New Zealand Prime Minister (13 years).
- Kumara Beach is the official start line for the Coast to Coast iconic endurance race
WHAT TO DO WITH KIDS
- Modern adventure playground at western end of Kumara. Kumara Sports Ground has public toilets.
- Londonderry Rock is a short easy walk for kids and the rock is spectacularly enormous
- Trip to Goldborough to try your hand at gold fossicking. Remember a change of clothing is a great idea as you swirl your pan in the creek’s running water getting very wet and slightly chilly
WHERE TO TAKE THE BEST SELFIE
- Actually Londonderry Rock is too large, you will need someone to take the photo otherwise it’s just a mass of grey rock
- Cemetery has evocative graves
- Backdrop of beautiful Theatre Royal facade, Victorian glory in all its splendour
- Annual Kumara Gala Day, November
- Kumara Residents Trust raises funds for local projects through raffles, stalls, children’s activities and lovely cups of tea and home baking in our Memorial Hall. Along with the usual market stalls, visitors are treated to some uniquely Kumara events – such as the “Golden Mile” vintage bike race or the street parade for those dressed in period costume
- Annual Kumara Racing Club hosts one of the most popular race meetings held in New Zealand when the Kumara Gold Nuggets are raced for at the once a year meeting in January.
WHO TURNED UP AND NAMED THE PLACE?
- Kumara’ is believed to be a corruption of the Maori words “Kohe Mara” meaning the blossom of tataramoa (bush lawyer). During the height of ‘the rush’, Kumara had close to 50 pubs, a hospital, courthouse, police station and its own newspaper. For pre-European Maori the area was part of the seasonal trails to the West Coast resources
WHAT KEEPS THE PLACE TICKING?
- 285 (2018)
- Adorable cute town with passionate locals extolling the places to go and what to do
Personality plus accommodation in the heart of Kumara. The West Coast’s only restored gold-rush miners’ hotel offers a variety of accommodation, welcoming restaurant and bar with hearty meals, cosy fireplace and secure bike storage. Hotel rooms include Victorian decor, antique furnishings and modern amenities. The replica Miners Cottages, McEnaneys ensuite cottage rooms and the Old Bank of New Zealand are perfect for cycling couples and groups.
TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION
- Gold fossicking Department of Conservation, advice and information on gold fossicking.