Two recent novels by author Jenny Pattrick have helped inspire a self-guided walking trail and phone app on a remote 19th century mining site at Denniston on the South Island’s West Coast. The trail features events and locations from The Denniston Rose and Heart of Coal.
While researching her books, Ms Pattrick spent considerable time at Denniston, talking to locals and acquainting herself with the geography of the old mining town.
For many decades Denniston was New Zealand's largest producing coal mine. The coal was loaded into railway wagons and lowered by cable down a dramatically steep incline railway. The Denniston Incline was a remarkable feat of early engineering that was referred to as "the eighth wonder of the world".
The miners and their families endured a rugged lifestyle, exposed to the elements on a barren windswept plateau where isolation and difficulties forged a close-knit community of up to 1500 residents. Two houses and restored mining relics are all that remains of the settlement.
Now a Category 1 Historic Place, the Denniston Mine is a tourist attraction with a number of relics and great heritage sites to explore, particularly the railway incline and the township. A 2-hour or 4-hour guided journey underground relives old-time mining life. The rocky plateau offers magnificent views of coastal plains and ocean.