Many New Zealanders are descendants of miners who pioneered Coal mining on the West Coast - many of them at Denniston. Readers of Jenny Patrick’s “Denniston Rose” also make the journey to Denniston to see where it all took place.
Used since 1884 the Bridle Track originally was the only means to reach Denniston. The only other way by coal wagon on the Incline. Traveling north from Westport, turn right at Waimangaroa toward Denniston.
Turn left at sign: Conn’s Creek. The track starts at a small car park and picnic area and is well sign posted. Through a mixture of regenerating and mature forest the track becomes increasingly steeper.
About 3 quarters of the way up, shortly after a wooden bridge, a small side track leads to Middle Brake. Looking up and down the incline here will give an insight of this amazing engineering feat.
Return back to the main track and zigzag up. Pass the initial site of the Denniston settlement and finish up top at the Brake Head.
A small shelter with seats, information panels and photos can be found. At this point the coal wagons once were pushed over the edge.
The short walk to ‘the Camp’ and the Banbury Arch starts just past the old coal wagons. Allow 6 hours.
The Banbury Arch is a good example of the skills required to enable the transportation of coal to the Denniston Incline. The Banbury Mine was conveniently situated, just 800m from the Brake Head.
The Banbury Arch carried a 2 lane tramway leading straight into the mine entrance. The walk to the Banbury Arch starts past the coal wagons (heading inland).
A sign and small platform marks the place where to look up and admire. Spare a thought for the endurance and strength required to build this masterpiece by hand.
On the way back a detour can be taken to ‘the Camp’. Allow 0.5 hour.
Drive up the windy road from Waimangaroa to Denniston, turn right at the top.
Past the historic town site of Denniston clearly sign posted: Burnett’s Face, Coalbrookdale. Park at the top end of Burnett’s Face, wander past building sites, cross the bridge, turn right and follow the old rail track.
It is an easy walk to the fan house which ventilated the Whareatea and Cascade sections of the mine.
Other features are a tunnel, numerous (unsafe) mine entrances, house and mining relics and some fine stone walling.
From halfway back an alternative return is possible along an old road across the creek. Allow 1.5 hours.
Drive up the windy road from Waimangaroa to Denniston, turn right at the top. Past the historic town site of Denniston clearly sign posted: Burnett’s Face, Coalbrookdale.
Park at the top end of Burnett’s Face, wander past historic building sites, cross the bridge, turn left straight across from the start of the Coalbrookdale Walk. The track has been restored on private initiative.
A beautiful walk, starting at the historic site of Burnett’s Face, then winding through gently rolling country and eventually, rather steeply, following a spur right up to the summit of Mt. William.
Tui and Kereru are regularly seen and heard and the playful kea will keep you company at the summit. Allow 3 hours, but take some time for the views and to explore.
Millerton and Stockton
In Granity, travelling north, just before the boundary turn right for the steep ascend to Millerton and Stockton. The road is steep and narrow and offers beautiful views of the coastline.
Stockton is a fully operation Open Cast Coal Mine which is closed to the public unless you join a tour with ‘Outwest Tours’.
Out West Tours offers an excellent wild West Coast experience, taking you off the beaten track on a journey into the wild heart of the land.
Enjoy spectacular landscapes and travel historic mining trails as you relax in one of their fully air-conditioned four-wheel-drive vehicles. Tours available most days and can include a visit to one of the Southern Hemispheres larges open cast coal mines.
Web www.outwest.co.nz Tel 03 789 6883
Bath House at Millerton
As the road levels out at the forks take the middle gravel track sign posted: historic mine sites. Past the last private access (no. 42) turn right and park.
The remains of the miner’s bath house have an information panel, showing trails and photos. Literally follow the steps of the miners to the mine entrances. Allow 1.5 hours.
Charming Creek Walkway
The Charming Creek walkway is not a loop track unless you cycle it which is allowed and is a worthwhile option.
However walking it in its entirety gives the feeling of covering new ground all the time, even on the return journey. Start from Ngakawau, sign posted from SH67. Large volumes of timber and coal have been extracted here.
This has been instrumental to the initial successful establishment of Westport as a port. Mine sites and timber mills are on its route. Interpretation panels give detailed information.
Mangatini Falls are reached within 45 minutes from the Ngakawau starting point.
From Westport travel north along SH67. Cross the Mohikinui River Bridge and turn immediately left.
The metal road will get you to the ‘Gentle Annie Campsite and driftwood covered beach 3KM away. The track starts past the manager’s house and climbs up to level out at Gentle Annie Point.
Carry on to a fork that either takes you to a point with wonderful coastal views or drops down to a deserted beach.
From here explore as much as you wish but watch the tides. Allow 2 hours but make it a day if you have the time.
Lake Hanlon is nestled on a terrace at the northern foot of the Karamea Bluffs. This wonderful secluded and placid lake was formed after the 1929 earth quake.
Head North towards Karamea (and off the area map) on SH67 over the Karamea Bluffs. About 8 km south of Little Wanganui the lake is clearly sign posted at a small car park.
It is a loop track and easiest done anti clockwise. Muddy at the best of times but well worth it. Allow 1 hour