Blink, and you will miss it, this is the modern day Charleston. Charleston, and in 1866, 1200 people called it home. 1869, and the town had a population of 18,000 people. The main street had 80 HOTELS, 2 concert halls, and 3 Breweries. Every store in town held a wholesale licence to sell "fermented and spirituous liquors in quantities of not less than 2 gallons" 1914, World War 1 started and the Miners downed tools and went to war.
Today, Gold is still mined here, by the owner, whos Grandfather established the mine in 1866. He still uses 19th century equipment.
We paid our entrance fee, then went for a wander around, going in and out of the Tunnels that were like Rabbit warrens. The old tunnels is where the gold bearing ore was mined. In front of the opening is a stamping battery, rebuilt on the original site, which crushed the ore to release the gold from the iron rich sand. We could have ridden an old ore tram through the old tunnels, but we didn't!
There are bush walks, native orchids and local fossils on display. Also, in Manuka Cottage, Manuka Oil (Leptospermun scoparium) which is said to have antifungal and antibacterial properties is for sale.
Allow 30 - 40 minutes to have a look around, children will probably love darting in an out of the many tunnels!
Of interest was that this mine once had more than 300 stampers working here, and the mine was worked 24 hours daily. The mine produced four million ounces of gold in total!
4km north of Charleston.
On the road from SH 6 Westport to Punakaiki. 22km south of Westport, 38km north Pancake Rocks.
Open: All year daily 9- 4
ADMISSION IN 2008 Adults $10, Children (0-15) free.
Still continuing our journey in Buller Gorge, we came to the surprising Maruia Falls near Murchison.
The falls are not high, only a 10m drop, but they are long and impressive as the water was rushing over them.
These falls were created by a large earthquake in 1929 which redirected the river over the edge of one of its old channels. Initially there was no waterfall as the old channel was silted up but gradually the river has been hollowing out the old channel.
It was really hard to get a good photo, so I ended up buying a postcard!
One of the sights on the Buller Gorge road trip, is the amazing "Hawks Crag>'
It is where the road has been cut into a cliff that drops into the Buller River. In 1955, two elderly prospectors, Frederick Cassin and Charles Jacobsen, made the first discovery of uranium on the roadside, about a kilometre downstream.
It is narrow, one land road, and has a give way sign, only one vehicle at a time.
The drive along the edge of the Buller river in the Buller Gorge, is beautiful! The Maori name for this river is "Kawatiri," which means "deep and swift", the river lives up to its reputation as it has the greatest flood discharge in New Zealand.
It was named after Charles Buller, a man much involved in the colonisation of New Zealand in the 1800s. The Buller river travels 169ks from its source at lake Rotioti to Westport in the Tasman Sea.
The road is not a speed track, it is narrow in places, and twisty, the driver has to keep his eyes on the road. Luckily, it was quiet, so we could drive extra slow without any hassles which gave the driver a chance to glance at the drop dead gorgeous scenery!
You can travel through to Murchison to Nelson, or to Maruia Springs, Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura.
This is a very scenic drive, one that I loved, and hope to do again one day!
This is an Adventure and Heritage Park, located about 1 hour from Westport,on State Highway 6, near the town of Murchison. This is the home of New Zealand's longest swingbridge which straddles the Buller River.
Different adventure activities here are........
To walk the swingbridge and go walking $5
Goldpanning, including tuition $10
Comet line (Flying Fox ) $25 A ride high above the river at high speed
Superman ride $35
Jet boat $75 This 40minute ride takes you to the base of Ariki Falls. Departs from 10-4pm during the summer months.
These aree 2008 prices
This beautiful spot has an infamous history with an unsafe viewing platform deemed responsible for the deaths of several students around 10 years ago. Having said that this place is a very safe place to visit given the high profile of the area. If you find yourself at Punakaiki you are close to Cave Creek.
These two small towns are north of Westport and are known for their arts & crafts. A funny fact is that the locals determine the location of their homes as the number of steps from the Pub! In Granity is the trun-off to get to Millerton which has an interesting old bowling club though this is now a private residence - the owners are normally okay for you to have a roll-up though!! Further up the road is Stockton.
At Ngakawau is the start of the Charming Creek walkway which takes you up the hill via a disused coal railway. A nice walk with great views out over the Sea and the bush clad hills. Once done you can stop at the Ngakawau Pub for some food (good steaks & Whitebait patties in season) and a game of Pool.
Have a look at the website below for more detail on the walk and area.