Waiuta, the town at the top of the West Coast’s richest gold mine, grew from the region’s last great gold discovery, made back in 1905.
Today, the town site is almost empty of buildings but still full of memories and history. Within its forest-surrounded setting, many mining relics remain from the days when hundreds worked there, and a few of the town’s original buildings still stand, including the former police station, three cottages and the old barber shop. Waiuta is a perfect spot for nature lovers, historians, and photographers alike.
Appointments can be made for a tour of Waiuta, to bring Waiuta and its mining history alive. taking you back in time to absorb the colourful history and activity of the place.
For those who want to explore on their own, Waiuta offers a range of walks around the town’s streets and nearby mine and battery sites. Within half an hour you can visit the site of the gold discovery, imagine the children swimming in the town’s ‘Olympic’ pool, contemplate the work that went on around the Blackwater Mine and pass by the old police station.
If you have more time to spare, you can either drive or climb up the hill to the Prohibition mine and mill site where you can also marvel at the views of the Paparoa Range and Southern Alps in the distance. On a clear day you can see Mount Cook. Then stand over what was New Zealand’s deepest mineshaft, 879 metres straight down, and ponder that the last 300 metres were below sea level.
In the opposite direction a well-formed track descends to the site of the Snowy Battery where the quartz was once crushed to free the gold, and the cyanide tanks that were used to get the finest particles. The battery can be combined with a riverside bush walk to the site of a small hydro-electric power house, then up a bush track to town, completing a round trip of about 2½ hours.
To enjoy even more of Waiuta, you can stay overnight in the fully equipped Waiuta Lodge.
Waiuta is also the starting point for the Reefton Goldfields Journey that can take you to such legendary mining centres as Big River, Golden Lead, Murray Creek and Kirwans Hill.