Off the Beaten Track to... Nelson Creek
Once you've reached Greymouth on the West Coast of the South Island, you can follow in the footsteps of nineteenth-century fortune seekers fossicking for gold by following the State Highway 7 north. After 25 kilometres to Nghaere, it's simply a right turn to the Nelson Creek Settlement.
Nelson Creek has had a varied goldmining history from its beginnings in 1865, although at the height of the rush over 1,200 miners were scattered throughout the aptly-named Try Again Terrace (downstream from Nelson Creek). The Nelson Creek area is formed by sandstone layers overlaid by glacial gravels with the gold concentrated in hollows on the sandstone's surface. Ground sluicing was used to wash the gravels out of the working gold face.
You are invited to bring a goldpan and have a go at fossicking in the recreational gold fossicking area at Nelson Creek. However, you should fossick with care and respect for the environment and following the sign-posted guidelines. Hand tools only are allowed.
This area is rich in history (if not in gold) and you will also see the Nelson Creek suspension bridge originally built in 1872. There are also plenty of short walks including the Colls Dam Walk which is suitable for wheelchair access. Pack a picnic, a tent or both and enjoy!
Other Things To Do
- Punakaiki Pancake Rocks & Blowholes Walk – A 20-minute loop walk explores the stunning limestone landscape of so-called pancake rock formations, blowholes and surge pools. Children should be kept under close supervision.
- Monteith's Brewery Visit – Brewing beer in the region since 1868, this popular beer brewer in Greymouth offers fun and informative tours around the brewery complete with tasters.
- Tranz-Alpine Train – Board the train in Greymouth for the 223-kilometre return journey back to Christchurch on the east coast through some of the country's most beautiful alpine scenery.
- Greymouth Motor Cycle Street Race – This exciting motor racing event is run over a right 1.3-kilometre circuit in Greymouth's city centre and is held annually during Labour Weekend (4th Monday in October).
- Shantytown – Head 10 kilometres south of Greymouth to Shantytown to find out even more about the history of gold mining on the West Coast includes: steam train, gold panning and children's playground.
More Gold Mining Adventure
Goldfields Cavalcade - Central Otago (26th February - 5th March 2011)
Join the annual pilgrimage which retraces the footsteps of early New Zealand gold-miners through Central Otago's dramatic, tussock-covered hills on foot, horse and wagon. The 2011 Cavalcade journey will end in Oamaru with a carnival and hoedown. Find out more at http://cavalcade.co.nz/.
To help plan your holiday activities in the West Coast area of the South Island, simply choose from the main categories below: