Thursday, 15 March 2018

Part 2: Staying with the Averys - Being tourists

 While staying with Leonie and Paul, we did a few touristy things for which the West Coast is renowned. If you haven't already travelled and looked at this part of the country, it is time you did! The Coast doesn't have the same serene beauty as do Wanaka and Queenstown (outside of the town of course) but it is wild and amazingly scenic. It's the juxtaposition of the mountains, then the hills, the narrow coastal plain, and then the sea: it is magical, and the people who live here are too. They are hardy, self reliant and fiercely loyal to their part of NZ, and rightly so.

So, the touristy things:

  1. We drove up to Denniston and Burnett's Face to the former coal mining area. 
    Up at Burnett's Face, looking over to the ranges. Quite a brooding place with the clouds.

    We didn't tell Leonie, but David had to borrow one of Paul's new hi-viz jackets that was left in the Landcruiser we were using - he'd left his own raincoat on the floor inside the front door at the house. He did try to make that my fault, but no way, Jose!
    A memorial to some of the miners who had lived up there and died after the mines closed.

    At the old school, now an information centre and small museum, there was a vast array of rusting equipment/machinery/mining accoutrements that had been gathered up. Even though it is decaying, it still gives an indication of the amount of technology that was in play in the mining industry, even way back then.

    What an impressive job DOC and the local councils have done on restoration of the area and in setting up the interp. (That is what us DOC-ers call it, by the way. As you've no doubt guessed, it is short for interpretation.) The people who lived and worked there were particularly hardy - it was a rugged and lonely place in the ranges, with all of the weather that the geography would dictate - high in the hills (which would qualify as mountains in the UK as being over 2000 feet high), close to the sea, with the next landfall Australia.    
    This is what NZ used to be like - and some West Coast people still operate this way ...
    I did walk on to this platform but couldn't stay out there. It looks steeply down the former incline.
    We were already about 2000 feet above sea level - but look at the range in the background ...

    An example of the pylons and buckets that brought the coal down the hills from the mine down to the Incline.
    Picnic lunch at the information area at Denniston

    The view from the front window back down the coast as we drove back down to sea level.
      There used to be two schools in the area, and one of them was the highest school in the country. If I remember correctly, one piece of the interp quoted the school inspector back in the 1870s saying he wouldn't be returning until there was a proper road up there - he'd had to travel in a wagon on the incline both up and down. A bloody scary prospect! The work in and around the mines and the conditions were dangerous. If you want more info, check out this
  2. From the main road further on from the Denniston turnoff, we saw the railhead for the Stockton Mine which still operates. 
    Stockton railhead

    The cable car with the buckets of coal from the mine back in the hills.
      There is a cable car system that brings the coal from the mine entrance out to the plant at the coast - it was that that caught my eye at Ngakawau. So we went over to find out what it was. It is a large operation that I think used to belong to Solid Energy but is now owned by Bathurst - I have a feeling they are an Australian firm, dammit!
  3. As Mohikinui was not much further on, we headed there next and at the lovely pub/cafe, we had a late lunch (well, the picnic of crudites and hummus at Denniston was yummy, but a toasted sandwich and chips had a certain attraction ...) It has a lovely campsite and several baches. Access to the beach is a bit difficult right now as I think the locals have formed a stopbank of rocks and gravel between the sea and the dirt and grassed stopbank - I need to check, but I think it was done as a defence against the two recent cyclones.
    The double row of stopbanks, complete with my lovely husband.

    Then it was back to the Averys' place for more wine and food ...


Jenny said...

Dennison is an amazing place to visit, full of history and stories on those interp boards. But I certainly wouldn't have been happy living there. Oh, those winters must have been brutal. Glad to see you are enjoying your trip and having fun!

Catherine VK4GH said...

So glad to see these photos of Denniston and Burnett's Face, and that you went up there (see my comment 2 posts back). My father grew up in Burnett's Face where his parents had a general store. He was there from 1922-1939 when most residents had left by then. There is a plaque showing the location of their store/house. We had a lovely sunny day up there, the tiger lillies were in flower, that I think my Nana had planted when there (her favourite flowers) - would they still be there after all this time?