Our trip up the West Coast featured a lot of wet weather punctuated with a few brilliant sunny days, and our last night was the most spectacular with heavy rain, strong winds and almost continuous thunder and lightening. We were however snug and warm in our little caravan. We are very pleased that we put in a gas heater before we left home and the extra canvas over our sleeping area gives extra insulation.
Thursday we left the Mokihinui Camping Ground in the rain and travelled down to Westport. On the way we had a short stop outside the Stockton Coal Centre at Ngakawau. The bituminous hard coking coal from the Opencast Mine travels over the hills to the centre in buckets on an overhead ropeway and is then transported to Lyttelton and overseas, mainly for steel production. It was interesting when in hotels etc to see coal being used along with wood in the open fires. Also utes and trailers full of coal going home to fuel fires.
Stockton Coal at Ngakawau. Note the buckets coming down the hill on the overhead rope.
Ute with a load of the best coal New Zealand produces.
At Westport we had several things to do. Restock at the supermarket, post a parcel, fill up with diesel, and visit the cafe for a coffee fix and in line with the weather forecast I was expecting some fine weather in the afternoon but all we got was more rain and most of it quite heavy. After coffee it was off to Inangahua via the Buller Gorge. The Buller River was running high and brown with all the rain we had had. Large logs and debris were being swept down river. Arriving at Inangahua we found that the place we were going to stop at had changed hands and was no longer operating. So it was back down the road a few km and off to Reefton.
Reefton is a really nice town. There seems to be a positive feeling from the residents and it seems the town is going ahead. We parked in the Reefton Hotel parking area, had a quick stroll up town visiting a few shops and the Information Centre. Back to the caravan for a while and then into the pub for a meal. There was a choice of size, small, medium and large. Judy chose a small plate of fish, I chose roast lamb, a medium. When the food arrived I would have said Judy’s was a large, mine was a monster size. Goodness knows what a large serving would have been. I did my best to eat it all but was beaten fair and square.
Parked up at the Reefton Hotel. Picture taken at a rare time when it was not raining.
Friday we went for a walk across the Inangahua River to where the water powered generator once stood. Reefton was the first town in NZ to power lights. Electricity was quickly taken up for lights and then for the local butcher’s mincing machine. The spirit of entrepreneurship still exists in the town and a local lady raised a couple of million dollars locally to set up a distillery. It is doing very well producing a vodka, a couple of gins and a couple of liqueurs. We took a tour of the factory and were quite impressed with the business. They have also bought another still for a whisky. The town also seems to be a magnet for artistic people.
We spent two days in Reefton leaving town and the Wet Coast on Saturday bound for Murchison, where the big earthquake of 1929 took place It was interesting going to the museum and seeing all the photos of the destruction. There was also a video on the disaster. Saturday evening the 1st of June we went out for another meal to celebrate our wedding anniversary.
Snow on the Rahu Saddle en route to Murchison.
Sunday we headed towards Richmond, where we have a homesit starting next Saturday. We are now set up for the night at the Golden Downs Golf Club. We have heard that a stag and doe visit here so will have to have a good lookout in the morning.
Judy on the longest swing bridge in NZ. The slippery floor of the bridge is a steel mesh where below in full view and hearing is the raging Buller River. Judy walked over one handed filming her progress and then stopped in the middle to take some pictures using both hands. My job was to stand at the start on firm footing and take a few photos of her.