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Published: March 8th 2010
Quite day at Reefton - a bit cool today! Lovely surprise visit from Les and Christine, Bill and Yvonne (Fire Chiefs, Kerikeri and Kaikohe). They knew we were in SI, but no idea where, and happened to see our 4x4 in the camping ground - how amazing is that! They had been in Christchurch at the National Fire Service conference.
3/3/10 - Drove up to Reefton lookout, where we met the MacKay twins, (do you know any adult twins in their late 50s who still address EXACTLY the same) - we do now! They were very nice and gave us lots of info about the area as they had hunted and felled trees and cut tracks all over the area. A one and a half hour loop walking track at Alborns Mine proved to be interesting with old mines, two truck bodies, a
1915 Leyland and aGarford, which were used to winch coal up and then down the incline to the coal bin. We did our bit for mother earth by picking the ragwort on the roadside. That evening at the RSA we met Howard who had competitively ridden motorbikes for 51 years. He had ridden with a mutual
Howard and Us
Howard and his lovely cottage est. 1871.
friend of Jim and Clare’s and had known Burt Munro, inviting us to look at his collection the next day. That night a performance at the Wilson’s Hotel by Delgirls proved entertaining.
After packing up the camp, we took up Howard’s offer of coffee at his place at Black’s Point. The work he had done on his cottage, originally built in 1871, was amazing. When he had bought it, there were cows walking through. Howard had DKW bikes, Hondas, BSAs and other racing bikes as well as a 1985 Porche car which he had converted to right hand drive. His racing bike does 140hp at the rear wheel (I don’t understand that but Dave was quite impressed). Dave helped him for an hour, lining the inside of his shed.
That afternoon entailed a drive up the Big River - an abandoned gold mining town about 25km from Reefton. The last 20km took 2 hrs up an old dray road built in the 1880s- it is pretty rough and windy with big drop offs and sharp corners. We set up camp on a small knoll overlooking the ghost town, actually on the site of the Post Office. All that
Big River Mill
Stationery, under-slung Robey steam engine at Big River Mill
is left is the remains of the stamper, two falling down cottages, the remains of the cyanide tanks, but up on the hill are the remains of a big steam boiler which drove the winding machine to winch the gold out of the mine, and above that was the poppet head. Those interested can see more detail at www.reefton.co.nz/bigriver.html
Woke up to ice on the tent - however it warmed up as soon as the sun rose. We did a two hour return walk to see the poppet head, the dam and sawmill.
6/3/10 - Once the tent was dry we packed up and drove back to Reefton - passing some young guys near the track entrance who had obviously pulled one of the big DOC signs out and turned it completely around. Nevertheless “Do-the-right-thing Dave” called into the local DOC man and told him about it. A diversion to another ghost town called Waiuta west of Reefton proved interesting with mining having stopped abruptly in the 1950s when the main mine shaft collapsed.
Drove to Ahaura Domain camping ground for the night.
7/3/10 - Attended Art in the Park at Shantytown, then drove up and
over Mt Fox 4x4 track. On the way Dave spoke to Jeff Morris who was a farmer and contractor, goldmining on his 200 acres of privately owned river bed, below where the historic goldmining had been done at Dunganville, inland from Shantytown. He was using a digger and rotary screen. The goldmining profit covered the reforming of the tailings back to better than originally. Drove to Greymouth where we had booked two nights at $51 per night through www.grabanight.co.nz.
Cruizy day in Greymouth - quite a nice town. Evening walk along riverside.
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