From the Ngakawau walkway entrance there is an easy 30 minute walk to the bins along a siding used to shunt loads of timber and coal down to the Ngakawau railway.
Past the bins the track enters the Lower Ngakawau Gorge. Sections of the old wooden centre brake rail are reminders of the difficulty of controlling heavy trains on the steep grades.
A suspension bridge provides spectacular vistas up and down the gorge, and an unfolding view of the impressive Mangatini Falls, which is also visible from the track beyond the bridge.
A 50 m tunnel leads to a section of track called The Verandah which offers spectacular views of the river and Upper Ngakawau Gorge. Sounds of white water thundering off the canyon walls add to the drama.
The track then leads to the river flats of Charming Creek and the historic site of Watson’s Mill.
About 400 m past a small suspension bridge spanning the main creek is the sulphur ‘Stink Hole’, seepage from a hole drilled during Government coal prospecting operations in 1910-12.
From Watson's mill follow the old railway tracks through old cutover and farm paddocks to Mumm's Mill site.
The track then leads onto the old Charming Creek mine entrance and carpark.
There are two points of access to the walkway. The southern end is clearly signposted from the main highway at Ngakawau, 35 km north-east of Westport.
The northern end is through Seddonville and 10 km along a gravel road to the walkway entrance at the abandoned Charming Creek mine site.
The track is easily walked in either direction if transport arrangements can be made. Otherwise a return walk from either end is a great way to spend a day.
This ride will take you through bush lined corridors, past rapids foaming with water in the Ngakawau Gorge, and over historic railway formations. There may be sharp or rusty metal remnants along the track.
Expect to dismount from time to time as you navigate the swing bridge at Mangatini Falls or when clambering up the rock steps by Irishman's tunnel.
For mountain biking enthusiasts Charming Creek was rated by the Kennett Brothers as a 3 star ride - highly recommended ride which they enjoyed.
This is a shared-use track. Follow the mountain bikers code: respect others, respect the rules, respect the track.
Nature and conservation
In the steepest, most confined section of the gorge, the hardy daisy-like Celmisia morganii flowers from December to January. This is the only known habitat for this rare and protected species.
History and culture
Minining relics along Charming Creek Walkway
Image: Shellie Evans ©
Along the way you will see reminders of the past mining and milling operations from the early 1900's. Historic features include tunnels, sawmill and coal mine remains. A scenic highlight is a suspension bridge giving views of the impressive Mangatini Falls.
At Watson’s Mill, steam boilers and other rusty relics can be found lying amongst the regenerating bush.
At the Charming Creek mine entrance and carpark, the first feature seen is the fan that drew foul air from the the underground workings. Next is the bathhouse shell, followed by collapsed remains of old coal bins near the sealed mine mouth.
At Mumm's Mill site, the sawmill steam engine and other relics are under cover at the mill site, with trolleys and a steam log hauler nearby.
Know before you go
Safety is your responsibility. Ensure you wear sturdy footwear and suitable clothing. Drinking from the streams is not advisable due to the high mineral content. Keep out of old mine tunnels as they may contain poisonous gases or have unstable roof formations.
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.
Charming Creek is enjoyed by multi users including walkers, runners and mountain bikers and is also home to a range of native wildlife and birds including kiwi.
When enjoying a day out with your dog, follow these simple guidelines:
- keep your dog under control, preferably with a leash, at all times
- a dog out of sight is a dog out of control
- carry a leash and use it
- ensure that your dog does not disrupt other peoples enjoyment of the walkway
- clean up after your dog.