Victoria Forest Park

Introduction

Victoria Forest Park is the largest park of its type in the country. Covering an area of 206,000 hectares it incorporates the Victoria and Brunner Ranges and the upper catchments of the Inangahua, Maruia and Upper Grey Rivers

Rock climber, Duffys Creek, Victoria Forest Park. Photo: John Edwards.
Rock climber, Duffys Creek, Victoria
Forest Park

There is access to the park via a network of tracks, many dating from the mining days with relics amid regenerated forest. Well known areas that are included in the park are Waiuta, Big River and tracks in and around Blacks Point.

Others lead to untouched landscapes with stunning river, lake and mountain scenery, as well as pristine beech forest. There are several ecological areas and a wildlife corridor.

All the walks surrounding Reefton lie within the Park.

View a photo gallery of Victoria Forest Park.

Features

History

There is little know pre-European settlement in this area and the first know permanent habitation was when Samuel Mackley began farming in the area in 1861.

This changed with the development of quartz gold mining which began in Reefton in 1870 when 50 quartz mining ventures were registered in the first 18 months. Reefton grew into a large town with corresponding growth in supply industries such as farming, timbermilling and coal-mining. Reefton had a telegraph link in 1872 and in 1888 was the first town in New Zealand to have electric lighting for its streets.

The quartz mining industry grew with Waiuta being the biggest mine in the area. It operated until 1951. Today there is a large gold mine just east of Reefton operated by Ocean Gold Ltd. Coal mining is still important in the area.

Geology

Victoria Forest Park is based around the Victoria and Brunner Ranges between the Grey River Valley to the west and the Maruia Valley to the east. The ranges are covered with native vegetation which overlies basement rocks of greywacke/argillites which have been extensively folded and faulted. These are the source of the gold-bearing quartz in the Reefton area.

Flora and fauna

The park contains fine examples of beech forests with red, silver, mountain, black and hard species respresented. Many native bird species can be seen and heard including tui, bellbird, tomtit and robin. Kaka and parakeets are also present. At times great spotted kiwi/roroa can be heard at night.

Location

Access is via the State Highways that surround and dissect the Park as well as a number of secondary roads.

Getting there

Reefton can be accessed by using SH6 and SH69 from the north; from Canterbury using SH7 and from Greymouth using SH7.

Activities

Climbing Climbing
Four wheel driving Four wheel driving
Historic sites Historic sites
Mountain biking and cycling Mountain biking and cycling
Specialist activities Specialist activities

Specialist activities: Gold fossicking

A recreational gold fossicking area has been established at Slab Hut. You are invited to bring a goldpan and have a go at fossicking. No licence is required but your respect is appreciated.

Getting to the gold fossicking area: The Department of Conservation manages a recreational Gold Fossicking Area in part of Slab Hut Creek, which is south of Reefton. See the Crown Minerals website for more detailed information.

Fossick with care for the environment:

  • Be informed of all statutory regulations that govern prospecting activities in New Zealand.
  • Prospect only in the permitted area.
  • Only drive your vehicles on tracks and roads open to the public.
  • Do not remove or damage any shrubs or trees, and minimise damage to ground layer vegetation.
  • Restore the ground as you found it. Backfill any holes you dig and replace any leaf litter as it was as best you can.
  • Equipment for excavation on the land other than hand tools may not be used. Never use explosives.
  • Don't disturb, destroy, interfere with or endanger an archaeological site or place of cultural significance.

Tracks and walks


Walks in this area can take anything from a few minutes to a couple of days. The times given are for walking only, so allow extra for resting and enjoying the views.

The shorter walks can be covered by moderately fit people wearing suitable footwear and equipped with warm, weather-proof clothing; a small first aid kit and something to eat and drink. Longer walks and overnight tramps naturally call for something extra in terms of stamina, equipment, experience and provisions.

Places to stay


The town of Reefton is a convenient place to base yourself when visiting the Victoria Forest Park. It offers a range of accommodation.

Weather

Weather conditions can change rapidly, particularly on the tops. Rain can quickly make even small streams treacherous to cross. Before starting out it is best to check with the Reefton Visitor Centre +64 3 732 8391 for the latest weather and track information.

Plan and prepare

It is important to leave details of your intended routes and expected time of return with a reliable contact.

Maps

A reliable compass and a map are recommended for the longer walks and overnight tramps.

Warning

There are many hazards associated with former mine areas such as exposed shafts and drives, decaying structures and equipment and industrial waste. It is important therefore that you stay on roads and tracks and do not enter tunnels.

If you have any problems or comments on the facilities in this area please pass these onto the Reefton Visitor Centre. If it is a safety issue you may contact 0800 DOCHOTline (0800 362 468).

Look after the environment

All native plants, wildlife, natural features and historic sites are strictly protected. Please take your rubbish away and light fires only in proper fireplaces.

Please check that dogs are permitted in the areas you intend to visit.

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Find out more

Weather

Maps

DOC maps: Discover the outdoors - DOC's key places, campsites, tracks and huts, and visitor centres on a map

Learn more

Safety

Follow the Outdoor Safety Code:
1. Plan your trip
2. Tell someone
3. Be aware of the weather
4. Know your limits
5. Take sufficient supplies

Alerts for West Coast places

Contacts

Reefton Visitor Centre i-SITE Information Centre
Phone:      +64 3 732 8391
Email:   reefton@i-site.org
Full office details
Māwhera / Greymouth Office
Phone:      +64 3 768 0427
Email:   greymouth@doc.govt.nz
Full office details