Discover the history behind New Zealand's coal mining industry by visiting DOC-managed historic sites like Benneydale Coal Mine in Waikato and Brunner Mine on the West Coast.

This theme brings together a group of coal mining sites that began with the Brunner Mine of 1862. The three principal New Zealand coalfields were Waikato, West Coast and Southland.

Virtually all the coal mines of this era were underground and were hazardous work places. A number of interesting coal mining sites can be found on lands managed by DOC, including Denniston of 1873, more recently made famous by the book Denniston Rose by Jenny Pattrick. However many of New Zealand's most significant coal mining sites are not on land managed by DOC, and have no heritage protection.

The following sites are actively managed by DOC and developed for visitors:


Waro Limestone Scenic Reserve 


  • Benneydale coal mine

West Coast

Further reading

Smith, Nigel. (2001). Heritage of Industry: discovering New Zealand’s industrial past.  (Reed, Auckland).

Related links

Back to top