Rahu River, Victoria Forest Park
Image: Steve Reekie | ©
Located in the West Coast region
Covering an area of 206,000 hectares Victoria Forest Park incorporates the Victoria and Brunner Ranges and the upper catchments of the Inangahua, Maruia and Upper Grey Rivers.
There are several ecological areas and a wildlife corridor.
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.
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.
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.
Reefton can be accessed by using SH6 and SH69 from the north; from Canterbury using SH7 and from Greymouth using SH7.
The Big River Quartz Mine is 30km south of Reefton, in the Victoria Forest Park. Walking access is either from Waiuta or Lewis Pass Highway 11 km east of Reefton. 4WD access is from Reefton via Soldiers Road.
It is important to leave details of your intended routes and expected time of return with a reliable contact.
A reliable compass and a map are recommended for the longer walks and overnight tramps.
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).
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.
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.