Big River Tracks

Image: Julie Mudge | ©


Explore a remarkable array of goldmining relics in Big River, one of the most intact mining areas.

Track overview

Mountain biking

Advanced: Grade 4

Other activities

  • Four wheel driving
  • Horse riding

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


Detail of Big River poppet head.
Big River poppet head detail

Big River engine house.
Big River engine house

Big River is at the heart of the "Quartzopolis Goldfields". You can easily spend a full day exploring the old township and mine site, including the restored poppet head, steam winding engine and boiler plant. A little further afield is the old dam site and old sawmill.

Waiuta - Big River

Time: 3 hr 30 min - 5 hr one way
 11 km

The track is signposted from “Pro Road” Waiuta. It follows an old benched pack track and passes the Big River South Mine, the St George Mine and stamper battery, and other old mining sites. Return via the same track or continue on to Inangahua River or to Reefton on the 4WD track.

Big River – Inangahua swingbridge

Time: 6- 7 hr one way
Distance: 10 km

The journey passes the Golden Lead Battery historic site and joins the Progress Water Race Track, to finish at the Inangahua swingbridge picnic area. Parts of the track are quite steep and become more difficult in wet weather. Rewards include fine views and forest changes plus historic relics including coalmine trams, sawmills, hut sites and a quartz battery.

Reefton - Big River 4WD road

Time: 3 - 4 hr driving / 7 - 8 hr walking one way
25 km

A four wheel drive track starts 9 km along Soldiers Road, after the Alborns Track carpark. Soldiers Road turnoff is signposted on SH7, just south of Reefton.

The track, twisting through regenerating beech forest, passes many mining sites before opening out to the barren Big River settlement. This track includes sections of gravel road and rougher rocky sections, as well as stream crossings which flood in heavy rain. It is for experienced four wheel drivers only. Enjoy lunch or an overnight stay at Big River Hut. Drive out the same way.

The road can also be used as a walking and mountain biking track.

Mountain biking

Reefton - Big River is a challenging ride on a rough 4WD track. It includes mixed surfaces of gravel, mud and rock with some steep descents.

Big River - Waiuta is technical benched single track that continues on from the end of the Big River 4WD track. Expect to experience a challenging range of surfaces from mud and corduroy to mixed flowing sections and smooth, gentle downhill.

Getting there

Walking access is either from Waiuta or the Lewis Pass highway 11 km east of Reefton. 4WD access is from Reefton via Soldiers Road.

Four wheel driving

The drive on the 4WD road into Big River is a challenging and classic trip. 

Horse riding

The 4WD road into Big River from Soldiers Rd is a long and challenging horse ride for experienced riders.

Know before you go

Longer walks and overnight tramps call for something extra in terms of stamina, equipment, experience and provisions.

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 Reefton Visitor Centre for the latest weather and track information.

Wasps can be common from December to April, carry antihistamine if you are allergic to their stings.

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.


Reefton i-SITE Visitor Information Centre
Phone:   +64 3 732 8391
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   67–69 Broadway
Postal Address:   PO Box 100
Reefton 7851
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