One of the great things about NZ summers is our long evenings. Stephen and I were taking a little break from the B&B and had headed north to Granity in Buller Bay on the West Coast for a couple of nights. It was early evening by the time we arrived and we really wanted to make the most of our time away so headed up to Millerton for an evening explore and walk. Millerton is high in the mountains above Granity (north of Westport) – a historic coal mining area (yes another one!).
Millerton was mined from the late 1800s through to the 1960s and is now mostly a ghost town although a few of the remaining houses are occupied but the hotels, shops etc are all long gone.
As with many of the old coal and gold mining regions on the West Coast the relics have been left behind and there is much exploring and walking to be done in the area. Millerton is definitely no exception – and one of the more beautiful areas on a good day thanks to the fantastic views.
After the drive up the hill and to the “village” we follow the signs for the car park and information centre. From here you pretty much follow your nose – an obvious track leading off in the bush and around the numerous relics. It starts out with what we’d like to call the stairway to heaven – concrete steps in the middle of nothing and no-where leading to nothing and no-where. You certainly have to let your imagination do the talking here. These steps are a feat in themselves so there was obviously quite a lot in the area in its day.
We take a walk around the old bathhouse – a good indication of the scale of the mining done as this thing is huge! or was anyway….. bits of old machinery still lying around to give you a good feel of yester-year.
A short bush walk and more relics including some of the rails and derelict tunnels – a little collapsed but again still give you a good feel for the area and what was.
Then we start our walk proper – the Millerton Escarpment walk – sounds interesting anyway. On doing a search Escarpment was the name of the mine or the workings. While this track is a single track you can see it was perhaps 4WD at one stage in places. Climb though, whew, thankfully got the hiking shoes on and not the flip-flops!
The boys enjoy the leg stretch – gives them an opportunity to have a good run around, although we never let them out of our sight so maybe run around isn’t the right word – definitely a leg stretch though – for us all actually.
Onwards and upwards – worth it for the views alone. Being up here and looking back down at the village and right out to sea – wow, it is fantastic.
Onwards some more and the track flattens temporarily before another climb begins. There are places where it is hard to see where the track actually goes – we have to stop and look ahead for the marker posts and guess the way on occasions.
This isn’t a loop track, we have to head back the same way we went up so time to turn around and make our way back down. Tummies are starting to rumble and we will eventually run out of daylight.
One more stop to do first though and that is the actual incline itself. A little further round the road – on the old original section of the road and there is a nice walk that takes you to the incline. Many of the coal bins have been left where they stood – a real telling tale of time gone by.
And I was wrong – this time one more stop except this IS the one more stop before heading to our “house” for the night – Ngakawau beach for the sunset…… she is a beauty – just another gorgeous evening on the wonderful West Coast :-)
Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth. They enjoy getting out and exploring the many wonderful things to see and do on the West Coast. Follow their blog or check out their activities page from their website for other ideas for things to see and do should you be looking at visiting the West Coast of the Southern Alps.