Do you ever see signs on the side of the road for points of interest and wonder what is there and is it worth stopping? We do – so many options on the West Coast, hard to do all of them but we sure do try.
Our latest stop was at the Inangahua Swingbridge Picnic Area and walks near Reefton. From the road it doesn’t really look like much but we had an opportunity to stop for a change so took it and we were very pleasantly surprised, uncovering yet another hidden gem of the West Coast.
It starts out with a very short 4WD track to end at the car park and picnic area right by the edge of the river with the swingbridge leading across the river and into the bush. While Stephen and I sat on the grass and had our little picnic lunch thanks to Broadway Teamrooms and Bakery in Reefton, the boys made the most of the river location to cool off after a bit of a drive in the car. Another family arrived and the children enjoyed frolicking in the river – Stephen put his feet in and commented it was quite warm – I’ll trust him on that……
With full bellies we thought we’d take a little walk across the swingbridge to see what was on the other side. Wow – awesome. A beautiful walk in the native Beech forest. It started with steps heading straight up – up – up and more up giving some instant elevation and fabulous views out to the main road and down the valley floor.
The signpost at the start indicated we were on the Progress Water Race track and it was a 2 hour return walk following the old water race from the gold mining days to meet with the Deep Creek and Inangahua River confluence. Alternatively you could carry on for a 6 hour return walk to an old restored Golden Lead Battery and historic site – or even further to Big River. Unfortunately for us we didn’t have that much time and with our bikes on the car didn’t want to be away for too long even though we were enjoying the gorgeous surroundings.
The track was a series of boardwalks, steps, bridges and ridgelines – that we followed for a good 10 minutes or so. It was so peaceful and so beautiful – I’m sure walking in the bush is good for the soul, certainly makes me feel good – all those lingering spirits from the gold mining days. The dogs enjoyed the “obstacles” up, down and all around. Off one little bridge there was a tunnel heading into the ground and you actually see right through to the other side. There was a tree sitting right of the edge above with one of the tree roots stretching far into the tunnel – amazing sight.
Time to turn round and head back down – just as beautiful in either direction. Back to the swingbridge – and she is a classic with a good lean on about half way across – such amazing structures – sturdy as but I still hold on to the rails – just can’t help myself 🙂
Time to head for home but we’ll be back to complete the walk. Another hidden gem discovered and I’m sure more treasures to be found in the bush.
Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth. They enjoy getting out and exploring the many wonders that help make up the West Coast. Follow their blog for their adventures and discoveries or check out their activities page on their website. The West Coast of the Southern Alps – rated one of the top ten regions to visit in the world by Lonely Planet.