Millerton – a Mountain of History


Millerton views to Tasman Sea

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!).

views out from millerton escarpment

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.

views atop millerton escarpment

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.

stairway to heaven millerton incline

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.

relics historic bathhouse millerton

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.

old railway coal tunnel millerton

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!

escarpment walk millerton

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.

Ziggy and Nico enjoying the outing Millerton

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.

enjoying the views millerton escarpment walk

tasman sea views from millerton

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.

walking escarpment millerton

walking escarpment walk millerton

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.

bush and sea views millerton escarpment walk

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.

Millerton tunnel millerton incline

Millerton Incline and historic coal bins

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

beach at Ngakawau Bullery Bay

sunset granity beach

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.

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About coastingnz

Jan and Stephen live on the Punakaiki coastline, north of Greymouth on the West Coast, NZ and run Breakers Boutique Accommodation. They both enjoy the outdoors and are passionate about things to see and do on the West Coast and would like to share their experiences with you.
This entry was posted in beaches, Dalmatian, dogs, German Shorthaired Pointer, Nature, NZ flora and fauna, NZ history, outdoors, photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Millerton – a Mountain of History

  1. bulldog says:

    Pure brilliance… what a place to see, and I say that with tears in my eyes after you beat us in the finals today of the sevens … and to think I sat and watched it…

    • coastingnz says:

      oh Rob you do crack me up – thanks for my giggle first thing. Firstly for your kind words but secondly re the sevens – I too stayed up and watched – not quite as bad timing wise but was good to see the win finally! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • coastingnz says:

      you’d beat us the last three times – I think I’m allowed a little rubbing…… as DJ said in interview at end – “Good to get the Monkey off their back” – we’ll see. Loved at the end though when all shaking hands and hugging – play so often they’re all good mates win or lose, that is what sport should be all about – play hard on the field and friends at the end.

  2. The tunnel and the coal bins look like they are right out of an Indiana Jones flick. And why is it that you guys remind me of mountain goats? ๐Ÿ™‚ โ€“Curt

  3. Michael Nees says:

    Let’s move to the Westcoast and explore all those hidden places!

  4. Richard Howe. says:

    Used to rent a bach at Granity, opposite the Millerton turn off. I loved exploring the old town area. The old Millerton hotel was still standing then, and still had furniture and beds inside.
    Love the Westport area, and all the coal history.

  5. Wayne Hall says:

    Sad that a lot of the millerton mine remnants are being covered by the bush and DOC are not maintaining the area. I was there in march 2015 and very disappointed to see what is was like. Some of the incline if cleared would be a good walking track. Hardly any signage to guide visitors . a lot could be done to improve it as a tourist site

    • coastingnz says:

      It would be but in fairness DOC only have so much money and can’t be everywhere. This is where local communities need to come on board and in many instances do just that – like Denniston for example. We have so much history and we will lose much of it for sure – we’re only a small country at the end of the day with a small rating base to cover infrastructure and the like. Generally I think DOC do a great job where they can. It is when people stop visiting places like Millerton that they will disappear – we need us to keep walking and exploring and help keep these places open and alive for others to enjoy.

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