Stairway to Heaven – Progress Water Race Track

climbing stairs inangahua swingbridge

Climbing, climbing, climbing, up, up and up. They say what goes up must come down but what about going back up again and then back down, up, up, up and then down, down, down only to do it all again and again, oh my gosh and again!

Fantastic bush walk today out in the winter sun with hubby and the dogs. Happy, happy, happy dogs – doesn’t get much better than a bush walk – all those great smells, good leg stretch and freedom – I think they call it doggy heaven.

green path progress water race

I say out in the winter sun but when you’re doing a bush walk you’re not really in the sun but the light filtering through the trees adds to the atmosphere and showcases the lovely colours of the bush – something so simple that we often take for granted – it’s green – but is it? How green, what shade of green – perhaps you should take another look, I almost guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

One disadvantage to a winter walk in the bush though – a little tad chilly. Nevermind plenty of steps to climb so I’m sure we’ll soon warm up.

Did I say plenty of steps…….

Progress Water Race track

Today’s trail starts at the Inangahua Swingbridge and Picnic Area 11kms East of the village of Reefton. We’re checking out the Progress Water Race track – sign states 2 hours return but we hope to go a bit beyond there towards the Golden Lead Battery. We know we won’t make it that far as that is a 5 hour return hike – and a hike not a walk, getting into proper tramping territory and we don’t have enough light with the winter hours. Actually truth be told we weren’t organised as well as we should have been to get out hiking earlier (come on we had guests this morning to attend to!). We’ll see what the walk brings though.

First up before our hike is a compulsory stop at the Broadway Tearooms and Bakery in Reefton. Have to fuel up for the day’s adventure – and it is lunchtime after all. These guys do the best filled rolls – their bread is more like eating candy floss – yum, yum. Our aim is to finish at the Bakery also for a hot drink and sweet treat – our reward after today’s adventure.

Inangahua Swingbridge

Ok so back to our walk. We head across the swingbridge to start the trail. Growing up in NZ most of us are well used to swingbridges but boy oh boy this thing really moves. There are only two of us on it and it says load capacity of five pax – man she would be a full on sway going then. Classic.

dogs waiting Progress water race track

Nico Inangahua walk

Now let the climbing begin. The dogs love it – they are off and make it look super easy. Steps and stairwells, boardwalks and bridges – lot of effort been put in by DOC for this trail – very impressive. The bush goes steeply up the bank so naturally if you want to access it then the track has to go straight up too. It switchbacks a little bit but mainly to start with it is just up, up and up before it joins the old water race.

walking in the beech forest progress water race

tunnel of light progress water race track

Following now a bed of green in amongst the towering Beech forest the trail winds it way around the side of the hill. Fantastic boardwalks and bridges and the water race occasionally disappears into the hillside only to pop back out as we round the corner. A couple of times you can see right through and could possible walk through if you wanted. We’ll leave it for today though.

heading down steps progress water race

Now we’re going down – hang on just a minute – what was with all those steps I climbed to get up here. Seems like we’re going all the way to the bottom again. Easy does it as they are a little slippery. Down, down, down. Laughing now cos you guessed it we’re soon going back up, up, up.

climbing steps progress water race track

bird watching progress water race track

Talk about a stairway to heaven – don’t look ahead they seem to go on forever. Definitely an advantage to having a husband into photography – lots of excuses for stopping. Nothing at all to do with catching ones breath! While waiting a little bush robin comes to check us out. Soon his friend arrives. The dogs are intrigued – we must look silly, we’re looking at them and they seem just as intrigued with us – certainly not shy as they come right up close. Super cute but unfortunately couldn’t capture them with the camera for you all to see so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.

Beech forest progress water race

Ok – one more lot of down – far out really! This lot brings us back down to road level – the confluence of the Inangahua River and Deep Creek. This is officially the end of the Progress water race track and now becomes the Inangahua/Big River track and will eventually turn into a tramping track rather than walking track so won’t be in as good condition as what we’ve been doing. As mentioned early we don’t have enough daylight to go too much further anyway. It’s that funny old thing though isn’t, it never seems to take as long to go back the way you came as what it did to come in – well feels like it anyway. We stop here at the junction for a snack and meander along the bottom of the continuation of the track. It’s getting pretty boggy so we decide enough is enough and turn around. Back to the steps….. oh no…….

progress water race track bridges

It isn’t that bad really – I’m making it sound worse than it is. I’m sure it would be hard for some people but for us young, fit, fine-tuned, endurance athletes….. yeah right! Snap out of the dream and get up those steps!!!! Our little friend the bush robin is back with his buddy – can’t believe how friendly and unafraid these little fellas are – so cute.

bridges progress water race track

Doesn’t take long and the trail looks real familiar with the little water race tunnels and curved bridges. Nearly back and my calf muscles can have a rest. Few more steps first though – down this time. Easy does it, don’t want to trip up just before the end – how much of a disaster would that be!

steps down Inangahua swingbridge trail

Yay! Mission complete – now back to that double dipping mentioned earlier – the Broadway Tearooms for hot chocolate and cake. Makes it all worth while……

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth. They love to get out and explore the many wonders of the West Coast with their two dogs Nico and Ziggy – the great explorers. Check out their other blog posts for suggestions on things to see and do on the West Coast.

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 Dalmatian, dogs, German Shorthaired Pointer, Nature, NZ flora and fauna, NZ history, outdoors, photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Stairway to Heaven – Progress Water Race Track

  1. bulldog says:

    Talk about making some one tired… I’m bushed now and off to bed for a rest… That does not look as easy as you make it out to be or maybe it is just my age, not being young and super fit like you two are… (don’t worry I noticed the “Yeah right”) but looking at some of the trails you walk and some of the tracks you ride I think you and Stephen are almost super fit… I love Stephen’s photography and if I was him you’d only see photos of the beginning of the walk, ’cause that’s as far as I’d get… no wonder the All Blacks are so fit, they probably chase them up and down tracks like this one the whole time…


  2. Okay, you two have it right– both starting and ending at a bakery. And don’t you just hate it (not really) when you work your tail off to get to the top of something and the trail takes you down again. 🙂 –Curt


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