Charming Creek Walkway – A Ride full of Charm


We’re back up to Ngakawau to ride the Charming Creek walkway. Making the most of the guests staying who are keen mountain bikers from Vermont we wanted to take them on one of our favourite trails.  A great trail filled with plenty of charm.

charming creek walkway and tunel

We meet up at the car park with Lauren and Geoff and also Nina and her gorgeous dog Raewyn – friends from Westport.  The dogs are certainly ready for a good run.

Following an old tram line from the sawmill and coal mining days from a bygone era we head off winding our way around the Lower Ngakawau Gorge above the creek.  After much rain of late the creek is fair gushing and there are waterfalls aplenty adding to the interest of the ride.

charming creek waterfalls

While this is a relatively flat trail it can be a bit of a bumpy ride with many of the rails and sleepers still in the ground from the old tram line.  This is great as you are constantly challenged, ensuring you’re picking the best line to limit the amount of bounce – trust me,  there is only so much one’s behind can take!

charming creek walkway and hanging waterfall

There are a couple of little wooden bridges as we wind our way around the gorge complete with drips from overhangs and the odd puddle between the railway sleepers.  Generally though this trail is in great condition – a good wet weather riding option.

Besides the waterfalls the other benefit of the rain of late is the green vegetation.  It is stunning – to be surround by a mass of green, relatively blue skies up above and raging waters below – this trail just oozes charm.

charming creek gorge and swingbridge

We reach the suspension bridge that leads across the creek.  It is advisable to dismount from your bike and walk across the bridge but we are all pretty well use to riding narrow trails and love the challenge of the bridge ride.  Easy does it – no heroics just get safely across to the other side.  Once safely across we are well rewarded with fabulous views of the Mangatini Falls.

charming creek gorge and mangatini falls

We love the local DOC trails (department of conservation) and think these guys do a great job not just maintaining the trails but providing some fantastic information regarding the history of where you are and what you’re seeing.  Charming Creek walkway is no exception and there are some great information panels along the way, filling us in on any points of interest.

Mangatini falls charming creek walk

This trail is fill of wonderful features all adding to the interest and the challenge of the ride.  Not to be left out are a couple of tunnels you need to ride through.  Now they seem easy enough – you can almost see from one end to the other but these things manage to play havoc with our senses.  We start out riding, determined to reach the other end without stopping or putting our feet down but try as I might and it turns out try as we all might we just can’t do it.  The tunnel feels like it closes in around you and you’re going to be spat off your bike into an abyss.  Of course that isn’t going to happen – there is nowhere to go except hug the side rail.  Yes there is even a rail to help guide you – we are pathetic.  No, no, it is our senses – an optical illusion but one day, one day……..

charming creek walkway and railway

The trail now leads to the river flats of Charming Creek and we follow the old railway line for a considerable time through old cutover and farm paddocks before arriving at the historic site of Mumm’s mill.

Mumm's mill site charming creek walkway

There are some wonderful relics here left behind from the golden years of sawmill and coal mining days.  Many of these relics are under cover to help preserve then for future generations to enjoy including an old log hauler.

charming creek walkway and historic relics

We carry on to the end of the trail bouncing and bumping our way along before a short sharp climb up a rocky shelf.  You use to go through a tunnel but it unfortunately has collapsed in places so shut off now for safety.

Eventually we arrive at the trail end – or the start whichever way you look at it. This is the original Charming Creek mine entrance with collapsed coal bins, heaps of relics left lying and decaying and the shell of the old bathhouse.

charming creek walkway historic bathhouse

charming creek walkway and historic bathhouse

There are some strange people milling around the bathhouse and they look to make a quick getaway when seen.

Mumm's mill site and relics charming creek walkway

After our fun clowning around we then head back to the Mill site to have our lunch break.  The boys watch on eagerly in hope of receiving perhaps a little treat – only fair they get some sustenance for the run back out too they think.

charming creek railway and river flat

Time to go and it is a fast pedal out.  We certainly rode this in the right direction as it was a gentle incline coming in and now we are rewarded with more of a free ride out – apart from the bouncing over the railway sleepers so still duck and dive picking our lines along the way.

charming creek walkway gorge

charming creek swingbridge over gorge

Soon we can hear the roar of the water echoing off the canyon walls as we enter the Upper Ngakawau Gorge and head back into the tunnel ready to cross the swing-bridge.  Still no luck on controlling our senses and making it through the tunnel without put a foot down.  The swing-bridge however is tackled with ease – careful ease of course and then the final blat along the lower Ngakawau Gorge leading back to the start of ride and the car park.

charming creek walkway and gorge

There are plenty of smiles all round – happy dogs and happy humans.  Great to be able to showcase some of our lovely West Coast scenery to our visiting fellow mountain bikers and also share some of the history of the region at the same time.  A Charming ride with charming scenery shared with charming company.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and about and exploring the many wonders of the West Coast.  Named by Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2014 as one of the top 10 regions to visit in the world.  We know why.

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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 cycling, Dalmatian, dogs, German Shorthaired Pointer, Mountain biking New Zealand, Nature, NZ history, outdoors, photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Charming Creek Walkway – A Ride full of Charm

  1. bulldog says:

    Reblogged this on The Photographic Journey of bulldog. and commented:
    This is a New Zealand couple that have a guest house… Jan who loves stopping at the bakery writes the words and Stephen does the camera work…. this blog is well worth the visit…. beautifully written and captured in photos…. this site should and could become a magnificent coffee table book….. have a look

  2. bulldog says:

    I had no option but to share this on my blog…. to good not to share….

  3. Mrs. P says:

    Love the humor in the bathhouse getaway! Great shots…beautiful, yet rugged.

  4. joannesisco says:

    Visiting from Bulldog’s blog and what a wonderful visit it’s been! NZ has long been on my must-go list and this post is another reason why … endless adventure in a breathtakingly beautiful country! 🙂

  5. Beautiful photos and story. What a great ride, especially over the swing bridge. 🙂

  6. PC PHOTO says:

    Thanks for sharing it is always fun to discover new blogs!

  7. WOW! You people mus be very fit! Lovely pictures, so interesting and a charming scenery. .

    • coastingnz says:

      The wonderful thing about this particular track is you don’t have to be super fit. My fitness is shocking at the moment so I did have sore legs the next day LOL. The scenery and history help take the pain away from turning the pedals. 🙂

  8. Ouch! My tail feels each and everyone of those railroad ties. As for dark tunnels, No thanks. I was riding over the Blue Ridge Highway once when my light went out in a tunnel. It was pitch black. Scary. –Curt

    • coastingnz says:

      Truth be told mine did Curt! I’ve done a few tunnels – even ones where you’re actually biking through a creek in the tunnel but this one – gets me every time! Glad to see you lived to tell the tale of your tunnel adventure LOL

  9. Geoff Slater says:

    As half of the Vermonters on this ride, I can confirm that this ride was as fun as it sounds, and the railroad ties were even part of the fun. Jan and Stephen were great hosts and part of the reason that NZ is our favorite country and this was yet another great trip there (although next time can you arrange for better spring weather?)!

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