We are so lucky here on the West Coast to have so many walks and bike rides that were forged by our forefathers in search of gold that we now get to enjoy.
Woods Creek walk would have to be one of our most under-rated little hiking trails. A short walk that really packs a punch with both stunning native bush scenery and fascinating history.
It starts on the outskirts of Greymouth – inland about 20kms, quite literally in the middle of nowhere. It is a historic trail following in the footsteps of the gold miners from the late 1800s.
The trail starts in among old gold tailings and heads off into the bush. At the entrance to the bush there is an information board to give us some background to the history of the area and the gold mining. Basically we’re going to be following the tailings, tailrace and dams built by the miners through the native forest with opportunities to see some of the tunnels and even enter them.
The first section of the forest is mature regenerating native forest – once logged by the miners to get access and used for their mining purposes. This is a very visual walk – that might seem a strange description but you really get a feel for how things were done with getting right up and close to the tailrace, the dams and the tunnels. Some of the tunnels and sections of the trailrace are incredibly deep and it gives you a real appreciation of the skill and work involved.
The bush is a verdant oasis. Shades of green in all directions.
The trail takes us through mature regenerated forest and then into virgin forest. You pretty much you go down a set of steps leaving the mature regenerated forest to enter the virgin forest – quite surreal really.
As the trail meanders through the bush you hear the constant babble of the creek – if you can’t actually see it you know it is close by. This is a walk that you really need to take your time on – open your eyes and look around you. There are huge cliff-faces just off the trail covered in moss and lichens and entrances/exits from some of the tailrace.
There is one tunnel you can go for a little walk in so you need a flashlight to guide the way. Fascinating to think these were all hand dug. (sorry no photo too dark……)
Department of conservation have done a great job – as they do with pretty much all our walking tracks in NZ, with signage boards depicting the processes or explaining the forest floor. All the little bridges, walkways and steps to safely direct you around the track are fantastic – adds to the atmosphere of the walk.
There is a swing-bridge to cross the creek and gorge – she is a beauty as it not only swings but even the steps are sort of just hanging – adds to the drama of crossing the bridge. Of course it is quite safe but your mind does play little tricks and the brain does struggle a little to comprehend what is happening.
Once safely on the other side the drama continues as you immediately enter a section of the tailrace. It is amazing to be deep in this thing and get a real feel for the work these miners did – not just the gold mining but actually building these things in the first place. They were geniuses!
Up the stairs to the tops and we’re back into regenerating forest again as the trail meanders round to the car park at the start of the track. This is like a little fern grotto – they are huge and they are everywhere. Talk about a walk of contrasts. Woods Creek track – a short little track that really packs a punch with her history and scenic beauty. Only a 1km loop in all but it took us a good two hours with all our exploring. This would have to be one of our favourites – make sure you add it to your list of things to see and do when visiting the Grey District – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
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 tracks and trails around the West Coast.