Waiuta Road is off State Highway 7 about 20 kilometres southwest of Reefton in NZ’s West Coast. Follow it for 17 kilometres to the ghost town, which was abandoned as a working gold mining town in early the 1950s. The mine was closed when one of the two main mine shafts collapsed and it was deemed uneconomic to reopen it.

The 600 people who lived there simply drifted away. Now it’s mostly a conservation park, with relics, ruins, some old buildings, and places to camp. With $1 billion of gold still there, it is intended to reopen the mine, but this won’t affect the park.

You can drive or walk around the historic settlement loop road, and up to the Prohibition Shaft. We did this in January and a real surprise was the beautiful array of rātā, mānuka and other wild flowers below the mine tailings.

You can also hike to the historic Big River gold workings, then onto the Inangahua Swingbridge. A shorter option is the Snowy Battery Walking Track loop at the south end of Waiuta.

Another exploration option, if you have a 4WD, is to drive from Reefton along Soldiers Big River Rd as far as Big River, then walk around from there.

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