Charming Creek Walkway

State Highway 67 (Into the Ngakawau Gorge)
Ngakawau, West Coast
This is one of the top five one day walks in the South Island. It combines stunning scenery with a fascinating insight into early timber and coalmining history. The route follows the Charming Creek Coal Company's railway line. (The mine was closed in 1986) . Allow about 5 hours return for the full return trip but you don't have to go the full distance.

The area does have a Maori name, Ngakawau, a direct reference to the abundance of Shags or Cormorants that nest in this area.

Brothers Robert and George Watson, at the turn of the century set about extracting timber from the Charming Creek valley by way of an incline over the Radcliffe Ridge. Slow, and hard on horses tasked for the job, they subsequently blasted a ledge through the spectacular Ngakawau Gorge for a new tramway. Morphing into a coal railway with the opening of the Charming Creek mine, this tramway ferried miners and workmen to the mine each workday in open coal trucks.

The projected 160 kilometer Old Ghost Road Cycle Trail follows a historic gold miner's route that connects the old dray road in the Lyell (Upper Buller Gorge) heading northward to the mighty Mokihinui River, then joining the Charming Creek Walkway and the Denniston Plateau on the wild West Coast. Once complete the full ride will make a complete back-country loop for intermediate to advanced riders.

Robin Mills (r0b1nm1lls@xtra.co.nz) comments:

The Ngakawau River gorge is spectacular but unfortunately so is the pollution of the Ngakawau River. I walked the track for the first time on Jan 16 2007 and was horrified to see the water thick with coal fines and lumps of white foam which had come from the Stockton Mine. Other rivers in the area were clear so rain could not be blamed. The appearance of the river spoilt the walk. Looking at various websites I see that Solid Energy claimed to have cleaned up their act. This does not appear to be the case.

Kitty Brown says:
This walkway is fantastic, I didn't notice any pollution! All I could see was amazing scenery, an enormous waterfall and very interesting natural sulphur outlets. The river is brown like many on the West Coast because of the sheer amount of nutrients and tannins which leach from the
surrounding rain forest!

Also must mention a wonderful place to stop for lunch or coffee at the start or finish of you walk. The Charming Creek Tavern which has a lovely cafe with an even lovelier proprietor who bakes and cooks up delicious homemade kiwiana cuisine on a daily basis!
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  • Eastern Section
    Eastern Section
  • Western Section
    Western Section
  • Charming Creek Walkway
    Charming Creek Walkway
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