We thought the camp site at Nelson Creek would be a good spot for a couple of days exploring the surrounding area, which it was but we had no idea what an interesting place it is with a great camp site and walks.
Located in Greymouth area in the West Coast region, Nelson Creek is an excellent spot to go walking, camping and exploring. With historic water races, tunnels, recreational gold fossicking with a number of short walks, there is plenty to do.
There are several short walks to choose from ranging form 20 min – 1 hr 30 min, mostly easy, no dogs.
From its beginnings in 1865, at the height of the rush over 1200 miners were scattered throughout Try Again Terrace downstream from Nelson Creek, but numbers fell almost immediately, once the productive ground was worked out.
The campsite is quite large with good toilets and potable water. After being in the drought stricken Marlborough area the day before we were surprised to see fire boxes dotted around the camp site, with plies of sawmill off cuts of wood to burn – no fire risk here.
To find the starting point for the walks, walk through an old hand picked tunnel and cross the Nelson Creek suspension bridge.
Nelson Creek suspension bridge
This historic suspension bridge crossing Nelson Creek was originally built in 1872 and has been rebuilt a couple of times, most recently by the New Zealand Forest Service in 1982 using the original plans.
Colls Dam Walk
The walk takes in some good examples of tailraces and tailings as well as providing a pleasant lookout point above the historic Colls Dam.
A Weka below, she had two tiny fluffy chicks but we couldn’t close enough to get a photo.
These walks cross a number of impressive tail races, the deepest seemed to be about 5-6 m with very straight sides and about 500 – 600mm wide, lots of digging!!
It’s hard to show the depth of the tail races, just make sure you stick to the paths as some of them were over 4m deep!
Old gold workings are also visible throughout the red and silver beech which are the dominant tree species.
Ground sluicing was the main method of working the gold. Sluicing needed a good supply of water which was directed over the working face, washing the gravels out. Large rocks were lifted aside and stacked as tailings, while the smaller material was washed down tailraces containing riffle boxes to ‘save’ the gold.
Tailraces were also essential to remove excess water from the working area.
Wear comfortable footwear and take wet weather clothes as the West Coast is known for sudden changes in weather. Take care off formed tracks as shafts and tunnels are scattered throughout the area.
From Greymouth follow SH7 about 25 km north to Ngahere. Turn right at the Ngahere-Kopara Road and carry on to the Nelson Creek Settlement. The turn off to access the picnic, camping area and walks is opposite Nelson Creek Hotel.