The NorthWest Buller seaside villages of Granity, Ngakawau and Hector are a fast, short (20 minute) drive up the coast on State Highway 67 which runs from Westport through to Karamea and the entrance to the mighty Heaphy tramping track. It is a drive you will remember, with the Tasman Sea thundering in on your left and the unforgettable crags of the forested high plateau rising to 3,000 feet on your right - the site of the high altitude present day and heritage mining towns of Denniston and Millerton. Offering a charming mix of early mining cottages, artists' studios and holiday homes each of these eclectic villages are a paradise for beachcombers who love colourful stones and gnarled driftwood.
Granity offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy superb local craft, sculpture, art galleries and studios. Also here are a cafe, hotel and accommodation. As you drive north towards Ngakawau - the next village 4 minutes on - you'll notice the road to Millerton, a quirky high-altitude present day mining village with a colourful past, offering wonderful short walks.
A short drive north across the bridge is the third NorthWest Buller seaside village - Hector. Enjoy the Hector Dolphin sculpture picnic area and stone barbeque at the mouth of the Ngakawau River - and watch out for these small and endangered dolphins which often play just beyond the breakers. Also here are a summer swimming pool, a country music museum and an outdoor cafe on the beach (only operates in summer).
Two settlements with colourful mining histories, classic West Coast pubs and a relaxed pace of life are nestled on the banks of the Mokihinui. With the Glasgow Range forming a spectacular backdrop, the seaside village of Mokihinui, and Seddonville -- just 5km upriver -- are quiet getaways boasting miles of untrammelled beaches and tracks.
Between Mokihinui and Seddonville (a right turn off State Highway 67 before crossing the Mokihinui River bridge) is the short but fascinating Chasm Creek Walkway. Formerly the railway line into Seddonville, the walkway now offers easy access to spectacular river and mountain views, beautiful mosses, and a rail tunnel. Portions of the A&E Network’s “The Lost World” were filmed on the walkway, but dinosaurs are not commonly sighted there.
Mokihinui is a popular holiday destination for New Zealanders who own modest “baches,” or holiday homes, in the settlement. Superb river mouth and surf fishing attracts many, while the springtime whitebait season sees the population swell by several hundred, as regulars come from near and far to fish for the tiny delicacy. The beach at Mokihinui is vast and usually empty; chances are visitors will have it entirely to themselves.
Once the centre of a thriving mining community, Seddonville is now home to a country pub with motel units, campground and, slightly upriver, a wilderness lodge. It is gateway to the upper end of the Charming Creek Walkway and the Mokihinui backcountry, offering tramping, fishing, hunting, whitewater, mountain biking, four wheel driving and gold panning galore.
Charming Creek Walkway
Ngakawau is the gateway to the Charming Creek Walkway one of the South Island's top five short walks (refer Natural Wonders for more detail). Between Mokihinui and Seddonville (a right turn off State Highway 67 before crossing the Mokihinui River bridge) is the short but fascinating Chasm Creek Walkway. Formerly the railway line into Seddonville, the walkway now offers easy access to spectacular river and mountain views, beautiful mosses, and a rail tunnel.
Other Historical Sites and Walks
Museum and Coke Ovens – Granity
Millerton Village and walks
Stockton Mine tours
Hector Pottery - Ngakawau