It turned out to be a bit of a magical mystery tour today. Our first stop along the way was the little mining town of Granity. A lot of the town has gone since the down turn in coal mining in the district but what was there was interesting. The local Northern Buller Museum had to be accessed by crossing the railway line that runs to Ngawakau which is where the coal from the Stockton Coal Mine is loaded for shipment to Lyttleton.
The museum is based around the old coke oven’s that operated in the town. A couple have been demolished but there are moves afoot to restore what is left as funds become available.
Mining and domestic paraphernalia adorn the walls of the museum along with a whole host of photographs of the mining history of the last decade. Like a lot of museums a lot more time could have been spent there going over 100 years of history.
Further along the road we came across the coal transhipment plant at Ngawakau. This is the northern end of the railway system along this coast where coal from the nearby Stockton mine is loaded onto railway wagons for shipment to Lyttleton on the opposite coast.
Each train carries 1500 ton. Not long after we arrived we were told that the Cableway from the mine would start operating soon as a train was due and they had to fill the loading hoppers before wagon loading could begin. The hopper holds 1000 tons and the cableway delivers 6 tons per minute. Once the train starts loading it’s all go to keep the hopper topped up to complete the load.
We arrived at the Seddonville Hotel just before lunch where we will stay over night. Talking to the publican we learned of a walkway along the old railway track bed not far from the hotel so after lunch we set off in search. It wasn’t too hard to find and we followed it across 2 wooden trestle bridges and through 1 tunnel which was about 200 metre’s long.
While on the walk we met 2 locals who gave us more information about things to see in the area. With this in mind it was back to camp to collect Robin and Geoff's 4x4’s for what you might call an off road experience. The tar seal ran out and the road became a typical back country metal (dirt) road. We followed this for a while until we reached a river ford. Here a sign informed us that we were at the limit of the council maintained roadway and we proceeded at our own risk. This track, you couldn’t call it a road, led us up hill and down dale and was very bumpy in places. In several places we could see where exploratory drilling had been done. We were unsure whether this is something to do with a proposed Hydro power dam being built here or Solid Energy prospecting for more coal. We stopped when the track disappeared into the rain forest but there were a couple of other vehicles there, so somebody must have been working in there.
Returning to the hotel we decided on a cooks night off and have a drink and meal at the bar.Talking to more locals we have found more interesting places to investigate so we will return here on our way back from Karamea.