39. Riverton and Longwood

After a night in Riverton we went on to the Longwood Range and had an hour’s walk through an old goldmining area called the Long Hilly, or Roundhill, Walk.

The Longwood Range has the the same volcanic rocks as Nelson! The rocks of the ‘median batholith’ have been separated by tens of thousands of years of shift along the Alpine Fault.

Two Italians are credited for first finding gold in the Longwood Range but it was ignored by them and many others as being too poor and difficult to work. The Chinese were the ones to run with it and up to 500 worked long hours to turn a good profit. Once some of the European companies realised how much they were finding they became interested and the existing water races were extended for up to 40 kilometres away. Eventually a European company took over and sluiced the fields on a large scale using hydraulic elevating. There is little sign of the activity now as bush has largely overgrown it again.

Riverton is a beautiful town.
In Riverton you can see the Longwood Range in the distance, centre left, where we are headed next.
There was a video to watch at the start of our visit to the museum in Riverton which was funny as it took a good twenty minutes for them to work out how to make the sound come on – they said it was a new system in place for the first time today! It was worth the wait, the whole experience made it one of the best museums we’ve visited with interesting and relevant information that was set out well.
This shows the beach near where we stayed. It’s okay to drive on here but further along towards Riverton and Howell’s Point (visible in the photo) there’s no access for vehicles and you can walk freely and see the wildlife. We have been there once before and found interesting small skeletons made of some gristle-like substance – I wondered if they were cuttlefish but still don’t know. We didn’t go this time, but Howells Point is a great place to spend some time.
Colac Bay foreshore looking back towards Howells Point.
Looking towards Oraka Point with the Hump Ridge in the far background where there’s great tramping/hiking for both locals and tourists.
There’s rip rap all the way along Colac Bay making a sea wall against erosion – love it or hate it, it’s there!
On to the Longwood Range – in the carpark of our walk lies a gold mining relic – a piece of water pipe.
This is part of Te Araroa, the trail that runs from the north of NZ to the south. It’s the right time of year for walkers, but we don’t meet any today.
Our walk follows a track which leads into a loop, so we finish on the same piece of track we started on.
An old mine shaft covered up to protect people from falling in.
Water races run everywhere as is usual for goldmining areas – a lot of water was needed to wash out the gold.
After making a living from mining gold, Lai Chong started up a tea shop which catered to both Chinese and European miners.
What happened when this race met a hill? It was dug straight through! How small were these people to dig it out by hand and fit themselves through…
In two places the tunnel opened to the air...
before emerging out of the hill once more.
Relics were dotted throughout the walk.
Old dam site used for the mining – water was stored here from a natural stream running through it.
The loop part of the walk finishes with a stretch that leads through a hand-dug cutting that was used as a sawmiller’s tramline way back then.
Back through the sunlit forest.
Gem Beach, past Orepuki, where you can find small sea-polished pieces of hydrogrossular garnet if you search hard enough and have luck. The tide was in and it was blowing a cold gale, so after a quick walk we carried on our way.

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