Buller Region

Remote Waiuta is one of the West Coast's most famous ghost towns. Spread over a plateau, this once-burgeoning gold town was swiftly abandoned after the mineshaft collapsed in 1951. Waiuta grew quickly after a gold discovery in 1905 but these days the forest-shrouded settlement is reduced to bits of rusting machinery, an overgrown swimming pool, stranded brick chimneys, fenced-off mine shafts and the odd intact building, including the old hospital (now a lodge).

From the signposted turn-off on SH7, 23km south of Reefton, it's another 17km to Waiuta, the last half of which is unsealed, winding and narrow in places but easy enough in a 2WD (keep your headlights on). Ask at Reefton's i-SITE for information and maps or consult the DOC website.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Buller Region attractions

1. Golden Fleece Battery

11.57 MILES

Up the driveway from Blacks Point Museum is the still-functional Golden Fleece Battery, used for crushing gold-flecked quartz. Ask at the museum for entry.

2. Blacks Point Museum

11.6 MILES

Housed in an old church 2km east of Reefton on State Highway 7, this museum is crammed with prospecting paraphernalia.

3. Bearded Mining Company

12.22 MILES

Looking like a ZZ Top tribute band, the straight-talkin', bearded fellas at this recreated high-street mining hut rollick your socks off with tales tall…

4. Reefton Distilling Co.

12.23 MILES

Every gold-rush town needs a still, and Reefton's got a goodie in the form of this operation that makes use of foraged botanicals and spring water sourced…

5. Marble Hill

20.87 MILES

Located within Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve, Marble Hill is home to one of NZ's most beautiful DOC camping grounds – a row of sites tucked into beech forest,…

6. Formerly the Blackball Hilton

21.43 MILES

Blackball's major talking point is this century-old pub, once known as the Dominion. When it was renamed in the 1990s, a certain global hotel chain got…

8. Pancake Rocks

28.03 MILES

Punakaiki's claim to fame is Dolomite Point, where a layering-weathering process called stylobedding has carved the limestone into what looks like piles…