Denniston Plateau

Buller Region

Six hundred metres above sea level, Denniston was once NZ's largest coal town, with 1500 residents in 1911. By 1981 there were eight. Its claim to fame was the fantastically steep Denniston Incline, which hurtled laden wagons down a 45-degree hillside. Display panels bring the plateau’s history to life and trails provide sweeping views and a direct route into the past. The turn-off to Denniston is 16km east of Westport at Waimangaroa; Denniston is a further eight winding kilometres inland.

Look out for DOC's Walks in the Westport Area brochure ($2, or free online) detailing four tracks around the Denniston plateau. The Brakehead Walk (1.1km, 40 minutes) loops past rusting machinery to a viewpoint overlooking the incline, while the Bridal Path (4.2km; allow three hours to get up and 2½ to get back down) sweats its way up to the plateau from Waimangaroa.

The eager can read Jenny Pattrick's evocative novels set in these parts, starting with The Denniston Rose (2012).