Dunganville– get your attention and prick your inquisitive side a bit? I love this area and it is a popular place for locals to go for a leisurely bush walk at the historical Woods Creek gold field. Nowadays it’s a sparsely populated area about 25kms out of Greymouth on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand where I live (Greymouth, not Dunganville.) The Woods Creek walking track meanders through old gold-mining workings and is a fascinating window on this 19th century activity. Not only is the walk educational it is also restful the path passing through areas of logging operations (for building lumber for the establishment of the nearby town) and virgin native bush. There are birds aplenty, with tui, kereru (wood pigeon), various tits often seen. If you feel so inclined have a bit of a fossick in the streams that flow through the area, but remember that this is NOT a public prospecting area and anything you find you are not legally entitled to remove. Bugger! The track is very well formed and sturdy steps and bridges make getting around very easy. The walk is neither long nor difficult and would suit wanderers of all ages amd fitness levels. The workings (which are liberally serviced by information boards) show a variety of processes. It was clearly very hard work winning the gold-bearing gravel for sluicing, and digging out the tunnels to provide further sluice material as well as water channels to power the sluicing operations. The stream that winds through the area gurgles gently in the background and the steep banks are festooned with ferns of many kind. The colours are vibrant greens and the plants range from tiny fungi and ferns to hundreds years old native giants.There are numerous tunnels of various sizes (width and height) and one can only imagine how difficult it must have been both initially excavating them and then working in the tight spaces to win the gold-bearing spoil. Take your time passing through these tunnels (and it’s a good idea to go armed with a torch as some of them are very dark). Don’t be afraid- you may come across cobwebs, but the spiders won’t harm you. You may see some cave wetas but they are more afraid of you than you should be of them. If you are adventurous enough revisit the track at night and you will see beautiful glow-worms.
As mentioned there are numerous information boards along the track and it is worth the time to read the stuff that’s presented.But, sad to say, New Zealand has its share of bloody idiots, people who have no respect for the property around them, and even scant regard for the safety of others.  Look closely at the image above. This is a section of the main information board at the start of the track, and you will notice the bullet holes on the top quarter. Many New Zealanders love their hunting, and the vast majority of them are very safety conscious, but it is a sad fact that there will be the numbskulls around who just HAVE to shoot something. How much of a hero do you think this drongo would have felt having shot a large information board. Whatever greater being there be, please protect me from these idiots.
These last two images show the processes used then and now to extract the valuable yellow metal from our earth. Above is a typical sheer face that is formed when high-pressure hydro-mining is used to wash down the gold bearing gravel for sluicing while below is how it’s done today with heavy duty machinery able to move in minutes what it would have taken our forebears days. Pretty ugly but those licensed to mine are required to return the land to its original state when they have finished working the claim. 
I hope I’m around to see THAT happen!


10 thoughts on “DUNGANVILLE, Greymouth, NZ.

  1. Cindy Greaney says:

    I’m looking for Dunganville Cemetery – have you come across it? The Council says the records for that cemetery were lost in a fire some years ago. Please let me know if you have and if it is easily located so I direct a friend of mine to look next time they visit West Coast.. Thanks – Cindy

      • Hi again! Thanks for your reply. I have located it on a land survey map -seems to be in the bush slightly! Please let me know if you locate it though! And if you physically visit it at any point … I’m looking for the name MCPHEE (or any variant in spelling). Thanks. One day I’ll visit myself!!!

  2. mf35x says:

    Hi again – I have located it on a Land survey map – but it seems to be in the bush! If you do ‘stumble’ upon it … I’m looking for the name McPhee (or any variant of spelling) … I’ll have to organise a trip down I think!

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