MG 7562

South Island: Denniston, Cape Foulwind & Punakaiki

Our first trip of the day saw us heading north of Westport to the old mining town of Denniston. On public holidays, today being Labour Day, the Denniston Friends of the Hill historical society (the FotH website appears to have expired) opens their doors at the old School building and their records can be viewed. Elaine has been doing a lot of family tree research and one of her ancestors spent some time at the Denniston mines back in the late 1800’s.

From the Geni entry:

Alfred Carr Vipond
Alfred Carr Vipond

Alfred Carr Vipond
It had been said that Alfred left school at 12 and went to work in the mines because the family couldn’t afford his further education. The story was that he was a bright lad and many years later when he was farming at Hoteo, the other farmers would approach him to look after their “books”.
There is no record of Alfred working in the Garrigill Lead Mines, but the 1871 census records him as a General Servant (Farm) for the Curate of Middleton-in-Teesdale.
He may have been a Lead Ore Washer after leaving school, that was often the first job for a young lad entering the lead mining industry.
Alfred would have emigrated to New Zealand between April 1871 and April 1876.
Information from Betty Powell, Waipu 9 January 1986: Alfred Carr Vipond arrived Lyttleton on “South” 1 September 1874. I am unable to confirm this from any Passenger Lists as yet…but it would make sense.
Alfred is recorded as a Miner, Malvern, on William’s Birth Registration and Miner, Denniston, on John Vipond’s Birth Registration.

At the school there were a number of family histories provided by people who had done research on their own links to Denniston. Old clothing, tools, furniture, musical instruments and other pieces from the early mining days to more recent times were also on display. Outside there were a few sheds clad in corrugated iron that was rusting into a spectrum of red hues. Mining equipment including old boilers, coal carts reduced to rusting chassis and wheels, coils of wire and barrels was found and photographed on this reasonably rare sunny morning. Often the cloud cover is low enough that Denniston exists in a permanent fog.

MG 7562Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Rusting carts, rusting iron.

MG 7565Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Shades of decay.

MG 7574Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Twisted wire.

A feature of the mine is the steep incline railway that was built to take coal down the hill to the railway for transport to Westport and beyond. We headed to the site of the incline brakehead which DOC is currently sprucing up for the summer.

MG 7592Photo by Brendon & Keryn

One of the old incline pulley wheels.

The brakehead area has been restored with a couple of large coal wagons in place, one suspended just over the lip of the incline. The incline can clearly be seen heading in a straight line done the steep hill though the restored tracks fade a few meters down from the summit. A lovely new DOC viewing platform has been created to take in the view but it feels like it doesn’t get high enough to see the full extent of the incline, it’s still a very nice construction with its curved wooden rails.

MG 7603Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A restored coal wagon.

MG 7606Photo by Brendon & Keryn

At the brakehead.

MG 7615Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Daisy in the tracks.

MG 7637Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Checking the view.

Walking back to the car we bumped in to the two guys we’d met on the Charming Creek track the previous day before having lunch at new picnic tables by the car park.

Later in the afternoon we took advantage of the continuing nice weather and travelled to the fur seal colony at Tauranga Bay on Cape Foulwind. As usual with a seal colony it took a while to actually see how many seals were there, staring at rocks slowly revealed seals all over resting in sunny spots.

MG 7645Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A New Zealand fur seal.

Keryn and I decided to walk the Cape Foulwind walkway, meeting Elaine and Phil at the car park at the other end. The walk followed the coastline around the cape, passing farmland and dramatic coastal views. There were plenty of seagulls and weka to be seen, and a flock of starlings feeding across a field. The incoming waves were interacting with long kelp clinging to rocks in the bays, looking like hair moving in the surf.

MG 7705Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A long way to anywhere.

MG 7749Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Kelp in the surf.

MG 7760Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The walkway.

MG 7779Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A weka hunts for food.

MG 7794Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Crossing a stile.

From a viewpoint just past the lighthouse we could see the car waiting for us in the car park below. Two weka could also be seen moving around the car, apparently they were very interested in the car itself, popping their heads up through open doors to check out the interior for anything grabable. We had some lemon and ginger slice at the car while the weka continued to prowl around, often they would disappear only to come running as new vehicles arrived.

Which way Weka?Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Weka obey road marking too.

We had one last trip in us and drove further south to hopefully catch a nice sunset at the pancake rocks of Punakaiki. As it turned out the horizon level haze and clouds snuffed out any sunset but it was still pleasant to walk the path around the rocks and watch the strong waves coming in. Unfortunately the tide was too low for there to be any real blowhole action.

MG 7811Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The view south from the rocks at Punakaiki.

MG 7829Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Pancake rocks.

MG 7850Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Swirling sea.

In was getting quite dark once we were done so we found somewhere local to have dinner, eating at the Punakaiki Tavern. The food was OK, the place quite busy and at least we got fed quite promptly. Tomorrow we’d be leaving Westport and heading south again, this time destination Hokitika.

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