This beautiful and scenic walks follows an old railway line through stunning west coast bush to an the old abandoned Charming Creek coal mine.
This walk was by far one of the most memorable walks we had done on our West Coast trip and is well worth the large hike to get their.
Like a lot of the DOC Kiwi Guardian walks the information is a bit miss leading on the length or time of the walk. Thankfully we had done a bit further digging before attempting this one and knew we were in for about a 3hr round trip walk so we went well prepared. Before heading out on this walk I suggest you have a good look and read of the link under Helpful Links below in the adventure notes this will give you more information on the walk regarding times and parts of the track been closed.
There are two ends to the track, the Ngakawau end and the Watson Mill end You can find details how to get to each end on the DOC link mentioned above.
There was a rather large slip on the track when we went, meaning that you could not walk from one end of the track to the other, We had to break it down in to two parts.
From the Ngakawau end you could only walk about 10min in to the track to the Historic swelter, there the track was blocked by the slip.
We still chucked on our packs and went to check it out, and it was really neat. There were lots of old relics to have a look at and explore, this part of the track would be great to do with young kids.
We then drove around to the other end of the track, Watson Mill, to walk in from their.
Unfortunately if you want to get the Kiwi Guardian post you will have to do the 12km, 3hr round trip from the North end by Watsons Mill as their is currently no access over the slip from the Ngakawau end, but I can tell you its well worth it !!!
The first part of the track you walk though is what is left of the old coal mill. There are the ruins of old buildings and piles of old machinery everywhere, its pretty neat to look at.
Then you turn on to the track and follow the water way. The brown of the water running over the terraced clay like rocks surrounded by the bare and spindly trees reminded me of outback of Australia.
As we walked down further you had to be careful under foot as the smooth flat rock broke away easily. Soon we were winding our way around past more mining relic's, under rock canopy's and over beautiful board walks surrounded by stunning native bush. Looking around it was hard to imagine this had once all been burnt clear for the mine.
You then carry on along the old rail way, it is pretty neat walking across the old tracks covered in coal, you better believe there was lots of train sound's been made!!
Chuga chuga chew chew!!!!!
Then we found the old coal train !! that was pretty cool Marcus thought it looked like a transformer.
You carry on walking through beautiful bush and over board walks and even a small swing bridge, until you get to another settlement area. There is a good seating area here, its also covered to get out of the weather if you needed it. There was information panels on the area and lots of old carts and bits of machinery every where.
The next part of the track is just stunning !!!
I really felt like we had entered a whole other world!!
You walk along boardwalks under over hanging rock canopy's, winding your way along trickling steams running next to the track.
Walking back on the rail way track you make you way along whole walls of moss and ferns dripping with dew, all the while surrounded by stunning native bush it is truly remarkable.
Then you make your way through a small tunnel and when you come out the other side you are faced with an incredible waterfall that is just breath taking!
No photo I took did it justice it was beautiful, and we found the kiwi guardian post !!
After the waterfall we thought we would carry on to see how far till the end of the track where the slip was. It actually was not to much further only about 10min. You followed the track along the rail way line until you got to the large swing bridge which had been built in place of where the old rail bridge was.
The views from the bridge were worth a look, only 2min up the track from the bridge was the end of the line at the slip.
The whole walk took us pretty much bang on 3hrs that was including a few snack breaks and taking photos etc. It was a big day for the kids but it was well worth it.
This track was fantastic, we really loved it and would most definitely do it again. I highly recommend it to any one heading to the area to put aside the time to do it.
Most of the track is flat with not to many up hill hard bits so although it is long it would say most people would be able to achieve it.
Once the slip is cleared it would make it a much more achievable track as you could get dropped at one end and walk to the other end to be picked up. I would estimate this to only talk about 1hr 30min - 1hr 45min if you only have to walk one way.
We are definitely planning on another trip in the future but this time we will try biking it. So keep an eye out for an biking update version on this track, we will make sure we share what we learn with you all.
"it was a big walk and it was hot but the waterfall was so cool I wish i could swim in it! it was super loud. It was fun walking along the train tracks" Meika O'Donnell aged 7
Kiwi Guardian Link
What to Bring
Go well prepared, this is the West coast and the weather can change very fast. It was a very hot day when we were there but we still carried raincoats and jerseys in our packs with us and yes we did end up using them. Some parts of the covered bush was a bit chilly especially when you stopped moving, so do pack a full day bag.
I would also wear sturdy shoes, boots if you have them as parts of the track are slippery.
Don't forget to pack water, snacks, sunblock in summer and bug spray all year round.
Time and Distance
Ngakawau end to slip and back 10min
Watsons Mill end to slip and back 3hrs return (walking) 12km return track.
Some parts of the track as slippery even in the height of summer, don't let your kids run off ahead of you as they could slip and tumble down a bank. Keep them in eye sight. This track is not pram friendly.
You are aloud to mountain bike on this track as well so keep one ear out for bikes coming your way.
You are also aloud dogs on the track but please keep them on a lead at all times.
- No toilet facility's along the track, so do take a small shovel and some toilet paper with you incase you need go bush.