Ruatapu, New Zealand

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Coordinates: 42°48′S 170°53′E / 42.800°S 170.883°E / -42.800; 170.883

Ruatapu, with Lake Mahinapua shown in the foregound, and the Tasman Sea in the background.
Ruatapu, with Lake Mahinapua shown in the foregound, and the Tasman Sea in the background.
Ruatapu is located in West Coast
Coordinates: 42°48′21″S 170°53′20″E / 42.80583°S 170.88889°E / -42.80583; 170.88889
Country New Zealand
Region West Coast
District Westland District

Ruatapu is a small town in the Westland District in the West Coast region of the South Island of New Zealand. The town's name stems from Ruatapu, a figure in Māori mythology. The town is located on a narrow strip of land between the Tasman Sea and Lake Mahinapua, a shallow lake that was originally a coastal lagoon. State Highway 6 runs through Ruatapu, connecting it to the nearby towns of Hokitika and Ross. The town's economy is based upon agriculture, as well as a large sawmill, operated by Westco Lagan, which mills Radiata Pine for further processing in Christchurch.[1]


On 9 November 1906, the Midland railway line, running from Greymouth to Hokitika, extended a branch line to Ruatapu. Ruatapu acted as the terminus of the railway until 1 April 1909, when it was opened to Ross, and became known as the Ross Branch. Passenger services ceased on 9 October 1972 and the line closed to all traffic on 24 November 1980. Some of the track bed near Ruatapu can now be driven.[2] A large storm in October 1915 ripped the roof off the sawmill (at the time operated by Butler Bros.), demolished a hut, and shifted another house from its foundations.[3]


  1. ^ Operations – Westco Lagan Limited. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  2. ^ David Leitch and Brian Scott, Exploring New Zealand's Ghost Railways, revised edition (Wellington: Grantham House, 1998 [1995]), 60-1.
  3. ^ STORM IN NEW ZEALAND TOWN.Warrnambool Standard. Published 21 October 1915. Retrieved 18 June 2012.