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Waiuta is located in West Coast
Coordinates: 42°17′34″S 171°49′6″E / 42.29278°S 171.81833°E / -42.29278; 171.81833Coordinates: 42°17′34″S 171°49′6″E / 42.29278°S 171.81833°E / -42.29278; 171.81833
CountryNew Zealand
RegionWest Coast
DistrictBuller District

Waiuta is the location of a historic mining town on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is now abandoned and considered one of New Zealand's most popular ghost towns and a great tourist attraction. Located 58 km north of Greymouth and 21 km south of Reefton in Ikamatua, New Zealand, it was the site of a gold mine until 1951 but the collapse of the mine made it uneconomic. A number of buildings remain and there are still residents in what remains of the town. Nowadays Waiuta has become a tourist attraction, with few of the original buildings still intact that include the former police station, three cottages and the old barber shop. Waiuta is a perfect spot for nature lovers, historians and photographers alike.[1]


Blackwater Mine bush railway

Waiuta is most widely known for their goldmine which was founded in 1905, known as the Birthday Quartz Reef as it was found on King Edward VII’s birthday. The first mineshaft operated in 1908 called the Blackwater Shaft and was 563 m in depth. The mine was extended in 1926 with the acquisition of the adjacent Blackwater North claim, which was renamed the Prohibition. The Prohibition shaft took over in 1938 and reached 879 m deep.[2] The mine eventually produced almost 750,000 ounces of gold. Because of the expansion of the mine, more workers began to settle in the area. At first, people kept wanting to rent houses as they were unsure how long the mine was last. However, when the mine was well established by the early 1920s, workers were more willing to build houses and own shops. The area had eventually turned from a mine to a prosperous, growing town. Waiuta started to look less like a mining camp.[3] Even though Waiuta had few residents, many people enjoyed playing outdoor sports, with rugby being the main sport.

Prospering Town[edit]

By 1936, there was a record of 601 people living in Waiuta. Of those 601 people, many were from other countries, like Yugoslavia, Italy and Australia. It was in that year that the town had become the most ethnically diverse, more ethnically diverse than most parts of New Zealand. By 1910, a miner’s hall building was built, for social gatherings, and social meetings. Waiuta’s very first school was also built, and by 1933, there were total of 113 kids. The last major building to be built was the cottage hospital in 1916.

Sudden Decline[edit]

By the time the Second World War came around, a gradual decline in the number of miners occurred, due to many having to go into military service. Between 1939 and 1946 the number of men employed by the company fell from 240 to 113.[4] The amount of gold eventually reduced to less than one third of the pre-war amount, making it difficult to recruit miners after the war. On July 9, of 1951 the Blackwater Shaft collapsed, and the mine began to flood. Since there were no alternative forms of employment in Waiuta, many people became jobless and were forced leave Waiuta and settle somewhere else. Many of the buildings eventually got dismantled, and within a couple months, Waiuta became a ghost town, with nothing to offer.

Waiuta Today[edit]

Nowadays, Waiuta is managed as a historic site for many tourists to visit, as very few buildings still remain. Waiuta offers overnight stays at the Waiuta lodge, where families can stay for however long they wish to. Tour guides a part of a group called “Friends of Waiuta” is a group formed in 1985 in order to teach tourists the town’s history, ecology of the area, and promote it as a tourist destination. They work with the Department of Conservation who manage the historic town and gold mines at Waiuta.[5] The group includes over 120 working members and holds meetings three times a year.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Waiuta". Reefton Works. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  2. ^ "Historic Waiuta Goldmine". newzealand.govt.nz. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  3. ^ Wright, Les. "The Town of Waiuta". New Zealand History Online. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  4. ^ Wright, Les. "The Town of Waiuta". New Zealand History Online. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  5. ^ "Waiuta". Reefton Works. Retrieved 3 April 2014.

External links[edit]