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Trip Start Nov 09, 2011
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when we were here last we took the Arthurs pass road from greymouth today we headed off on the sh7 to reefton following the river mawheranui valley which is also the coal mining trail. first stop was Brunner the site of the first coal mine along this river. only a few buildings are still standing but the history of the area is told on large information boards with pictures of the early familes who lived here..most of them being immigrants from england brought over with promises of a better life, in the 1850 s, which sadly was not true.
then we took a side road to Blackball after seeing a POP in our caravan bible..we stayed in the sports ground car park ...
we decided to take a look around the town, as it is mentioned as one of the things to do in our guide book so we were intrigued..in the town centre, consisting of a pub, a run down hilton hotel,a working mens club, a shop and a salami factory, was a huge information board and a memorial and a whole load of pictures telling the history of the town..apparently a very important town in the coal mining times and was the site of the first strike by workers in new zealand around 1860, and so was where the labour party was born and rights for the workers began..the memorial is for the 67 miners who lost their lives there in a land slide..
a friendly post lady was delivering letters and stopped to chat to us about our campervan, with "conamor" written above the cab and her being a van enthusiast she knew we were not from the south island and wanted to know more about us..the kiwis are so friendly here everywhere you go people stop to chat no one is in a hurry...!
we took some photos and noticed almost all the little houses were growing their own fruit and veg and we noticed it was warmer here with little wind, apparently it does have its own micro climate here in the valley..a very interesting place..although the town centre had nothing, there were so many houses, a school and a community centre..
we drove on to Reefton, a town born in the late 1860s in the gold rush. It has kept much of its character and charm with many shops again in keeping with the late 1800 s. Reefton also has claim to fame as being the first town to have electric street lights in the southern hemisphere turned on in august 1888 before london or new york..we loved it here..
the rest of the 200km drive to Hanmer springs was of little interest especially as it was now drizzly and misty..we stayed at hanmer springs holiday park..
hanmer is a quaint alpine village with its own natural hot springs but as the weather was not great we did not try them.
we set off for another long drive on the sh7.. we stopped for lunch at Gore bay after taking a look at some interesting rock formations called cathedral cliffs where the sandstone looks like the spires on a church..we watched surfers on the beach and even saw a hedgehog foraging in the grass next to our van..then a short walk along the beach and the cliffs before the rain set in again and it poured and poured for the whole 230km to kaikoura bay car park..