Reefton's History

The town owes its origins to the discovery of gold bearing quartz reefs in the locality in the late 1860s when the gold rush fever hit the West Coast.

The town itself became established about 1870 and immediately became an entrepreneurial and prosperous place.
With mining came technology and innovation, and in August 1888 Reefton became the first place in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere to have a public supply of electricity, even before the fashionable suburbs of London and New York.


Wander around the streets of Reefton including Broadway, the town's main street with its pioneer and verandahed look. Take in the history, explore the historic buildings and imagine what it was like back in the 1870s when the promise of gold and lasting prosperity built the town. The many buildings dating back to the beginning help you recreate Reefton's past - the Surveyors House (1871), the 'Top of the Town' shops and Forsyth & Masters Store (1870s), the Courthouse (1873), the Oddfellows Hall (1872), Bank of New Zealand (1873), National Bank (1873), Catholic Church (1877), St Stephens Anglican Church (1878), Reefton School of Mines (1886) and the Band Hall (1901).

Reefton is also rich in rail heritage with the world's only Single 'R' Class Fairlie locomotive in its original form sitting right in the heart of town. Just out of town on SH 69 towards Westport, the Reefton railway precinct retains its 19th Century railway station (1892) and the country's only remaining single row two-stall steam engine shed (1892), both former Midland Railway Company buildings.

Miners Hut

Bringing history further to life are the Bearded Mining Company at the Miners Hut. This replica hut depicting 1860s style housing is made of native cedar slabs and set amongst native plantings right in the heart of town on Broadway.
Gavin, Peter and Geoff are 'in residence' all year, and welcome visitors in to learn how a miner lived in the 19th century when the promise of gold lured thousands of prospectors to the area.
You can sit in front of the fire, enjoy a cup of tea, watch pieces of iron and steel being shaped on the blacksmith forge or try your hand at gold panning where flakes of gold are 'guaranteed' to be found.

Enquiries to the Reefton Visitor Centre or Geoff on 03 732 8377, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Reefton School of Mines

Opened in 1886 it was the school where miners learnt their trade and where at times local school children came to learn about chemistry as part of their schooling. The simple gabled building holds an extensive technical book collection, a wonderful mineral collection sourced from places around the world, and out the back in the assay room crucibles wait on the shelves for their next charge of gold.
If you would like to veiw the School of Mines please contact the Reefton i-SITE before your arrival in Reefton. Entry is $2.00/adult; children are free.


Bev's Doll & Toy Museum

A wonderful collection of antique dolls, toys, prams and teddy bears -there's just thousands and thousands living in Bev and Lionel's house. A visit to this museum is a fascinating visit for those who wish to take a walk down memory lane and remember their childhood years.
Visits are by arrangement through the Reefton Visitor Centre or by contacting Bev Donaldson, 03 732 8597. Entry is a gold coin donation.


Heritage Reefton & Blacks Point Tours

The Reefton Historic Trust Board offers historic tours around Reefton and nearby Blacks Point. Take the opportunity to wander around the town's historic area with entertaining and informative guides, delve into the history and hear some of the stories from the ancestors of today's Reefton residents. Starting with a tour of the Reefton visitor and interpretive centre, you can visit many of Reefton’s historic public buildings including the School of Mines, Oddfellows Hall, Reefton Courthouse and St Xaviers Anglican Church, browse in some of the 1870s shops that have been carefully adapted for today's use, and enjoy a cup of billy tea and girdle scones with the Bearded Miners.
The tour can extend to the Cornish settlement of Blacks Point just 2 km east of Reefton. In Blacks Point you can visit the Blacks Point Museum, the Gold Stamper Battery which was used to process the ore containing the gold, wander past some of the lovely miners cottage and cottage gardens, and along the 15 minute Golden Fleece Walk through beautiful beech forest accompanied by tui and bellbird.
Specific tours can be developed to meet your interest or time available. The route and tour time for the Heritage Reefton / Heritage Reefton & Blacks Point tour can range from half an hour through to three hours for the full Reefton and Blacks Point experience. Tours include morning or afternoon tea with the Bearded Miners. Catering for morning and afternoon tea, lunch, etc is also available.

Enquiries and bookings can be made by contacting Ronnie Buckman or Paul Thomas on: 03 732 8633 or 0274 424 777.
Email to: 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
or via the Reefton Visitor Centre on 03 732 8391.

A 'Historic Reefton' walking brochure is available from the Reefton Visitor Centre which allows
visitors to walk independently around Reefton guided by the brochure route guide.
Around the Globe' Gold Mine Tours

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