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The small town of Reefton, population about 1,000, is located in the west of New Zealand's South Island, some 80 kilometres northeast of Greymouth, in the valley of the Inangahua River.

Formerly a gold and coal mining town, Reefton today depends largely on coal, forestry, and tourism.

GoldEdit

The rich veins of gold found in a quartz reef near the town led to its name, and also its former delightful name of Quartzopolis. Gold was discovered near the town in 1866, although the major discovery did not come until 1870. Shortly thereafter the town briefly boasted a population of several thousand. Today the population stands at a little over a thousand. However, with opening of a new internationally owned goldmine the population is expected to grow by several hundred in the near future.

Southern Hemisphere "first"Edit

One feature of historical note about Reefton is that it was the first town in the Southern Hemisphere whose streets were lit by commercial electric power, generated by a water-driven steel turbine, in 1888.

Victoria Conservation ParkEdit

The Victoria Conservation Park, the country's largest such park, covers 1,800 square kilometres around the town. It contains stands of all five species of native beech trees.

Railway servicesEdit

Reefton is located on the Stillwater - Westport Line railway, which diverges from the Midland Line in Stillwater.

On 29 February 1892, the line was opened to Reefton, but it terminated on the southern bank of the Inangahua River opposite the town. Early in the 20th century, a bridge was built across the river and the present-day station established in Reefton. The line was opened beyond Reefton to Cronadun in 1908, but it was not until 5 December 1943 that the line officially became a through route to Westport, though trains had been operating the length of the line since July 1942. On 3 August 1936, a railcar passenger service began operating in the morning between Hokitika and Reefton utilising small Leyland diesel railcars, but low patronage meant this service ceased to operate all the way to Reefton in August 1938. In the early 1940s, much larger Vulcan railcars were introduced to New Zealand and they provided two services to Reefton: one local service from Greymouth that terminated in Reefton, and a service that ran between Westport and Stillwater to connect with the West Coast Express. In 1967, all passenger services through Reefton ceased.

Today, the primary traffic on the railway is coal, with multiple coal trains operating daily.

At least one former resident of Reefton became a train manager with Tranz Metro.

HorseracingEdit

A distinction given to the town in January 2007 was that its racetrack hosted the last commentary by veteran broadcaster Reon Murtha.

External linksEdit


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