Tohu Whenua in the West Coast

The West Coast is rich in heritage - from early Māori sites, to industrial sites including gold and coal mining, and other stunning places that tell the region's story.

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Compelling, engaging, moving – and located in some of the most beautiful landscapes in New Zealand – Tohu Whenua take visitors on a journey through the stories and awe-inspiring places that continue to inspire us today. When we experience these places, we gain a deeper understanding of who we were, who we are, and who we will be in the future. 


The places

  • Brunner Mine - site of New Zealand's worst workplace disaster
  • Denniston - coal mining in the clouds
  • Reefton - this character town, nicknamed "Quartzopolis" was the first to have electricity.

Explore as many of the West Coast's Tohu Whenua as you can to find the connections between the stories, land and people of Aotearoa New Zealand. Download this handy reference (pdf, 1.3mb) to use as a guide for your journey or visit www.tohuwhenua.nz to learn more about the fascinating history you'll see along the way.

  • Remains of brickworks at Brunner Mine

    Remains of the brickworks and kiln at the Brunner Mine. Image: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga

  • Reefton

    View along the main street of the 'Town of Light', Reefton. Image: West Coast Tourism

  • Brunner Mine site

    Brunner Mine Site with the historic suspension bridge in the background. Image: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga

  • Exploring Denniston's tracks

    Exploring the tracks at the top of the incline railway, Denniston. Image: Benhi Dixon

  • Denniston

    At the top of the incline railway at Denniston. Image: Benhi Dixon