Big River - Rainy Creek route

Victoria Forest Park

  • 5 hr 30 min one way
  • Hard

An old route from the Big River goldmining ghost town out to SH7 and the Inangahua River.

This route follows faded trails that may be overgrown or completely gone.

Big River - Rainy Creek route: Key information
Walking time
1 day
5 hr 30 min
One way
One way
This route has not been checked recently. Grades explained
No bookings — open access
No — open access
Big River - Rainy Creek route: Find it
Big River
SH7 at Rainy Creek

This route is historic and may be no longer usable. 

Big River Hut • Serviced Hut (DOC). Capacity: 35.

Big River to Sir Francis Drake Mine Site

This route out from Big River Hut follows the four wheel drive road downriver, ascending gently and following a ridge beside Carr Creek. The travel is fast and easy although dull, with rare views and no water. Large sections of low, regenerating mānuka forest are passed through. After 90 minutes a short adit is passed. The ceilings of some of these adits are covered with  cave wētā, which come out at night to feed on the forest floor. Glow worms can also be found.

After a further 20 minutes, pass an old road leading off to the left. The Big River Road climbs to traverse the southern side of a well-mined hill. Twenty minutes later the A1 Adit is passed, quickly succeeded by the OK Adit. This passage leads to a number of old, wet tunnels that head far into the hillside. A track soon leads to the right descending one hour to the Golden Lead Battery, and another soon after leads up to the Golden Lead Mine on the left. Further mines are passed to the left and a road bends down also from the left. Mounds of tailings from the Drake Mine are obvious on the right. There is a small creek here.

Sir Francis Drake Mine Site to SH7

It's ten minutes to the Merrijiggs Hotel site, a grassy space on the left, with the Scotia Mine site immediately after. An unused road branches off here to the right. Leave the Big River Road at this point. The old road continues as far as the Inangahua River and ensures a gentle gradient, if nothing else. Soon the track crosses the intersection of two new, wide mining roads on the diagonal. These roads are associated with the Globe Progress opencast mining operation. The roads, needless to say, have been put through with no regard for the old roads or the trampers who use them. The track is rough on the other side and soon meets one of the roads again where a track branches leftward to Cornishtown. Our track crosses the new road and heads for Rainy Creek.

When you turn onto Rainy Creek proper, the track disappears. The old road is overgrown with horopito, hook grass and tree ferns. But where you can find it, it is easier travel than the river bed. It can be found on the true right bank but becomes impenetrable quickly. Follow the creek down to a small two metre fall and try again on the true right. Occasional markers on trees provide little encouragement. A while later the road crosses to the true left and climbs a few metres above the river. A wide ledge is visible from the creekbed a few metres up on the left bank, and you can walk back to find the ford. The road continues on a high sidle, well above the river, for some time before dropping down again. An old moss-covered bridge is very nearly invisible, but quite rotten. The track becomes vague and eventually reappears on the true right, where it remains as a stripe of regrowth out to the Inangahua River. Ford the river, which is full of coal here, to the highway. It's only a couple of kilometres south to the Inangahua Swingbridge.

Walking times

  • Big River to Sir Francis Drake Mine Site: 2.5 to 3 hours
  • Sir Francis Drake Mine Site to SH 7: 2 to 2.5 hours
This track needs a photograph.
ID 16926

About this track

Added 27 June 2019 by matthewmatthew. 1 revision 27 June 2019 by matthewmatthew.
33 views in the past year (3 per month).