Solid Energy, the State owned coal mining company, has a resource consent to proceed with a mine in Happy Valley on the West Coast. Happy Valley is an unofficial name for an area at the head of the Waimangaroa River. It is a pristine landscape and a largely unmodified ecosystem. There is currently an ongoing occupation as part of a protest against the mine and at this stage Solid Energy has not commenced any work on the mine.
To get there head north from Westport and at Waimangaroa turn right and wind your way up to Denniston. This is a good place to have a look around since it is a well set out historic mining site. After Denniston, turn left down the road to Burnetts Face. At the bottom of the road go straight ahead though the truck turning circle and on to a four wheel drive track. Most four wheel drive vehicles can go all the way to the Waimangaroa river crossing and two wheel drive cars can only go part way - depending on the car, the driver and state of the road at the time.
The track starts at the end of the four wheel drive track that carries on after crossing the Wiamangaroa River. There are a few markers and cairns at the start of the track. It heads up and onto a sloping sandstone pavement. The track is quite well marked and allow for about three hours at a relaxed tramping pace.
The Save Happy Valley Coalition maintains an occupation camp overlooking the valley. It is well equipped with accommodation, cooking facilities including a gas cooker, pots, plates, cutlery and a range of food items. There is often fresh food and vegetables at the camp.
More information is at the Save Happy Valley Coalition website.
Happy Valley, Westport
This is a day walk or overnight tramp into yet another unique corner of New Zealand. See for yourself why this landscape should not be mined for the coal.