Local Heart, Global Soul

October 16, 2018

Reefton Lights Up The Southern Hemisphere…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch went on a road trip in January 2018, making a side trip away from their favourite haunt in Hanmer Springs.

We have left Maruia Springs and our mornings tea (well, breakfast for the kids) and head onwards until we come to a fork in the highway.

The map tells us that branching to the north on State Highway 65 would eventually bring us out in Nelson, (yellow line on the map below) another New Zealand gem all on it’s own, but for future trip.

Staying on State Highway 7 will bring us to Greymouth, via Reefton (red line). Shortly after Reefton the road branches again, keeping west brings us out in Greymouth, whereas branching to the north-west would bring you to Westport (blue line) Ergo the Kilometre distance marker to each being exactly the same.

We are heading to Greymouth, so following the red line. I am informed by Wikipedia that: “In 1888 Reefton became the first town in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere to receive electricity,the work of Walter Prince, and its streets were lit by commercial electricity generated by the Reefton Power Station.

Rich veins of gold found in a quartz reef near the town led to its name, and also its former name of Quartzopolis. (Kiwi’s note: “Quartzopolis” sounds like the name of the villains lair in a comic strip or movie).

Intrigued by a name I have never heard of I did a quick search and found this http://www.ipenz.org.nz/heritage/itemdetail.cfm?itemid=2096 “Engineering Heritage of New Zealand”: “In 1886, following a demonstration of electric lighting in four of the hotels in Reefton by self styled “electrician”, Walter Prince, it was decided to form a company to build a power station to provide electricity for the lighting the town.

The Reefton Power Station was completed a few years later and on 4 August 1888 it became the first public power supply in New Zealand.”
Gold was first discovered near the town in 1866, although the major discovery was made in 1870. Soon after, the town briefly boasted a population of several thousand. This later dwindled to less than a thousand. Other industries in the town are coal mining, forestry, tourism and angling.

The town as it is today looks lively, and very much geared up for the passing tourist trade, taking advantage of the winding roads, vastly different driving conditions than most northern hemisphere tourists are used to and thus the need for a break from driving, restrooms and refreshments. This is a country town with plenty of guts and life, staying relevant and making the most of it’s location. I could live In Reefton very happily indeed.

Hanmer to Greymouth, Map made via Google Earth.

Opps… I forgot to add the map until some hours after this posted, apologies. (I’d made the post several weeks before, and the map at the last minute because I thought it would help to visualise how the route we took looked on a map.) Then of course I forgot to actually add the map to the blog post. Duh… I’ll blame my pain medications but realistically I just have moments of stupid and this apparently was one of them!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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