March 10 Constant and Joyce Bays (Day 165)

A hazy foggy morning developed into a sunny warm afternoon so we drove about 20 minutes up the road to Charleston, a tiny village closer to Westport. Charleston’s beginnings in the 1860’s mirrored and competed with Fox River’s (the area we are staying), as gold mining hubs. In Charleston’s case, there is more of a village now as compared to Fox River, but in the heyday of the gold rush era they were about equal in size! According to a NZ history site “From the junction of the Buller Gorge road (leading into Westport) southwards to Charleston, the road passes over a series of flat terraces. These flat areas were originally under the sea, and have gradually been uplifted over thousands of years. Concentrations of fine gold accumulated with black sand along ancient beaches. The area was swarming with gold prospectors in the 1860s and 1870s, and original forest was cleared. There is now little sign of mining activity except at Mitchells Gully mine, open as a tourist attraction, where old tunnels and mining machinery can be seen.”

We stopped at Constant and Joyce Bays car park and started the short walk along the rugged coast.

The two bays are tiny and Constant Bay has a nice sandy beach.

We walked further through the stands of tall flax plants and emerged on the rocky shoreline.

The entrance to Constant Bay is tiny and narrow. The waves were intimidating!

Further along the trail the waves were crashing in this inlet!

At the rocky headland the path looped back to the carpark.

While taking in the view here we spotted a small backpack in the rocks across a chasm and speculated where it came from and who got it over there? Eventually a young woman in climbing gear appeared, maybe from a small cave we saw in the rocks. Then we noticed bolts in the rocks in several areas for climbing ropes and realized this must be a pretty good rock-climbing spot! What a view, but no option for mistakes with the crashing waves below!


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