Reefton is a small town on New Zealand's West Coast region, some 80 km northeast of Greymouth, in the valley of the Inangahua River. State Highway 7 passes through the southern part of the town, and State Highway 69 runs north to connect to State Highway 6. Ahaura is 44 km south-west of Reefton, Inangahua Junction is 34 km to the north, Maruia is 63 km to the east, and the Lewis Pass is 66 km to the south-east.
The mining town of Reefton is sited on river flats where the Inangahua River leaves its narrow gorge through the Victoria Range. Originally a gold-mining town, it became a centre for coal mining in the 20th century. In 2008 gold mining is again dominant, with a large opencast pit opened by Oceana Gold. In 1888 Reefton became the first town in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere to receive electricity, and its streets were lit by commercial electricity generated by the Reefton Power Station
The Saviour of Reefton
David Ziman, a Polish investor with South African experience, visited Reefton in 1895 at the suggestion of Premier Richard Seddon. Realising the potential of the then-depressed mining industry, he formed a new company, Consolidated Goldfields of New Zealand, with the assistance of the Rothschild family. Booming times in Reefton in the first decade of the 20th century were largely due to his energy and foresight.
REEFTON'S TIME LINE
1866 Gold discovered
1888 Town electricity
1888 Electric Street Lights
1892 Railway line opens
1908 Line to Cronadun opens
1912 Reefton "lock out"
1967 Rail passenger services cease