The entire trail, starting at Hector and finishing at Seddonville, is 19km long. It’s also suitable for running and is a Grade 3 Mountain Bike track.
Charming Creek Walkway is located 35-40 minutes from Omau Settlers Lodge heading North of Westport. We often suggest this walk to visitors who don’t have time to go all the way to Karamea, yet want to access to a nice easy walking track.
Beautiful Charming Creek Walkway starts at Ngakawau and there is a gravel car parking area on Ratcliff Road which is at the entrance of the track. Initially the walkway follows an old disused railway line which used to haul coal & timber out of the valley. The tree lined track meanders through native forest, running parallel to the Ngakawau River and hugging sheer bluffs within the Ngakawau Gorge.
Lee and I have only walked a portion of the walkway, starting at the Ngakawau walkway entrance and walking as far as the Mangatini Falls. Allow approximately an hour return for this section of the track which is around 4km each way.
When my good friend Hannah came to stay recently, the Charming Creek walkway was at the top of the must do list. Hannah is a keen runner and although the walkway would be the perfect place for an off-road training run, I managed to talk her out of that idea; I only have one speed these days, and it’s most definitely a walk!
If you are planning a trip North of Westport and have an hour or so to spare, I highly recommend a leisurely stroll along Charming Creek walkway. The native plants and idyllic setting are amazing, and along the track you will pass through several tunnels and areas of historical interest. You’ll probably see some native New Zealand birds such as Tui and Weka. If you’re lucky you may even see one of our large, native (and carnivorous) snail; distinctly recognizable for its shiny shell with colors ranging from red, brown to black or yellow.
Beyond the suspension bridge you will see spectacular vistas of the gorge as well as an impressive view of the Mangatini Falls, which is also visible from the track beyond the bridge. You’ll also pass through a 50m tunnel leading to a section of the track called The Verandah – the sound of white water thundering through the river along the canyon adds to the drama. The track continues to the river flats of Charming Creek and historic site of Watson’s Mill. About 400m past the small suspension bridge which spans the creek is sulphur ‘Stink Hole’, which is a seepage hole drilled during coal prospecting operations in 1910-1912. The track eventually reaches Mumm’s Mill site and then the Charming Creek mine entrance and a car parking area which marks the end of the track.
For more information about the Charming Creek Walkway, visit theDepartment of Conservation (DOC) website.