West Coast town rockin'

Published: 3 August, 2022

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  • West Coast

Reefton may be a small town on the West Coast, but there is nothing small about the aspirations had here.

Last year, Infometrics released data about the rise in Reefton’s GDP from $39.4 million in 2019 to $54.1 million in 2021 in mining alone.

Robert Pigou, Head of Kānoa – Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit (RDU) says: “It’s very encouraging to see the local Reefton economy doing so well. In December 2019, Kānoa – RDU approved a $15 million Provincial Growth Fund loan for Federation Mining to support its Blackwater Gold Mine development. This investment is projected to result in 100 additional jobs to support the current 40 staff and contractors by 2024.

In addition to mining, Reefton’s tourism, dairy industry, distilleries, and service sector all had a hand in boosting the economy of this town. A truly impressive feat for a town with a population of less than 1,000 people.”

Projects like the Blackwater Gold Mine development in Reefton are amongst 1,354 regional economic development initiatives made possible by investment from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), one of eight funds administered by Kānoa – RDU based at the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Since its inception in late 2017, Kānoa – RDU has supported 113 West Coast Te Tai Poutini projects with loans or investments totalling $238.8 million.

Additional West Coast Te Tai Poutini projects include:

Dolomite Point Redevelopment Project

Dolomite Point, in Punakaiki, is one of New Zealand’s most visited spots with more than half a million people visiting the site every year. It is also a significant site for Ngāti Waewae.

The Provincial Growth Fund is supporting this important work with a grant of $25.6 million.

This investment will improve safety and expand the tourist experience at Punakaiki to include more of the region’s unique scenery, culture and history, including that of Ngāti Waewae.

The works will also protect the unique environment and cultural significance of these sites by creating more sustainable tourism offerings.

Kawatiri Coastal Trail

The Kawatiri Coastal Trail, a 55km family-friendly heritage trail which highlights the West Coast’s history and unique flora and fauna is in full development supported by a $9.3 million investment from the Provincial Growth Fund.

Built to New Zealand’s cycle trail level two standards, the trail will highlight the unique flora, and fauna and history and allow users to enter and exit the trail at multiple sites.

Visitors will see wild coastal views combined with unique geology and landforms such as the Cape Foulwind headland and exceptional ecological diversity along the trail which provides access to a variety of native trees such as Kahikatea and wetlands and wildlife including seals, penguins, weka and kiwi.

The track passes through areas of high significance to local iwi Māori, allowing Ngai Tahu to share their stories. It also passes through gold rush heritage sites, making the rich history of the area available to locals and visitors alike.

Business analysis suggests the Kawatiri Coastal Trail will attract 8,000 out–of-region users in its first year, increasing to 16,600 over ten years. The Trail will also be enjoyed by locals over 45,000 level-two cycle heritage trail that connects the Buller District towns of Westport and Charleston.