Reefton is the major intermediate station between Stillwater and Westport. The line was originally called the Stillwater Westport Line, as the line north of Westport was opened as the Seddonville Branch. The branch line north of Ngakawau was closed in 1981 and over time, as Westport dminished in importance, a bypass track was built to allow through trains to Ngakawau to bypass Westport, instead of needing to go into the station and reverse direction as they would have done when the line was originally opened. The name was then changed to Stillwater Ngakawau Line. Reefton is a major coal loading station. Of course there has historically been coal loaded at many different places between Stillwater and Seddonville and on the line today, the coal currently comes in at Stillwater, Maimai, Reefton and Ngakawau.
Reefton showing the main coal stockpile and loading. At far right is the historic engine depot which has been restored by a local heritage group. In upper left is an old siding which went out to the Burkes Creek Colliery. This was worked by an old ex-NZR Single Fairlie locomotive R 28. The locomotive now resides on the riverbank at the south end of Reefton and is under a shelter. Plans are in effect for the same group that maintains the engine shed to restore R 28.
A full size view of Reefton with the full length of the Burkes Creek colliery line, the township’s street layout and the location of R28 included. Burkes Creek is still an opencast coal mine and there are many mines around Reefton even today.
A large scale map of the Reefton area and with a bit more detail, the numbers are spot heights and show where the hills are. The Giles Creek mine is to the right and Maimai where the coal is loaded is just out of sight at upper left. As I noted on my post about Maimai this mine is actually closer to Reefton than Maimai, however there would have been less roading cost to get the coal out to Maimai.