DANNY DE HEK Entrepreneur Decision Maker Connector Podcaster EducatorExperience the joy of finding little-known, hidden places, in the wilderness zone between Reefton on the West Coast, and Lewis Pass in the Southern Alps.

The Victoria Forest Park is a seldom-visited mountainous expanse that has the honour of being the largest forest park in the country. The park contains some of our finest beech forests and fascinating mining relics of the historic Reefton quartz gold workings. There are heaps of activities to cater for all tastes, including walks along old mining trails, tramps over steep tussock ridges, hunting for chamois and red deer, fishing for rainbow and brown trout, gold panning, camping, 4WD trips and horse-trekking.

Reefton is a suitable place to begin your explorations of the park. This pleasant town got its name from the gold-bearing quartz reefs in the area. It is the centre of some great walking country leading up towards the Lewis Pass. Reefton installed electric street lighting in 1888 before the rest of New Zealand.

The Big River Track beginning 11 km south of Reefton gives access to a wealth of historic mining sites, and attractive wilderness areas. The massive poppet head structure over the Big River Mine is still standing, and highlights the laborious task of lifting ore from the deep mine shafts, to be crushed by stamper batteries.

Lake Stream is a pleasant jaunt into the isolated sub-alpine environment of Victoria Forest Park. The track starts 11 km west of Springs Junction, plunging into charming moss-draped beech forest and up to a tiny bivouac nestled against the bush-edge. Lake Cristabel is a 2-3 day tramp leading to a magnificent blue gem of a lake, with views over the entire Victoria Range. The most accessible peak in the park is Mt Haast, which can be climbed in a day from the Inangahua Bridge.

Our biggest forest park has stunning views, wonderful grassy flats and green canopies in valleys like Lake Stream. Climbing to the rugged ridge tops is a serious business as the route scrambles over bluffs and razorback ridges.

It’s a big challenge to conquer the big park.