The Aorere valley follows up the river from Collingwood, at the river mouth, through Rockville and Bainham, to Brown Hut at the start of the Heaphy Track.
Rockville is home to the Settlers’ Museum – in the former Rockville Dairy Factory – which houses a range of farm machinery and various other objects of interest, dating back to the days of the early settlers in Golden Bay. The museum is maintained and developed by a group of enthusiastic volunteers. On some Sundays during summer, they have a “steam-up” when the various steam engines in the museum are set going. Vintage tractors can often also be seen driving around.
The Aorere Valley was once a famous gold panning area. Now it is important for its tourist attractions, and as the way to the end of the Heaphy Track. Attractions worthy of note include the Devil’s Boots rock formations, the Langford Store and Post Office at Bainham (run by the Langford family since 1928, a store as it was in the “old days”) and the Aorere Goldfields.
Beyond Bainham, the road deteriorates into a gravel road. Shortly after the end of the seal is a turn-off (left) to the Salisbury Bridge and Falls. The bridge, a suspension bridge constructed in the 1800s for the miners, was swept away in floods a few years ago, after surviving for more than a century. The nearby falls are worth a visit.
The road ends at the Heaphy Track car park just before Brown Hut, the starting point for the Heaphy Track, one of the “Great Walks” of New Zealand. This track is a “must do” on the list of hikes in New Zealand, emerging on the West Coast just north of Karamea.