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This work by Caroline McQuarrie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
In the 1870’s the gold-rich underground quartz reefs around Reefton began to be opened up, and many small satellite towns sprung up. Among them were the remote Big River, a company town with all employment related to the underground mine which was open from 1882-1942, and when the mine closed the town quickly dissipated. The highest population was 75 people in 1911. The historic site is made up of three distinct sites; the main town site, 'Tin Town' with remains of company built housing, and the restored boiler house and poppet head which are remains of the old underground mine. Now Big River is within the DOC managed Victoria Forest Park, and can only be reached by a DOC walking track from Waiuta or a 4-wheel drive road from Reefton, the DOC hut the only building still habitable. Further reading: DOC's Big River page, and Reefton visitor information.