by Friends of The Hill Society on December 3rd, 2013

Friends of the Hill Get Together
7th 8th 9th March, 2014

Mark your calendars - we would love to see you!

7pm Westport RSA, Palmerston St, Registration and information
10 00am Bus to Denniston, leaving from Post Office
12.00pm Lunch and refreshments provided
3.00pm Bus returns to Westport (drop off at "New" Coaltown Museum if desired.
Special price if you're wearing your name badge.)
5.30pm Happy Hour, at North School, Cobden St., Westport
6.30pm Dinner
10.30pm Supper (tea and cake)
10.00am Remembrance Service at Westport Bridge Club, Lyndhurst St.
                        Morning tea
Cost for weekend $80 per person. Pay own drinks as usual.
Registration forms / information / inquiries contact:
Bev Poynter, 91 Queen St., Westport
Ph. 037898278 or Email:
Download Registration Form here:  Registration Form
While on the Hill, we recommend you take the time to visit the Banbury underground mine, bookings through 0800 881 880 or email

by Friends of The Hill Society on July 29th, 2011

This is a biennial event and due again in 2012. These get togethers are always held on the first weekend in March, Friday evening is registrations in Westport, Saturday is a day on the "Hill" based at the old high school which is now a museum and information centre run by "Friends of the Hill" and on Sunday morning we will gather in Westport for a farewell and morning tea.
More details posted when available.

by Friends of The Hill Society on October 14th, 2010

Watch the Video

By Lachlan Forsyth

It's situated on a miserable, windswept mountain top, but an abandoned coal mine will soon be one of the jewels of West Coast tourism.

The Denniston mine, just north of Westport, is being restored and the project will inject new life into one of the bleakest and most inhospitable settlements in New Zealand.

It wasn't the awful climate that attracted people to Denniston in the 1870's

Peter Robertson from the Denniston heritage trust explains that there were other motivations for moving to the settlement.

“It was born in the age when steam was king and it was blessed with very good deposits of high grade steaming coal” he says.

This cold, damp, mist-shrouded hilltop was once home to a thriving little village that turned into a ghost town when the coal ran out in the late 1960's

The site’s project manager John Green says the conditions were challenging.

“Not so bad for the miners - they were underground all day! The wives and the children had the tough conditions outside” he says.

It was even tougher getting up there on the terrifying Denniston incline, a steep railway line which carried the coal down and people and supplies up.

Despite the transport and the lousy climate, those who grew up there have no complaints now.

Former residents Abbie Curragh and Frank Roberston took life as it came.

“We took it all in our stride. The road could be closed, and the men couldn't get over to work. Sometimes the snow came in when they were at work and they couldn't get back - they had to walk back!”

The old timers are back to help celebrate Denniston's restoration, a project that will give visitors a taste of what it was like, living and working in New Zealand’s most inhospitable coalmine.

Mr Green hopes to restore some of the town’s lost culture.

“It is a part of our heritage that has disappeared - the underground mining culture…” he explains.

You had to be tough to live here old miners say the graft they endured was a world away from today's modern mines

Bob Robertson is one of those former miners.

“It was very wet sometimes. The mines were very shallow. If you were starting today they'd be all opencast” he says.

Denniston is littered with history - twisted metal rusts everywhere and the project is turning up relics and rubbish alike.

The restoration is set for completion by December - allowing visitors to experience the ghosts of Denniston past.

3 News

by Friends of The Hill Society on October 14th, 2010

Checkout some of the brilliant restoration work being carried out at Denniston by DOC.

Posted on October 7th, 2010

On behalf of "Friends of the Hill", I would like to welcome you all to the new Denniston website. I myself was born on the West Coast in a small mining town called Runanga. I knew very little about Denniston until I read about it in the "Denniston Rose". I have had a fascination with it ever since which lead me to contact Sylvia and offer my company's ( services to create a new website for Denniston with a view to educating people on Dennistons history, promote it as a tourist destination and to help preserve the history and artefacts of what is a truly spectacular place with an amazing history. Just checkout the photos below...



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