Ross, located 15 minutes south of Hokitika, was settled in 1865 mainly as a gold mining town which at its peak had a population of about 2,500 people drawn by the lure of gold as well as numerous hotels to service the thirsty miners. Today the town has a resident population of 297 at the 2013 census and has become a popular base for people working in Hokitika and Greymouth as well as staff employed by Birchfield Mining who operate a large gold mining operation in the area.
During spring, the main street of Ross, which is also the State Highway, is lined with blossom trees in flower which were planted by the Community Association.
In 1909, two miners working in Jones Creek close to the township unearthed a gold nugget weighing around 3.1 kg which was then and still is the largest found in New Zealand. It was christened “The Honourable Roddy Nugget” after the then Minister of Mines, Roderick McKenzie. The nugget was used as a doorstop at a local hotel for many years before being raffled to raise money to build the local hospital. This raffle was the start of New Zealand’s first Golden Kiwi Lottery. In 1911 the nugget was gifted to King George V as a coronation gift and was sadly melted down and gilded on a tea set.
Ross is bordered by the Totara and Mikonui Rivers to the North and South and the Southern Alps and Tasman Sea to the east and west. It is a paradise for anyone with a love or yearn to explore the outdoors. Walks close to Ross include the old Railway walk, which is currently being converted into a cycle way from Hokitika, or the Water Race through rainforest which also takes in a historic cemetery, an old miners hut and tunnels as well as spectacular views of the coastline and valley. There is excellent trout fishing and white baiting in the rivers close by while the surfcasting from the Ross beach is among the best on the West Coast.
The Ross Goldfields Information and Heritage Centre, which is operated by the local community, has a great shop showcasing local art, crafts, souvenirs and gifts as well the local history of the area. Visitors can also try their hand at panning for gold while staff are always happy to help with accommodation and other travel enquiries as well as the many attractions in the area. The town has two hotels, bed and breakfast outlets as well as backpacker accommodation and campsites.
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