Action on the Incline

The Westport Coal Company’s Denniston coalmine was a burning star. The quality of the coal was superb.

Off shift, miners await the bus to take them home. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

For almost 100 years the Denniston Incline, known locally as the Eighth Wonder of the World, lowered coal 518 metres in altitude from amongst the clouds of the Rochfort Plateau to Conns Creek railway yard at the coastal township of Waimangaroa.

Eighty full wagons travelled the Incline a day, around three hundred and fifty tonnes of coal.

Historic film footage reveals how the coal was hewn from underground, hauled by rope road across a barren terrain, weighed, screened, stored and poured into wagons to be lowered down the hill from where it was railed to Westport wharf and dropped into the holds of waiting colliers.

Denniston is a story told by many, each unearthing another memory, be it of personal hardship, engineering ingenuity, or humorous recollection. The Denniston operation might have been a burning star for the company directors but it was the people of the Plateau who were the true black gold.

Enjoy your exploration of Denniston!

For more information visit


DOC Logos