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Denniston

Denniston is a small settlement, 15 kilometres east of Westport, on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is situated on an exposed rocky plateau, 600 metres above sea level, in the Papahaua Ranges.During the first few decades of the 20th Century, up to 1400 people lived in the townships on the Denniston Plateau to service the large coal mines there. Coal was transported in railway wagons from the plateau via the Denniston Incline to Conns Creek, where steam locomotives of New Zealand Railways took coal trains to the port of Westport.The Denniston Incline closed in 1967. The plateau now has a population of fewer than 10 people, and virtually all the buildings and structures have gone, although many historical relics remain – scattered throughout the plateau and incline area amongst the scrub vegetation.There are proposals for future mining on the Denniston Plateau.OverviewThe townships of the Denniston Plateau, and the Denniston Incline itself, existed solely to extract coal from the plateau. Living conditions at Denniston were harsh; the rocky, windswept plateau is often immersed in cloud, receives a high annual rainfall, and very low temperatures are common. Once good road access to the plateau was established and the demand for coal declined, the townships shrank — and disappeared altogether once the incline and mines closed. A former schoolhouse, now used as a museum, is one of the few buildings remaining. Very few people now live on the plateau but the area is of increasing interest to tourists interested in its history. Future opencast mining is a possibility.
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