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    Dorothy - 29/1/99

    A tiny dot on the map but a fast developing holiday centre

    How did we find it?
    We were driving from Greymouth to Reefton on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand and had not brought our usual thermos flask of hot water, tea and coffee. It was a hot morning and we got really thirsty. The next township on the road was Ikamatua and it looked as though the local hotel would be the only source of morning tea. The pub looked quite an ordinary New Zealand pub in the old style.

    A friendly reception typical of the famed West Coast hospitality - "Of course we serve morning tea. Would you like new scones and jam or cake? Perhaps you'd like to have it in the garden." We chose tea and scones in the garden behind the hotel.

    Garden surprise
    The garden offered a big surprise. At the other side of a large lawn stood the Ikamatua Railway Station. A large marquee was on the lawn. When the friendly proprietor brought the first rate scones and tea we started asking her questions about this unusual place.

    Nette and Brian's story
    Nette and Brian Collins
    Nette and Brian Collins
    Twelve and a half years ago Nette and Brian Collins gave up their clerical jobs in Ashburton and bought the hotel in Ikamatua to begin a steep learning curve, especially in the early weeks.

    They have never looked back and never stopped working to offer a special kind of holiday centre. They have now been joined in the venture by their son Gregory and his Canadian wife Deedee.

    Ikamatua's story
    Years ago the village had three timber mills and was the base town for the gold mining centre at Waiuta. The timber mills have closed and the gold mine closed in 1954. It is still the district centre for the farming community and people picking sphagnum moss. 125 residents live in the village.

    Why visit Ikamatua?
    To fish

    It's beside rivers and numerous streams close at hand for fishing for trout. In the small streams the season is from October to March, but the Grey River is open for fishing all year. Not far away are Lakes Haupiri and Hochstetter. Two fishing guides operate from the hotel as their base.

    To find a peaceful retreat
    The valley plain is surrounded by bushclad hills. It's a peaceful little village. If you want to get away from the city, it's your answer.

    For activities
    The ghost town of Waiuta, 17 kilometres (10.5 miles) away, has been developed as a historical site for visitors.

    The Visitors' Centre in Reefton, twenty minutes' drive away, has full information about the area and its history, including a simulation of a mine.

    There is a swimming pool on site.

    Pig and deer hunting attracts a lot of shooters.

    For special events
    The hotel is becoming increasingly popular as a centre for weekend events.

    The hotel at a time of celebration
    The hotel at a time of celebration

    Shearing competition
    This is held in early January.

    At Waitangi weekend there is to be a motocross event called the Golden Nuggets. Trophies have been donated featuring greenstone and gold from the area. It's not part of the championship. It's just a relaxing weekend.

    The Darcy Seymour Memorial Chop
    Darcy Seymour's records for chopping still stand for Australasia. Seventy eight choppers from all over New Zealand attend this contest.

    The Grey Valley Rugby Club pick up the chips and sell them for the club funds.

    Four wheel drive clubs
    These clubs book out the holiday weekends.

    Old American war jeeps
    These enthusiasts are coming to Ikamatua this month.

    Senior citizens walking group
    These people have booked in during February.

    Duck shooters
    The shooters visit in May.

    Campervan rallies
    The hotel has become a popular centre for these.

    Market days
    The marquee is used for stalls on the days of special events.

    Budget-priced accommodation
    A cabin near the swimming pool
    A cabin near the swimming pool
    Nette and Brian wanted to develop a place where families could afford to stay. They have transported ten cabins to the site, sleeping from two to five people in each cabin. They are well maintained and surrounded by pleasant gardens.

    There are toilets and bathrooms beside each group of cabins. The beds are comfortable. Sheets can be hired, but most people bring their sleeping bags.

    The station
    The Ikamatua Railway station on its new site.
    The Ikamatua Railway station on its new site.
    In the late eighties the station was no longer used as the railway line from Greymouth to Westport carried only freight and the new coal trucks wouldn't go under the verandah. The verandah was removed and then demolition was planned. Nette and Brian saw its potential for their holiday centre, and negotiated to buy it.

    Ikamatua is a community where people pull together, and the Lions Club cut the station in half and shifted it to the back of the hotel lawn. Now it has an ablution block at one end, a well equipped kitchen and free washing machine in the centre, and a back packers' dormitory to sleep six at the other end.

    There are sites for tents and campervans and six power points are available.

    Hotel rooms
    The present programme of improvement is the redecorating of the three double bedrooms in the hotel - each with an ensuite.

    Full meals are available in an attractive dining room.

    A Christmas party in the dining room
    A Christmas party in the dining room

    Evenings - a time for being sociable
    There's a warm welcome in the bar and karaoke if you want it.

    Special parties
    There was a street party at New Year this year and another is planned for the millennium.

    If you like what you've read put this place on your list of holiday destinations NOW.

    Published with permission from NZine