Ghost town comes alive with Kiwi Ranger

Sarah Mankelow —  07/12/2011
Denniston Kiwi Ranger badge.

Denniston Kiwi Ranger badge

Does becoming a history detective, having sword fights with icicles or exploring rusty relics in a ghost town sound like fun to you?

You can do all this and more, by becoming a Kiwi Ranger at Denniston Historic Reserve this summer. Kiwi Ranger is a fun, interactive programme for kids of all ages – from 3 to 103!

Kiwi Ranger is currently “live” at six sites; Orokonui Ecosanctuary in Dunedin and five national parks; Westland, Nelson Lakes, Mt Aspiring, Arthur’s Pass and Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Each site has its own booklet full of fun activities and walks to do. Completing the activities earns you a badge – unique to each location – and the title of Kiwi Ranger.

It’s a great way for families to explore new places together and learn something as well as having heaps of fun!

Q Wagons at Denniston; photographer Peter Robertson.

Q Wagons at Denniston

Denniston near Westport is the newest Kiwi Ranger site. Once NZ’s largest producing coal mining site and home to around 1500 people, these days it’s a ghost town. But like all good ghost towns there are lots of cool relics and historic remains, stories of human hardship and inspiration.

Denniston’s Kiwi Ranger booklet provides an enjoyable and interactive way to explore the site and get people thinking about what it was like to live and work here.

A scavenger hunt activity gets you looking for ‘Q’ wagons, a banjo shovel or the Banbury Arches. You can become a history detective and find out what life was like her 125 years ago when the place as buzzing. Or you could figure out what kids used to do for fun here before TV, before lego and playstation.

The Denniston Kiwi Ranger booklet can be picked up from the Buller DOC office in Russell Street, Westport. Return your completed booklet to claim your badge!

Check out the Kiwi Ranger website to find out about other Kiwi Ranger locations, where to pick up your booklets and to print out some other activities at

Blank Kiwi Ranger badge.

Blank Kiwi Ranger badge

Design a badge competition

Where would you like to see Kiwi Ranger go next? Design a badge for your favourite place and be in to win a fabulous books and brochures prize pack! Entries close 1 February 2012 – the winner will be announced on the DOC website.

Worksheets available online at

Sarah Mankelow


A North Island defector, I came south to go to Lincoln Uni and never looked back. My first ‘serious’ job with DOC was in Arthur’s Pass. I've been based in Christchurch since the turn of the century!