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River Rafting & Tubing · Landmarks
Charleston is a village in the South Island of New Zealand located 30 km south of Westport. It was founded as a goldmining town after a major goldrush in 1867, and is now an adventure tourist village noted for its extensive limestone caves and caving experiences. Guided tours of the nearby Metro Cave / Te Ananui Cave are operated out of Charleston and travel up the Nile River valley.HistoryCharleston’s origins owe much to gold prospector William Fox. He was born in Ireland in about 1826 and as a young man became a sailor, then a gold prospector. He was on the Californian goldfields about 1850; then on the Victorian goldfields in Australia; and on the Tuapeka goldfield in Otago in 1861.In 1862 Bill Fox's prospecting activities in the Arrow district excited intense interest. In 1864, Fox travelled to the West Coast. He prospected widely for gold and first discovered it at Fox Creek, a tributary of the Arahura River behind Hokitika, in January 1865.According to local historian Les Wright, in July 1866 Fox organised a prospecting voyage to what was later named Fox River but didn't find gold there. He led the party on 20 km north to where Charleston would later be, but although they found gold in the sand there, it was too fine to save. So Fox went south to Ōkārito to find out how the miners there were extracting it from fine sand.In August 1866, while Fox was away, took the credit for the Pakihi ('Parkeese') field which later became known as the Charleston field. At first, goods going to 'Parkeese' were landed at Woodpecker Bay, south of Fox River, and humped about 20 km north to the goldfield. Then Capt Charles Bonner managed to squeeze the ketch 'Constant' into a tiny bay near 'Parkeese' and the town that formed around this new landing spot, Constant Bay, was named Charleston, probably in his honour. Reed (2002) indicates that the community was originally known as 'Charlie's Town', and then 'Charles Town', before settling on the current name.
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