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Thirteen plots of former gold-miner land go up for sale on the West Coast

There's mystery over who is eyeing up abandoned land in a former West Coast mining town.

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Several plots of land in the small town of Charleston have gone up for sale. Source: 1 NEWS

Thirteen plots of land have gone up for sale in Charleston, formerly used by goldminers in the 1860s.

Underworld Adventures founding director Geoff Schurr, who built his business on a number of small abandoned sections more than 20 years ago, says "the old fellas, they just walked off the land, and while they still had title to the land, it becomes quite a legal process to declare it as abandoned".

The Buller District Council is co-ordinating the sale process, but does not own the land, nor can it gift it to community groups.

The history of the properties date back to 1867, when thousands came to the area to try their fortune in the goldfields.

The Westport Genealogy & History Group are currently researching that era, revealing the stories of those who owned the land.

One of the sections belonged to goldminer George Aldous, who was born in Suffolk, England. He was recorded in one newspaper as "following the life of a gold digger" before going on to set up a hairdressers in Charleston. He left the area in 1874 and later died in Wellington.

Buller District Mayor Jamie Cleine says the land "creates some options" for the small rural township "which don't exist at the moment".

Mr Schurr hopes that could include more beds to welcome new residents, visitors and workers.

He says at the peak of the summer season, "we have difficulty just getting accommodation for our staff".

Charleston is already known for its caving and rafting and the success of nearby towns is also spilling into the area.

Motelier Fiona Humphrey recently moved up from Christchurch and set up shop after recognising the area's potential for growth.

"We're definitely getting more people who are needing more accommodation," she says.

"We can see a lot of possibilities ahead with the bike trail and the proposed heritage park and I think more and more Kiwis are choosing to holiday at home and this is an iconic west coast spot".

The mayor says the Paparoa track is already partially opened and will be fully open within a month, "depositing eight to ten thousand people a year again into the Punakaiki area which will all drift north".

But just who will buy into the potential tourism boom remains to be seen, with no bids for the land so far.

Tenders close on March 16.