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Travel Guide

Greymouth things to do, attractions, places to go

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In this Article

Greymouth travel guide, best bits

TOP 7 ATTRACTIONS

Unpack, unwind, unforgettable Greymouth
Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, funky Hokitika pounamu (jade) workshops and local art & craft galleries

The top South Island, New Zealand attraction, the Tranzalpine train, arrives daily at the historic Greymouth Station. Hop onboard a world-class train journey for a great introduction to Greymouth; a lively West Coast service hub. Places to go cover local pounamu (jade) shops, galleries showcasing emerging and established artists and arty crafty stores specialisng in recycled goods. The centrally located town is blessed with proximity to key attractions from Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Charleston and underground caving. Into the mix are interesting walks exploring heritage gold mining settlements. Among Greymouth’s charms is Monteith brewery tours, a local brewpub made good on the local and international market. Greymouth is settled on a Maori pa site, Mawhera (widespread river) and is the largest town on the West Coast.

Heritage building of
Heritage building of "The Bank of New Zealand", now the "Left Bank Art Gallery"

TOP 6 UNMISSABLE THINGS TO DO IN GREYMOUTH, SOUTH ISLAND

  • Local brewer, Monteith’s is a New Zealand legend, the 45 minute tour includes beer tasting and a chance to shop in the attached store.
  • Local walks including Coal Creek Waterfalls, Floodwall pathway and Point Elizabeth lookout point illustrate the vulnerability of Greymouth to flooding. The port with its dangerous submerged sandbars provides a fascinating glimpse of the shipping hazards
  • Explore heritage gold mining towns from Runanga Miners Hall to the quirky village of Blackball. Enjoy gold panning in Ross amidst mining relics and peek into the lives of miners in a 19th century cottage.
  • Greymouth heritage precinct walk with Greymouth Railway Station, former Government Offices, hotels and commercial buildings providing insight into the history of Greymouth
  • Brunner Mine Site and the story of the disaster that claimed 65 lives is thought provoking as you spend time looking at the Brunner River visualising working metres below the river bed in underground tunnels.
  • Shantytown replica nineteenth century village attraction is a top attraction for families. There is something for everyone with stagecoach rides, a recreated Victorian main street, bakeries and anvils replicating the sights and sounds of a gold mining bustling settlement
  • Arriving by train on the Tranzalpine Christchurch to Greymouth with its breathtaking views. A bucket list experience for travellers to New Zealand and from New Zealand. One of the world’s great train journeys.
Brunner Mine Site, New Zealand @Tohu Whenua
Brunner Mine Site @Tohu Whenua

GREYMOUTH WALKS & HIKES

West Coast, South Island is a premier walking destination. The West Coast is packed with interesting places to go. Discover heritage gold mining Goldsborough and Nelson Creek complete with tunnels and suspension bridges. Explore Greymouth’s flood walls holding back the massive Grey River on its way to the sea. Enjoy the outdoors on walks to the magnificent Coal Creek and stunning Carew waterfalls. These walks are part of a series of top walks on the West Coast.

Greymouth has several pleasant walks within the town precinct as well as the top attraction, BRUNNER MINE WALK. Unmissable is the Greymouth Floodwall walk providing an extraordinary glimpse into the power of the Grey River and its ability to flood the district.

Brunner Mine Site, New Zealand @Backyard Travel Family
Brunner Mine Site @Backyard Travel Family

BRUNNER MINE WALK

13 km from Greymouth on State Highway 7 (the road eventually leads to Reefton, Lewis alpine pass and Christchurch).

Brunner Mine walk is a 2 km flat easy walk. The coal manufacturing sites were operational from 1860 until the 1896 disaster. The heritage site has rare original beehive brick coke ovens, original chimneys and mining relics. The archeological site is of tremendous significance to New Zealand’s industrial history and must-go destination.

  • Length: 2 km
  • Grade: Flat easy walk

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Cross both sides of the river to ensure you thoroughly explore the area, allow up to an hour to view displays.

Brunner Mine Site, New Zealand @Jontynz
Brunner Mine Site @Jontynz
Blaketown Lagoon, Greymouth, New Zealand @Phillip Capper
Blaketown Lagoon @Phillip Capper

BLAKETOWN LAGOON

Pre-European Maori knew the area as Erua Moana… Kowhai Walk is a 0.8 km easy boardwalk through wetland remnants. It is a good spot to observe wading birds. Originally the area would have been a rich resource for fishing with its estuary tides. There are views of the beach and Tasman Sea. Blaketown is a suburb of Greymouth.

NOTE: The beginning of the walk crosses unsupervised railway tracks, look both ways and take care.

KING PARK WALK

Want to stretch your legs and get a sense of the town then this is an ideal short walk.  The track can be slippery in wet weather due to the leaf litter. Several views of the town are visible and the walk finishes with a view of the Grey Valley, the river and town. There are seats at the end of the walk. A zigzag uphill track to four lookouts. First lookout after a five minute walk provides a view of the town centre and the Grey River. Ten minutes from the first lookout is another rest area which provides a view of central Greymouth. From this point, the track is not as well formed but is easily negotiated by most walkers. After ten minutes from the previous lookout, a rock outcrop gives an excellent view of Cobden and a further five minutes reaches the last lookout, providing spectacular views of the lower Grey Valley areas.

POINT ELIZABETH WALK

The Point Elizabeth trail begins on the other side of the river from Greymouth at the end of the Dommett Esplanade. This is a steep trail offering sweeping views of the Tasman Sea. The walk is a firm surface and follows the coast through native bush to a clifftop viewing platform. The walk is a known location for whale sightings. The walk begins at Rapahoe Beach, a safe swimming spot in summer.

  • Length: 5.5 km (one way)
  • Grade: Easy / moderate
Point Elizabeth Walk, Greymouth, New Zealand @catcalverley
Point Elizabeth Walk @catcalverley

OMOTOMOTU BUSH WALK

A 25 minutes loop walk within the capabilities of most walkers, through the only substantial forest area close to Greymouth. Halfway through the walk is a five minute deviation to a lookout point with views of regenerating forest.

WEST COAST WILDERNESS CYCLING TRAIL

A multiple day cycling adventure starts / finishes in Greymouth. A journey through the West Coast’s lush rainforest, glacial fed rivers and lakes. Cyclists pass wetlands supporting prolific birdlife. The trail travels through Kumara, Hokitika and to Ross in the south.

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Selfie moment before you start the Greymouth to Hokitika leg of the Coast Wilderness Cycle trail at the start/finish kiosk. The word GREYMOUTH is designed using anamorphic lettering and will appear vertical in your photo. Photograph sourced from Greymouth local government website.

HERITAGE GREYMOUTH – PLACES TO GO, THINGS TO DO

Greymouth, West Coast has a rich heritage legacy. Places to go include a fascinating insight into early twentieth century education values at Jack Mills Model School. Things to do cover worker’s rights and the slightly tatty Runanga Miners Hall. Your journey will circle around Greymouth embracing Blackball where the Labour Party had its origins; born out of the influential coal mining strikes of 1908 and 1931. Travel into the past at Kumara and lunch in an original Theater Royal Hotel watching enthusiastic cyclists on the Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail pass by. Enjoy exploring New Zealand’s version of Disneyland, a replica gold mining town, Shantytown where things to do include a ride on a stagecoach.

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For more information about heritage buildings in Greymouth check out Greymouth & Grey district heritage places of interest – Best Bits and get the walking boots on. You will pass the LEFT BANK GALLERY (worth popping into), cafes and local shops.

Jacks Mills School entrance, New Zealand
Jacks Mills School entrance, New Zealand
Greymouth heritage railway station, West Coast, Greymouth, New Zealand
Greymouth heritage railway station

GREYMOUTH, WEST COAST TOP HERITAGE SIGHTS

  • TranzAlpine train destination, the ornate, beautiful Victorian GREYMOUTH RAILWAY STATION. As well as being a lasting reminder of the importance of the railway opening up the West Coast for economic development the charming railway station is now home to the Greymouth Visitor Centre.
  • GREYMOUTH REGENT THEATRE, similar to Hokitika a heritage theatre has withstood the ravages of time. Regent Theatre has been restored to its full glory with a 1930’s feel. A great place for a rainy day or to catch up, while on holiday the latest cinema releases.

SELFIE LOCATION

Walk past the Greymouth Star newspaper building and watch the newspaper press in action on printing days. The mural on the building side is a great selfie location.

  • JACKS MILL MODEL SCHOOL BUILDING. Undeniably cute. At the end of the road is a tiny replica house built by students in the 1930’s. The property is open to the public although the historic Kotuku Model Bungalow is usually locked and closed. Peer through the windows and make a donation in the box to support efforts to maintain the heritage site.
Jack Mills School student construction, West Coast, New Zealand
Jack Mills School student construction
Runanga Miner’s Hall, New Zealand @Odt
Runanga Miner’s Hall @Odt
  • RUNANGA MINERS HALL. Heritage buffs will not want to miss the Runanga Miners Hall. The hall is a significant site for the history of organised labour movement, unionism. Its striking facade is recognisable for its place in the emergence of the modern Labour Party. The town’s proximity to Greymouth has created a dormitory suburb with local services. Places to visit in Runanga are the tribute to unionism and the struggle of 19th century miner’s to equitable wages, The Runanga Miners Hall is emblematic of industrial history.
  • MOANA RAILWAY STATION, LAKE BRUNNER. A taste of the ornate splendor of the Greymouth Railway Station the Tranzalpine favourite stop is a well known selfie location.

TOP 6 THINGS TO DO WITH FAMILIES IN GREYMOUTH

Greymouth is a great hub for families with plenty of options to swing inland to Lake Brunner, explore the little known largely abandoned gold mining towns or explore nearby Hokitika with its numerous attractions on a day trip(s). Hokitika vies with Greymouth as a place to unpack and unwind.

  1. SHANTY TOWN – FAMILY TOP PICK

Shantytown will be a firm favourite, New Zealand style disneyland complete with stagecoach rides, a vintage train, cafes for ice creams and snacks plus lots of buildings with Victorian costumed hosts. Places of interest include over 30 relocated buildings creating a replica main street providing visitors with a visual recreation of a nineteenth century gold mining town. There is a Chinatown section, a saw milling operation and a small foundry. With cafes and rainforest walks it is easy to spend the day at Shantytown. You can try your hand at gold panning. SHANTY TOWN is  a tourist experience and will be busy during the school holidays.

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Dress up in period costume for a selfie moment.

Shantytown, Greymouth, New Zealand @MustDoNewZealand
Shantytown @MustDoNewZealand
Grey River in Greymouth, West Coast, New Zealand @Wikimedia Commons
Grey River in Greymouth @Wikimedia Commons
  1. TOWN WALKS – FLOODWALL PATH

Kids as well as family members will be memorised by the large pictorial images on information plaques of the power and might of the Grey River in flood. Look at the wharf pilings and read about the shipping disasters of boats trying to navigate the hazardous Greymouth sandbar.

  1. GOLDSBOROUGH, KUMARA AND HERITAGE GOLD MINING SITES

Explore fascinating places for kids to visit with opportunities to pan for gold in the rivers where miners once tried their luck. Find the LONDONDERRY ROCK, a massive granite boulder in Kumera that witnessed the wholesale destruction of the landscape caused by the violent power of sluicing the landscape.

Shamrock Creek gold fossicking area, Goldsborough, West Coast, New Zealand
Shamrock Creek gold fossicking area, Goldsborough
Ross selfie location, West Coast, New Zealand
Ross selfie location
  1. Things to do with kids are exploring one of the West Coast’s most intact gold mining towns, ROSS. Walk Ross’s heritage precinct including the Old Ross Jail and St Patrick’s Catholic Church. Spend time imaging life in the small miners cottage and enjoy stories to be had in the museum / visitors centre. Ross is another location for trying your luck at gold panning at the nearby Jones Flat Creek. Pans and equipment can be hired from the local visitor centre / museum

Greymouth to Ross 63 km

 

INTERESTING FACT

  • New Zealand’s largest gold nugget was unearthed in Ross in 1909; weighing 3.1kg” The nugget was nicknamed the “Honourable Roddy Nugget” after Roderick Mackenzie, Minister for Mines at the time. And the nugget itself was gifted, in 1911 the nugget was given to King George V as a coronation gift and the gold became gold trim on a tea set.
Brunner Mine Site, New Zealand @Jontynz
Brunner Mine Site @Jontynz
  1. BRUNNER MINE SITE

Kids get to find out what it is like to work in an underground mine where shafts were located metres deep below the river bed.

  1. COAL CREEK WATERFALLS – RUNANGA

Many tourism posters have these falls as a backdrop for the West Coast. Coal Creek Waterfall is a postcard waterfall for Aotearoa New Zealand tourism. The waterfall graces tea towels, spoons, coffee table books and is the imagery for what the West Coast looks like.  Coal Creek Track An easy 3.6 km bushwalk sloping down to the Coal Creek Falls. The falls bottom pools are a perfect place to take a dip and cool off during summer. This is a must-go waterfall walk.

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This trip is a perfect combination with a heritage look at Brunner Mine Disaster site.

Runanga, Greymouth, New Zealand @manimondo
Runanga @manimondo

WHICH IS THE BEST PLACE FOR FAMILIES TO STAY ON THE WEST COAST?

HOKITIKA OR GREYMOUTH?

Hokitika's clock tower, West Coast, New Zealand
Hokitika's clock tower
  • We are going to sit on the fence as there is only a 30 km distance between the two towns.
  • Greymouth is less of a tourist destination functioning as the regional hub for the West Coast and, as the larger town has several supermarkets and a more extensive shopping district. The town has a number of tourism operators who are based in Greymouth.
  • Hokitika is attractive with the beach and nearby lakes and rivers. It is well suited for families with cafes offering great menu choices, plenty of town attractions such as the National Kiwi Centre and the driftwood beach. Hokitika is the personality town of the West Coast with a culture based on the hospitality industry.

The best bet is to look for the ideal accommodation in the vicinity of both towns, either in Hokitika or Greymouth and enjoy the attractions and things to do in either direction.

DAY TRIPS FROM GREYMOUTH

Greymouth is an ideal hub for day trips exploring the southern West Coast.

Hokitika Gorge, West Coast, New Zealand. Beautiful nature with blueturquoise color water and wooden swing bridge.
Hokitika Gorge
Speights Ale House Greymouth
Greymouth

TRAVELLING TO GREYMOUTH

From Distance Time
Queenstown 622 km 6 hr 45 min
Christchurch 162 km 3 hr 30 min
Franz Josef 172 km 2 hr 20 min
Hokitika 37 km 30 mins
Fox Glacier 195 km 2 hr 45 min
Punakaiki 47 km 45 min
Reefton 78 km 1 hr
Westport 102 km 1 hr  30 min

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO GET TO GREYMOUTH

The best way to arrive in Greymouth is the Tranzalpine train. You will need a vehicle to get around and about Greymouth.

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TRANZALPINE train enthusiasts there is the option of renting a vehicle in Greymouth which allows you to enjoy the world-class train journey and enjoy setting your own pace while exploring the West Coast.

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO SEE ATTRACTIONS AROUND GREYMOUTH?

The best way to get around the central area of the West Coast, Greymouth is a vehicle. Due to the lack of public transport and relative distances between attractions the most popular transport option is a private vehicle. The Intercity bus departs from Christchurch daily. For visitors without transport there are daily tours to key tourist destinations however you will be limited by the amount of time you can spend at each place.

Truman Track waterfall, West Coast, New Zealand
Truman Track waterfall
Tranzalpine train, Greymouth, New Zealand @greatjourneysofnz
Tranzalpine train @greatjourneysofnz

WHAT IS NEW ZEALAND’S TRANZALPINE TRAIN JOURNEY LIKE?

The tranzalpine train journey, in the South island is one of the world’s great train trips. The TranzAlpine is one of the world’s great train journeys covering 223 kilometres one-way, taking just under 5 hours.

The Tranzalpine train that departs from Christchurch and finishes in Greymouth. Check out the Tranzalpine online resource for reservation details. You’ll pass the rolling farmland of the Canterbury plains climbing steadily through sub-alpine landscapes to the breath-taking Arthurs Pass National Park. It is a journey of a lifetime.

POPULATION GREYMOUTH

  • 13,000

POPULATION WEST COAST

  • 32,000

WEATHER

Greymouth Weather Forecast and Observations

The West Coast is the wettest part of New Zealand.  Simply carry a Blunt umbrella and enjoy the mists and fog that drapes around the hills and mountains evoking a sense of mystery.  It is evocative of the conditions facing nineteenth century miners as they trudged over mountain passes in search of the elusive nugget of gold. The average summer temperature is mid-20’sc. The wettest months are in winter with a minimum temperature between 6c -12c.

Greymouth Clock tower at Mawhera Quay, West Coast, Greymouth, New Zealand
Greymouth Clock tower at Mawhera Quay

BEST TIME TO GO TO GREYMOUTH, SOUTH ISLAND

September – early December

March – May

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Less sandflies

TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION

GREYMOUTH VISITOR CENTRE – LOCATION RAILWAY STATION

Greymouth Visitor Centre is inside the station. They offer a free reservation service for all activities, tours, accommodation and transport. Those services include TranzAlpine Train, Tranz Scenic Trains and coach, Intercity buses, Atomic Shuttles, West Coast Shuttles, Naked Bus, InterIslander and Bluebridge Ferry.

The town has a colonial name honouring Sir George Grey, governor of New Zealand in the nineteenth century.

Greymouth Star building street art, New Zealand
Greymouth Star building street art

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