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.
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.
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.
Cross both sides of the river to ensure you thoroughly explore the area, allow up to an hour to view displays.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dress up in period costume for a selfie moment.
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.
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.
Greymouth to Ross 63 km
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.
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.
This trip is a perfect combination with a heritage look at Brunner Mine Disaster site.
HOKITIKA OR GREYMOUTH?
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.
TRAVELLING TO GREYMOUTH
|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|
The best way to arrive in Greymouth is the Tranzalpine train. You will need a vehicle to get around and about Greymouth.
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.
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.
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 WEST COAST
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.
BEST TIME TO GO TO GREYMOUTH, SOUTH ISLAND
September – early December
March – May
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.
BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDES
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