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Great Coast Road, West Coast road trip Westport to Greymouth

HIghway robbery, desperate mining strikes for better working conditions and abandoned mines will be part of the journey’s story. You will look for towns that have melted into the landscape with only an abandoned cemetery as evidence of their existence. This is combined with dramatic scenery, extraordinary folded pancake rocks, soaring cliffs wrapped in native bush and the sea ever presence on one side. There is something for everyone on this road trip.

1 day or several days
1 night or several nights

Trip Overview

Follow the trail of coal and gold on SH6 where to go and what to see

Highlights

  • Cape Foulwind, seals and a surfing beach
  • Addisons Flat abandoned cemetery
  • Mitchells Gully Gold Mine
  • Charleston & Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
  • Strongman Memorial
  • Runanga Miners Hall
Start Westport
Finish Greymouth

HOW TO USE THIS ROAD TRIP

This trip is part of the Great West Coast Road (West Coast, South Island) check the following sections for details. You can travel this section independently or part of a larger trip. The larger trip is from the top of the South Island, Nelson to the bottom of the South Island, Invercargill.

For details about the kiwi towns the route passes or major settlements, linger, stay, spend as much time as you want.

Start Westport
Finish Greymouth

Route map

Cape Foulwind

Cape Foulwind seal colony, Westport, New Zealand
Cape Foulwind seal colony, Westport, New Zealand

Take your first detour to Cape Foulwind. It’s a mere 15-minute drive from the centre of Westport. The walk up to the lookout point is easy. Park at the Tauranga Bay carpark to access the walkway. The walk is wheelchair accessible with spectacular views of the coast and seal colony. At first the seals are indistinguishable from the rocks. Wait a while, let your eyes adjust to the shades of the rocks and the seals will pop into your line of sight. Look to the waterline to observe seals as they emerge from the sea onto the rocks. The name was given by Captain Cook with the winds, ocean currents creating challenging sea conditions.

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Addisons Flat

Addison's Flat Cemetery in Westport, West Coast, New Zealand @Find A Grave
Addison's Flat Cemetery @Find A Grave

A ghost town now marked by its cemetery. The overgrown field complete with wonky signage belies a tumultuous history of Addisons Flat.

The battle of Addisons Flat, 1868 was the scene of riots protestant and catholic Irish. Irish leaders had been previously arrested on charges of riot and seditious libel. Now there is little evidence of the town named after Darkie Addison, American former slave and discover of gold in the area. Imagine over 5,000 people living in the town, now an abandoned cemetery is all that is left.

The poster says it all about the passion of the various viewpoints.

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Charleston

Metro Cave, New Zealand @christina_karney
Metro Cave @christina_karney

Charleston had 37 hotels, was the location for the first concrete building in New Zealand, had a regular shipping line to Sydney and Hobart and the first branch of Hannahs Shoes was located in Charleston. The often quoted story of the Post Office Bank Manager in Wellington who was thrilled, in 1868 to receive a promotion to the Charleston bank emphasises the importance of the town. Today the bank has gone and largely so has the town. The town is now an adventure tourism destination with Metro Cave / Te Ananui Cave, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and the Paparoa National Park offering plenty of opportunities to get out and around.

For what to do in Charleston check Guide to Charleston and Paparoa National Park for holiday ideas.

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Runanga

Runanga Miner’s Hall, New Zealand @Odt
Runanga Miner’s Hall @Odt

Runanga Miners Hall – an icon of the union movement – Great photo moment of original union slogans.

Runanga is a town famous as one of the birthplaces of the modern Labour political party. Names such as Bob Semple, Paddy Webb and James O’Brien frequented the Runanga Miners Hall. The Hall was built to house a co-operative store during the hardship of the bitter 1908 miners’ strike for better working conditions and wages.

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Coal Creek waterfall walk (Runanga)

Coal Creek Falls at Runanga, Greymouth, New Zealand @Waynelorimer
Coal Creek Falls at Runanga @Waynelorimer

Magnificent walk through regenerating forest to the poster waterfall of the West Coast. It is an easy 1 hour walk to one of New Zealand’s favourite instagram spots for waterfall fans. There are no toilets at the beginning of the walk.

NOTE

The walk begins with a track through a relatively uninteresting pine forest which quickly devolves into regenerating picturesque forest. At times there are regular stepping stones over creek beds to navigate.

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Punakaiki Marine Reserve, Pancake Rocks

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, New Zealand @Auckland i-SITE
Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes @Auckland i-SITE
  • Walk through sub-tropical lowland forest to witness an extraordinary landscape of natural sculptured, layered rocks.
  • Explore the wild meets west ocean beaches
  • Relax in the cafe and watch the world go by
  • A must stop destination. A pocket sized reserve packing a very big punch in an extraordinary marine landscape as well as on the edge of Paparoa National Park.

For holiday inspiration and what to see at Pancake rocks check

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Walk – nzjane for further details.

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Paparoa National Park

Paparoa National Park, New Zealand @mobilemarcus
Paparoa National Park @mobilemarcus
  • Participating in one of New Zealand’s designated Great Walks
  • Kayaking the Pororari River
  • Paddle boarding the Pororari River
  • Horse riding on the beach
  • Extraordinary landscapes of towering limestone cliffs, nikau palms and tree ferns
  • Active adventures caving and black water rafting
  • Petrel bird watching

For holiday ideas exploring the National Park check Paparoa National Park trip guide, activities, what to see: NZ Jane and pack the walking boots.

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Strongman Mine Memorial

Strongman Mine Memorial, New Zealand @Yvon Maurice
Strongman Mine Memorial @Yvon Maurice

Another sober moment acknowledging the loss of life at the Strongman Mine. The mine disaster resulted in the death of 19 men. The explosive fireball started in the largest underground coal mine. The Strongman Mine was located in Runanga, Ninety Mile Valley, 11 km from Greymouth. A higher death toll was averted due to damp walls and running water slowing down the fireball and eventually putting the fire out. There were 240 men working in the mine when the disaster occured.

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Greymouth

Speights Ale House Greymouth

You have arrived in Greymouth

For more journeys on SH6 check Greymouth to Hokitika.

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