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Short Walks

Top 10 hidden walks West Coast, Punakaiki, Greymouth and Lake Brunner

  • 4 minutes

Truman Track waterfall, West Coast

Unpack, unwind, unforgettable places to go

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. Top sights include the Reefton town walk finding gin factories, heritage buildings and quirky second hand shops and the abandoned Waiuta township. These walks are part of a series of top walks on the West Coast, check out West Coast guide, things to do for holiday inspiration.


Abandoned places buffs – the West Coast delivers with Waiuta ghost town and a schoolhouse where the door is still open.

Aoraki Mount Cook beautiful sunset photo, New Zealand
Aoraki Mount Cook


  • Memorial acknowledging the death of over 300 individuals who lost their lives in mining disasters.
  • Spectuaclar views of Aoraki Mount Cook
  • Historic relics, cranes and wharf equipment with signage explaining the former use
  • Watching the forces of nature, Grey River and harbour entrance battle the wall for supremacy.

The massively powerful flow of the Grey River on one side and the town on the other is slightly unnerving as you stroll on the wide well maintained pathway on top of the floodwall protection for the town. The floodwall walk finishes at the Coal River Heritage Park with its sculptures celebrating the importance of coal and mining in the area, three restored Q coal wagons and the heritage passenger wharf.


A number of exits / entrances on Mawhera Quary.



  • A short walk packed with variety from tunnels, moss filled gullies and small creeks
  • Chance to go gold fossicking
  • Swim and picnic in quiet backwater of the West Coast

Imagine a place to go where ferns flourish in a narrow damp hand cut tunnel. There is visible evidence of the power of sluicing for gold with large mounds of boulders piled high in regenerating forest. The tailings and waterraces are gently being retaken by bush and the world is silent except for the sound of birdsong. Goldsborough is a hidden gem. Fascinating for all age groups and with enough mossy fantasy to enthrall kids.


Permitted gold fossicking area – yeah.

Boardwalk past tailings, gold minining sluiced rock remains, West Coast, Goldsborough, New Zealand
Boardwalk past tailings, gold minining sluiced rock remains, Goldsborough


  • Heritage gold mining trail complete with tunnels and tailings
  • Beautiful timber suspension bridge
  • Chance to go gold fossicking

All the ingredients for a great family and friends walk. There is a suspension bridge to cross, hand cut tunnels to transverse and a landscape recovering from the gold mining 19th century extractive practices of stripping bare landscape of all vegetation with massively powerful water jets. Kids love exploring the tunnels, remember to bring a torch and sturdy footwear. North of Greymouth, Nelson Creek, has a great community run campground complete with a playground and reserve. The reserve has picnic tables and toilets. The short walks start from the campground.


The suspension bridge crossing Nelson Creek is a historic bridge. It was originally built in 1872 and has been rebuilt a couple of times, most recently by the New Zealand Forest Service in 1982 using the original plans.

Coal Creek water flows, West Coast, New Zealand
Coal Creek water flows


  • Drop dead goreous waterfalls
  • Attractive forest walk
  • Swimming hole at bottom of the waterfalls

Not hidden, the much photographed waterfalls grace many instagram feed and tourism posters. However Coal Creek is the place to go for outdoor enthusiasts. The picturesque walk initially is not exciting with pine forest and farmland quickly turns into a stunning walkthrough coastal forest with the sound of the river, birdsong and rustle of leaves. The track is well maintained with a number of steps at the end of the walk. You return on the same track.

Waterfall is a wide 7 metre single drop.

NOTE: at the end of summer waterflow can be signficently diminished.

There are no toilets on either at the start of the walk or along the trail.


A perfect spot to catch your breathe is at the end of the walk. Sit on the wooden bench and admire the waterfall.

  • Length: 3.6 km (loop track)


Coal Creek Track – West Coast

Coal Creek Falls end of summer, West Coast, New Zealand
Coal Creek Falls end of summer
Punakaiki rocks, New Zealand
Punakaiki rocks

Unmissable yet this walk is not ‘hidden.’ – TOP ATTRACTION


  • 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.

Read more about Punakaiki Marine Reserve. The walk is deservedly an unforgettable walk.



  • Dense lowland forest
  • Extraordinary beach with a waterfall splashing directly onto sandy beach
  • Compelling views of ocean tidal action

Short walk with amazing contrast packed into this 15 minute journey. Your walk starts inauspiciously from the car park, crosses the Great Coast Highway (SH 6) and almost immediately plunges into dense lowland forest of rata trees. The majestic nikau palms create an amazing tropical feel to the walk. You are faced with a series of steep stairs to the beach with a viewing platform halfway down. Once on the viewing platform check the Truman beach tide as high tide effectively stops the walk in its tracks.

Truman Track waterfall, West Coast, New Zealand
Truman Track waterfall

The surging tide and undercurrents are dangerous and are to be avoided. Low tide means access to a short sandy beach, towering cliffs with a waterfall pouring down the cliff face directly onto the sandy beach. The steeply sloping beach is compelling with the intensity of the low tide surges indicating the power of the sea to reclaim the space at high tide.


Take care under the crumbling cliff face for falling rock.


Approximately 1.5 km from Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

Truman Track – Paparoa National Park

Lake Brunner panorama. New Zealand
Lake Brunner


  • Inky depths of the lake create a mirror reflecting the surrounding mountains and trees
  • Photogenic rustic boardwalks
  • Landscape changes from lowland forest, farmland, wetlands
  • Bird life

Lake Brunner is breathtaking with several glorious walks offering views of the lake, lakeside ambles, past the Moana railway station (Tranzalpine route), a small intriguing dam site and wetlands. Wander on flat easy well maintained tracks through virgin podocarp forest to viewing points. Be amazed as you find towering tree ferns with the lake peeking through the filtered light.


Check out Lake Brunner walks brochure or Lake Brunner (Moana) (south) walks



  • Peaceful forest walk
  • Stunning waterfall
  • Must-see waterfall

Stunning 30 metre cascading waterfall is the reward for a forest walk. The walk is largely uphill to the falls (approximately 30 minutes). The joy of sitting on sun warmed very large water-smoothed granite boulders watching the constant spray from the waterfalls creates a zen moment. The waterfall is exquisite.


Check out Lake Brunner walks brochure or Lake Brunner (Moana) (south) walks

Carew falls at summer sunny day, West Coast, New Zealand
Carew falls at summer sunny day


It is likely you will not have wifi access on this remote walk, download brochure beforehand


Old pipes seen along the track are from a small hydro scheme that once provided power for the Mitchells Hotel (now Lake Brunner Lodge).

Abandoned gold mine Waiuta, West Coast, NZ
Blackwater goldmine in Waiuta


Extraordinary, just when you think you’ve explored enough goldl mining sites, Waiuta delivers an entire settlement that is eerily similar to abandoned towns used on movie sets. Crumbling buildings, rusting machinery and factory foundations and plenty of information plaques.  On the way is Blackwater with its former schoolhouse. A must-do place to go for its atmosphere, the striking landscape and the sense of isolation.

Waiuta is part of the Best Bits kiwi town series, check out What’s so great about Waiuta… read more about The richest gold field in New Zealand was an almost vertical quartz reef. The mine depths were almost 900 metres (275 below sea level). Gold values ensured the mine was very profitable. On 9 July, 1951 the Blackwater shaft collapsed with flooding, pouring into the narrow shaft. The mine was rapidly abandoned as Consolidated Goldfields (NZ) Ltd decided it was uneconomic to repair the damage. The single source of income evaporated and the town’s inhabitants left.


Greymouth – Waiuta – Reefton

The historic Courthouse of Reefton, West Coast, New Zealand
The historic Courthouse of Reefton


  • Wild West kiwi styled town
  • Over 24 historic buildings with the elaborate Victorian wooden facades
  • Second-hand shops, galleries and great cafes
  • Try your hand at gold panning at the Bearded Miners
  • Top sight is Reefton School of Mines, typical 19th century workers cottage

Bearded Mining Company at the Miners Hut. The replica hut depicting 1860s style housing is made of native cedar slabs and set amongst native plantings right in the heart of town on Broadway. Very conveniently placed to pop into the cafes and shops lining the main street.

  • Duration: Town walk (excluding stops) 30 – 45 minutesThese include shops


Check out Reefton Gin Distillary, housed in an original building. The distillary product names are reminiscent of gold mining. There are fun, quirky and memorable names for botanical gins such as Little Biddy. Little Biddy was a fascinating character whose gold mining career centered around Lyell Creek. Ms Biddy is buried in the Reefton cemetery. Also in the mix are fruit liqueurs, Wild Rain vodka and Moonlight Creek whisky.


Make a day of walks and gold mining town exploration with Greymouth to Reefton trip

Getting there

78 km

Brunner Mine Site, Blackball (alternative route) Reefton.



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