GREYMOUTH: THE HEART OF THE WEST COAST
Greymouth is the largest town on the West Coast and has the turnaround of the Tranz Alpine train journey, recognised as one of the top train trips in the world and one form of public transport that you'll actually wish took a little bit longer. Greymouth and the surrounding Grey Valley offer adventure activities, heritage attractions and guided nature tours. Cycle the easy West Coast Wilderness Trail or visit Shantytown, a replica of a 1880's gold town. Get muddy on a quad bike tour, go caving or whitewater rafting, head up the Croesus Track for a very scenic full day hike and then end your adventure with a good old local brew of Monteith's beer.
The Greymouth and Grey Valley area takes in Blackball, Nelson Creek, Stillwater and Greymouth.
Take a peek at Shantytown Heritage Park
Greymouth is the largest town on the West Coast with a population of around 10,000 and is the final stop for the famous TranzAlpine train from Christchurch. Named one of the top six train journeys in the world it is a spectacular journey through the Southern Alps of the South Island. There are numerous shops and galleries, essential services, transport services, many dining options and a wide range of accommodation in Greymouth. The Greymouth i-SITE is a good place to find more information. See where to locate your nearest i-SITE in West Coast.
The first settlements at the Grey River mouth were constructed by Maori and today much of the town’s central business district remains Maori land. European settlement followed the discovery of coal and gold and in 1868 the town took its name from its location at the mouth of the Grey River.
The river was responsible for regularly flooding central Greymouth until a flood wall (locally known as ‘the great wall of Greymouth’) was built to protect it.
There are several places around town to learn about the history of Greymouth including the History House Greymouth which has some great photography and treasures for viewing. Visit the Mawhera Village Site, check out the Greymouth Evening Star Mural or climb to the Cobden Gun Emplacement relic site for great views of the surrounds.
Several nearby walks in Greymouth also highlight Greymouth history. One of the favourite with kids is the Woods Creek Walk with its seemingly endless opportunities to explore tunnels. Bring your torch. There is also the Town Heritage Walk which links significant buildings and other historic sites.
South of Greymouth at Paroa, step back in time at the iconic Shantytown Heritage Park, a replica of an 1880’s gold town in full working order. There are over 30 buildings, a working steam train, a holographic theatre and much more. This is an all weather activity suitable for the whole family and they guarantee you will find gold if you try your hand at gold panning!
Greymouth ActivitiesOr you can wander through the the woods at your own pace. The coastal Point Elizabeth Walkway which offers remarkable views. Find all the great walking & hiking tracks that traverse the West Coast.
The floodwall is a major feature of Greymouth's central business district and you will find a monument to the over 400 men who have died in mining disasters on the West Coast. Take a walk along the floodwall towards the river mouth to get to a popular sport fishing area for blue fin tuna and for good bird & dolphin watching. It is also a very popular spot for whitebaiting during the season.
The floodwall also marks the start or end point of the West Coast Wilderness Trail. The four-day cycle track traverses tracks carved by pioneering gold miners. The section around Greymouth is already in use.
To sample true West Coast beer visit the newly refurbished Monteiths Brewery. They run a great tour on the West Coast’s brewing history and you get to sample a few true West Coast brews - some before they even go to market.
For those who want some outdoor adventure there are numerous mountain biking tracks like Napolean Hill and Kumara Mud Plug. You can see other great West Coast trails on our Mountain Biking page. You can also get down and dirty by having a go on a quad bike tour.
And it doesn't stop there- the Greymouth region has awesome opportunities for caving, rivertubing, whitewater rafting- some of the best adventure activities in the West Coast!
There are some great events in Greymouth. In March, there is the annual Art in the Park event for a fantastic family day out. In October the streets gear up for the annual Classic Hits Greymouth Street Race where bikes race through the central business district and fly past the local Police Station at over 100plus kms an hour!
For a good half day trip from Greymouth head to the iconic West Coast town of Blackball. This small town was the birth place of the New Zealand Labour party. Back in 1908 miners went on strike for three months to win a 30-minute lunch break. They won!
Nowdays it is more famous for The Blackball Salami Company, where they serve up "West Coast perfection". Another good stop is Formerly the Blackball Hilton Hotel, named after an infamous dispute with a certain international hotel chain. Apparently the ladies loos never fail to raise a smile.
The Croesus Track follows an historic miners pack track and is open to trampers and mountain bikers. You can either do the 45 minute walk to Garden Gully past an old miners hut or an 8 hour return walk to Croesus Knob. For the more adventurous, make this a two-day walk and stay overnight in a Department of Conservation hut.
The Moonlight Track is a tough mountain bike ride along an historic miner's path.
There are several historical places of interest in Blackball to visit here including an old mine site and the Blackball-Roa Railway Line.
North of Greymouth, Nelson Creek, has a great community run campground complete with a playground, jump off point into a deep swimming hole and historic walks through a landscape of tunnels and tailraces created by the gold miners. Children love exploring the tunnels – just don’t forget to take a torch.
Stillwater township is a small town with a sad reminder of the area’s tragic history. A total of 67 men were entombed in the Brunner Coalmine collapse in 1896 and you can still see the Brunner Mine Remains just 2km out of Stillwater heading towards Greymouth.
Travel Distances and Times
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More Information on the Greymouth region
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