The ‘Coasters’ as the people of the West Coast are commonly known, are renowned for their independence, hospitality and strong community spirit.
Greymouth, the largest town on the Coast, reflects this character. The town was spawned by the gold rush, nurtured by timber and coal, and shaped by the Grey River and numerous floods.
Coming here is an adventure in itself. The Coast has a ‘Last Frontier’ feel because of its relative isolation and extreme topography. It is a land of spectacular coastlines, dense rainforests, rushing rivers, snow-capped peaks, limestone formations and brooding lakes.
Your exploration can start with ‘The Great Wall Walk’ along the river stopbank to a windswept beach, strewn with coloured pebbles and greenstone chips. At the Jade Gallery in town you can observe the intricate cutting, grinding and polishing of greenstone. The local Museum and Art Gallery are worth a visit and there are excellent restaurants, cafès and shops. The well-preserved railway station is a busy terminal for the renowned TranzAlpine railway excursion.
Walking opportunities abound on the outskirts of town, and many historic gold trails lead to ghost towns further up the Grey Valley. A surprising number of rusting relics from 150 years of gold, timber and coal extraction, are scattered throughout the bush. If you’re lucky you won’t meet ‘The Barber’, a wind that whistles down the Grey Valley with icy tentacles as sharp as a barber’s razor.
Visitors to Greymouth seeking thrills and spills will not be disappointed. There are many local adventures and eco-tours including rafting the Taipo River and Taniwha Cave system. Another highlight is jet boating along the coast to the amazing Punakaiki Pancake Rocks with dolphin and seal watching en route.
A visit to Shantytown, 20 minutes south of Greymouth, brings to life its pioneering past. This reconstruction of an 1880’s gold town has many replica buildings in a colonial setting. A steam train takes you through the bush to a sawmill and mine site, and you can try you hand at gold panning at a working claim.
Greymouth is the perfect base for you to experience the natural beauty of the West Coast, and enjoy the ‘Coasters’ legendary hospitality.