Neat Attractions in the West Coast

Grace Hall - Neat Places -
Dec. 19, 2016

Head west via the West Coast Road, and make the Famous Sheffield Pie Shop your first port of call, no matter the time of day.  As the shop’s name suggests it’s famous for its pies, but the filled rolls and cakes are equally good.  It’s perfect fodder to set you up for your road trip.

A drive through the Arthur’s Pass is not complete without a stop for a stroll.  There are plenty of walks throughout the Pass; short and long, easy and more difficult.  We can’t go past the Bealey Spur Walk for its impressive views of the valley below.  Check out the cute mountain huts on your way up to the start of the track.

Make Hokitia your first port of call on the Coast.  Just 12km from the centre of Hokitika you’ll find Hurunui Jacks, the perfect spot for glamping.  Expect tepee style accommodation in bush surrounds, an outdoor bath and all the mod-cons of everyday living – this isn’t ordinary camping.  Hurunui Jacks is just metres from the West Coast Wilderness Cycle trail, so don’t forget your bike.

While in Hokitika be sure to check out the many Jade, New Zealand art and glass blowing galleries.  A visit to the beach is essential, and not complete without takeaway fish and chips from the very excellent Dulcie’s Takeaways.  Don’t go past a fish burger.  Once 3.00pm strikes, make your way to the West Coast Wine Company’s Wine Bar for a tipple.  Here you can buy wine by the bottle and BYO your own food, making it the perfect spot for a leisurely afternoon.  For dinner, check out Fat Pipi’s Pizza.  Their whitebait pizza is famous, and in summer time there’s great outdoor seating right by the beach.

The next day, head North towards Greymouth.  For the best coffee in town and a light breakfast check out DP1 Espresso.  For those who like beer, be sure to pay a visit to the Monteith’s Brewery.  The Brewery runs daily tours and, naturally, houses a bar where the beer is always pouring.

Then make your way to the small settlement of Barrytown for a day spent making your own wooden handled knife.  At Barrytown Knife Making you’ll spend the day (9.30am – 4.00pm) learning how to make your own original knife, and may even have the chance to dabble in axe throwing and target practice.  Lunch is included (usually toasted sammies!) and at the end of the day there’ll be a few drinks.   Bookings are essential.

There are plenty of places to spend the night in and near to Barrytown.  If you have the time, check out the spectacular Punakaiki Pancake Rocks.

The next day, for a true experience of West Coast mining life head to the historic village, and now ghost town, of Waiuta.  The once bustling and prosperous mining town was officially closed in 1951, and due to the efforts of a committed bunch of locals and historians the former town site has been preserved and well maintained.  Wander round and see the sites of old houses and the old school, check out the old buildings that do remain, the old swimming pool and bowling green, and the now dysfunctional mine shaft.  Be sure to spot the many mine tunnels as you wander!

Make your way to Blackball for a slice of rural New Zealand life.  Be sure to check out the Blackball Salami Co’s shop for excellent sausages, bacon, salami and other small goods.  For the evening, check into Formerly The Blackball Hilton an old, eccentric pub hotel that, rumour has it, is haunted.  Expect old school Kiwi hospitality, plenty of cheap drink, hearty pub meals, a late night drinking with the locals and a continental breakfast on departure.

Head back to Christchurch via the Lewis Pass.  Make a stop in Reefton to check out the Reefton Second Hand Mart for excellent second hand shopping at a very reasonable price and Second Hand Books on Main Street where you’ll find many a well thumbed tome.  The Broadway Tearooms and Bakery have good cabinet food and particularly good lolly cake, and at Reef Cottage Café you’ll find coffee made with Café L’affare beans.

For a Japanese bathing experience in natural surrounds stop at Mariua Springs.  Here you’ll find amazing natural hot springs, a Japanese style bath house and private bathing houses.  It’s an excellent way to break up the trip.

Finish with lunch at one of Waipara’s excellent winery restaurants, Pegasus Bay or Black Estate, or for something cheaper try Little Vintage Espresso in Amberley.

If you can fit in an extra night away, the Hidden Valley Lodge near Lake Brunner is an excellent place to spend the night, and worth the extra time spent on the road.  The Lodge is a converted old church nestled in a secluded bush setting, with spectacular views of the nearby Lake Poerua and its own hot tub!