Tourism West Coast - Lake Brunner (47).jpg

Lake Brunner and Greymouth

Natural highs. Take a break, dip your toes, stretch your legs on a West Coast weekend.
3 days, 2 nights

Arrive in style on a world-famous train journey, take time out beside pristine Lake Brunner and dip your toe into the West Coast wilderness on this short break in a district much more colourful than its name suggests.

212 km, 2 hours 55 min

DAY 1: Christchurch to Moana/Lake Brunner

It’s hard to keep your eyes on the road for the drive through the spectacular Arthur’s Pass National Park, so make frequent stops to take in the clear braided rivers, steep gorges and snow-capped peaks. Alternatively, don’t miss a thing from a comfy seat on one of the world’s most scenic train journeys, the TranzAlpine. If you do catch the train, there’s a rental car depot in Greymouth.

Tranquil Lake Brunner is a well-loved summer spot for Kiwis in the know. Its plentiful waters offer year-round, world-class trout fishing (so plentiful, the trout are said to die of old age here). If you’re not after the “big one”, kayak, swim or relax on sandy beaches beside pristine rainforest. Or explore one of the many scenic lakeside trails or hilly day hikes, including the short but photogenic Carew Falls Track (locals say stand in the right place, and the mist acts like a refreshing facial).

BYOB (bring-your-own-bike) and ride one of the many surrounding mountain biking and cycling trails. Roadies will enjoy the 130-km lakeside circuit that hosts the annual Around Brunner Cycle Ride, which starts and finishes in Moana.

Lake Brunner-4758
Lake Brunner
Cycle trail.

Dig into some local history with a stroll around Brunner Mine Site, a relic from the 1860s when it was home to coal, coke and firebrick production. Today there’s a replica suspension bridge, brick factory and tunnel remains.

On a still day, the towering Southern Alps are perfectly reflected on the surface of Lake Brunner. On a clear night, it’s bright stars and the Milky Way – a photographer’s dream.

Other adventures after dark include exploring magical glow-worm grottoes, of which there are many nearby. The short, easy-access Velenski Track shines with the glow of thousands of tiny lights after nightfall.

Where to stay: Hotel Lake Brunner or Lake Brunner Motor Camp.

Lake Brunner

Moana is a town that sits on the edge of Lake Brunner near Greymouth, West Coast.

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Hotel Lake Brunner

Hotel Lake Brunner can be found nestled within the Southern Alps where lies one of New Zealand’s great wilderness lakes, formed during the last ice age. Situated on the shores of Lake Brunner, Hotel Lake Brunner offers you a warm West Coast welcome.

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Lake Brunner Motor Camp

Locally owned and operated classic kiwi camping ground in the heart of Moana with Lake and mountain views. Powered sites, non powered, Cabins, tent sites. walking tracks, fishing , watersports, barista made coffee, clean facilities, pet friendly.

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76 km, 1 hour

DAY 2: Moana/Lake Brunner to Punakaiki

Spend the morning exploring, or get on the road (or board the train) for the short journey to the ‘big smoke’ of Greymouth, the largest town situated at the heart of the West Coast.

Before it was known for coal, pioneers came looking for gold in these parts. Find out more at nearby replica gold-rush village Shantytown, where you can even pan for a nugget (or flake) of the sparkling stuff yourself.

If you’re feeling adventurous, jump on a quad bike and get muddy on a mission into the West Coast rainforest with On Yer Bike Adventures (based in Greymouth).

En route to Punakaiki, you’ll find Coal Creek Falls, an easy 3.6-km walk through West Coast rainforest. Don’t be put off by wet weather, the more water, the better for viewing the falls. If you do come on a hot day, bring your swimming gear – the pool below is a great place to cool off.

Stretch your legs on the beach at Barrytown (look out for pounamu pieces), or get transported back in time on a ride in a horse-drawn wagon to learn about the Coast Road’s mining and pioneer heritage.

Pancake Rocks and Blowholes - 0920
Pancake rocks and blowholes
Shantytown Heritage Park
Shantytown Heritage Park

Arrive at show-stopping Punakaiki, where the pounding Tasman Sea rushes through narrow shafts and blowholes in the pancaked rocks, creating an incredible natural spectacle, best experienced on the easy walk around the limestone formations.

End an action-packed day with a sunset meal at peaceful Ocean View Retreat, then either stay the night or head back to Greymouth.

Where to stay: Ocean View Retreat, Havenz Punakaiki​, Breakers Boutique (Coast Road), Coleraine Suites & Apartments (Greymouth), The Ashley Hotel (Greymouth)

Grey District

Shantytown Heritage Park

Shantytown provides a real sense of what it was like to live in New Zealand by allowing visitors to participate in and observe our country as it was.

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Grey District

On Yer Bike! Offroad Adventures Ltd

Fantastic off-road adventures through native forest and beautiful scenery! Quad bikes, one-, two- and four-seater off-road buggies and Hagglund. Experience nature and adventures, protective clothing and boots provided, fully guided.

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Punakaiki Walks

A selection of scenic walks in the Punakaiki area of the West Coast of New Zealand.

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290km, 3 hours, 45 mins

DAY 3: Punakaiki to Christchurch

Stretch your legs before the journey home with a morning walk. Punakaiki is situated at the end of the newest Great Walk, the multi-day Paparoa Track – but you’ll find plenty of short walks here too.

The Pororari River Track takes you through a limestone gorge cloaked in subtropical rainforest, or walk the 30-min Truman Track to a stunning beach. Waterside, take a break from the West Coast waves and go for a peaceful kayak or stand-up paddle on the still, clear waters of Punakaiki lagoon or the Pororari River.

Head south and stop for lunch in Greymouth: sit in at styley Sevenpenny or grab a packed lunch from family-owned Blanchfield’s Bakery. There are also tours, tastings and CFC (Coast-fried-chicken) at New Zealand’s original craft beer brewery, Monteith's.

Stroll along Greymouth’s floodwall, which not only protects the town from the Grey River but also gives visitors an insight into the region’s past. There are coal, gold and trains hidden here - look out for the interpretation panels as you go.

Stop in at the Left Bank Art Gallery to not only admire the contemporary New Zealand arts, photography and crafts – but also the historic building they are housed in. Pick up a souvenir in the gallery shop, which features a selection of local artworks, ceramics, jewellery and pounamu.

Keep walking and you’ll reach the start of the West Coast Wilderness Trail and long stretches of wild West Coast beaches, for your final glimpse of the Tasman Sea before heading home.

Paparoa Track
Paparoa Track

West Coast Wilderness Trail

The West Coast Wilderness Trail showcases some of the most outstanding scenery on the South Island’s West Coast with a diversity of landscapes second to none. Grab your bike and explore this Grade 2 Easy trail.

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Grey District


Cafe and restaurant located in central Greymouth.

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Grey District

Left Bank Art Gallery

The gallery is housed in the former Bank of New Zealand. The main gallery and vault spaces display regular exhibits of contemporary New Zealand paintings, prints, photography, sculpture and crafts, with an emphasis on local content.

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West Coast Wilderness Trail.
West Coast Wilderness Trail

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