Green, gold, black and brown! The true colours of Greymouth and the Grey District are all about the rich natural resources that first drew adventurers to the West Coast. They came seeking pounamu, gold, coal and timber. Turns out it was thirsty work that also gave rise to some crafty brews.
Sunset over the memorial Clock Tower on Mawhera Quay, on the Greymouth waterfront.
Greymouth and the surrounding Grey District are packed with rugged natural beauty, historical sites, tales of old, adventure activities and attractions.
Greymouth — originally the site of the Māori settlement of Mawhera, now the region’s largest town — is an iconic coastal port at the mouth of the Grey River.
Māori used the Grey River for transport, and the earliest arrivals came in search of pounamu (greenstone), then gold, later coal and timber. Greymouth is a busy fishing port, and the arrival point for the TranzAlpine scenic train from Christchurch.
Greymouth — the West Coast’s largest town — is the arrival / departure point of the TranzAlpine scenic rail journey.
Mawhera Quay — on the edge of the Grey River — is a good place to start exploring Greymouth. The iconic Greymouth Clock Tower sits near a memorial to local coal miners lost in mining accidents. It’s also the start of the West Coast Wilderness Trail cycle journey.
Around the town there are art galleries with pounamu (New Zealand jade), contemporary New Zealand art and fine art photography. The Greymouth Sunday Market has local jewellery, woodwork, and other artisanal goodies.
Learn about local history at the small History House Pop-Up Museum which has exhibits telling stories of the Grey District and its people. And, for a real taste of local, visit the legendary Monteith's brewery or another hospitable brew bar in town.
The hotel now known as Formerly The Blackball Hilton.
Take your pick from scenic walking and cycling trails, off-road adrenaline adventures, and mining history.
Tracks and trails
The Grey District is home to many beautiful walks and mountain biking tracks.
One of New Zealand’s great rides, the multi-day West Coast Wilderness Trail starts right in Greymouth, follows the coast down to the Taramakau River, then inland to Kumara, via Lake Kaniere to Hokitika, finishing at the historic gold town of Ross.
There are multiple access points en route for great short (or longer) rides and walks on well-formed tracks. The Greymouth to Kumara leg is rated Grade 2 (suitable for most abilities) and takes around 2-4 hours to cover.
Go completely off-road on a thrilling quad bike or buggy tour. Choose between self-drive navigating through waterfalls, forests, and mud tracks, or jump in an ex-military Hagglund for some serious riding through assault courses and steep mud banks.
The West Coast’s pioneering history comes to life at Shantytown Heritage Park – an immersive history lesson in a replica gold rush town. There are restored 1860s shops, homes, a school, a steam train to ride plus a sluice line where visitors can roll up their sleeves for a fun gold-panning session.
The Brunner Mine Walk is a peaceful but sobering experience: an easy, 2 km loop amongst the relics of the West Coast’s worst mining disaster where 65 miners died in an explosion in 1896. Cross the suspension bridge to find the remains of old brick ovens, mine entrances and interpretive displays.
The small town of Blackball, at the foot of the Paparoa Ranges, is proud to be the birthplace of the New Zealand Labour Party. Back in 1908 miners went on strike for three months to win a 30-minute lunch break and won. It’s also home of the quirky ‘Formerly the Blackball Hilton Hotel’, named after an infamous dispute with a certain international hotel chain.