Touring routes

The West Coast Heritage Tour

If you love to discover gems and tales of old, there's plenty of history and heritage to soak up on the West Coast.

Category
Self-drive
Duration
6 days
Distance
349 mi/562 km
Best time
Anytime

Day One: Nelson to Reefton

2 hours 35 mins, 204 km

Reefton is the northern gateway from Christchurch or Nelson, the Town of Light - first public electricity supply in Southern Hemisphere.

The Reefton Goldrush in the 1860s created much of the character, charm and history you see in the township and surrounding areas today.

The town itself became established about 1870 and with mining came technology and innovation.

Visit Blacks Point Museum and Waiuta - NZ’s richest gold mine ghost town, and a Tohu Whenua site.

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DAY 2: Reefton to Westport

1 hour, 79.5 km

Travel to Westport via the Buller Gorge. Don’t miss Coal Town Museum, explore the Denniston Incline and Plateau’s coal mining ghost towns.

Take some extra time while in Westport and enjoy a day on the Stockton open cast coalmine or in the Awakari Valley backcountry on Johnny’s Journey with Outwest Tours.

Call in on the Northern Buller Museum at Granity, the old coal mining town of Millerton and walk the Charming Creek track along a former coal and milling railway line.

In Karamea visit the Museum, Estuary Walk depicting river and port history and Oparara Basin with spectacular limestone arches and caves.

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Day 3: Westport to Greymouth

1 hour 26 mins, 102 km

Travel the Great Coast Road to Greymouth. Stop in at Mitchells’ Gully Gold Mine, take a wander around the old gold town and port of Charleston.

View the Rūnanga Miners Hall (under restoration), before heading to Greymouth’s Left Bank Art Gallery to view their National Contemporary Pounamu Collection.

Meander along the Flood Wall Walkway, where you can view the Coal River Park, Port Cranes and Breakwaters.

Visit the Brunner Coal Mine and Industrial Site – site of New Zealand’s worst mine disaster, Blackball and the Museum of Working Class history.

Head south to Shantytown Heritage Park.

Visit Kumara, the Premier King Dick Seddon’s Gold Town, see the restored Theatre Royal Hotel and explore round the 1865 Gold Trail through gold rush ghost towns of Goldsborough and Stafford (mine tunnels, walks and historic cemetery).

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Day 4: Greymouth to Hokitika

28 mins, 37.1 km

Hokitika was once a Goldfields Capital and Port. Visit the Museum or take a Guided Town Walk. Meander along the heritage quayside, streets and buildings.

Visit the Westland Industrial Heritage Park or first New Zealand airline memorial. View artisans working gold, pounamu, precious stones, wood, metals and glass.

Discover the pounamu (greenstone) story with Arahura Greenstone Tours.

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Day 5: Hokitika to Glacier Country

1 hour 40 mins, 134 km

Make you way to Franz Josef and Fox Glacier. Visit Rimu / Woodstock Hill Goldfields Lookout and Heritage Site, and pan for gold and walk the Goldfields.

Take a break at Hari Hari’s First Trans-Tasman Flight Memorial, at Whataroa join Alpine Fault Tours, stand between the continental plates and see how the Southern Alps were formed.

Visit the peaceful Okarito goldrush town and port with lagoon and heritage tours, historic wharf shed, Donovan's gold rush era store, coastal pack track and stunning views of the Southern Alps and glacial landscape formations from the trig station. Then on to the Glaciers!

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Day 5: Glacier Country to Haast

1 hour 40 mins, 134 km

The South West of New Zealand is one the great natural areas of the world. Haast is situated in the heart of Te Wāhipounamu, a UNESCO World Heritage Area. There are national parks to the north, south and east. This spectacular 2.6 million hectare area (almost 10% of New Zealand's total land area) encompasses Westland Tai Poutini, Aoraki/Mount Cook, Mount Aspiring and Fiordland national parks. See Te Wāi Pounamu – the greenstone waters, and the spectacular beauty!

Haast entertainments include river safaris, visits to fur seal and penguin colonies, sea fishing, trout fishing, hunting and the drive to Jackson Bay, one of the most remote villages in New Zealand.

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