Greymouth Tourist Attractions
Greymouth (named after Governor George Grey) is the main commercial center on the west coast and an important port. Its economy was originally based on gold mining, later on coal and timber, and then also on cattle and dairy farming.The port, situated at the mouth of the Gray River, is constantly exposed to the threat of flooding, either by the river or by the wild Tasman Sea. Flood protection measures were completed in 1991. Rain is frequent and often goes on for a long time, and a bitterly cold wind known as the Barber blows down the Grey valley. These climatic factors have contributed to the steady decline in population since the end of the 19th C.
13km south of Greymouth is the reconstructed gold-mining settlement of Shantytown, which attracts crowds of visitors throughout the year. The 1860s are recalled in this open-air museum of old buildings transferred to the site from other parts of the country and furnished in period style. They include a church, Coronation Hall, a general store, stables, a jail, a hotel, a hospital, a printing office and the workshops of various craftsmen. A steam railroad line of 1897 runs through the dense forest to an old sawmill. There are old gold-miners' claims at which visitors can try their hand at panning for gold, selling any they find to gold dealers.
Address: Rutherglen Road, Paroa, Greymouth, West Coast 7870, New Zealand
Opening hours: 8:30am-5pm
Always closed on: Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in NZD: Family $62.00, Adult $25.00, Senior over 60 $20.00, Child 17 & under $10.00
Woods Creek Track
11km east of Shantytown is the Woods Creek Track (c 1 hour), running through an area that was turned upside down by gold miners in the 1860s.
Kumara, New Zealand
The old gold-miners' settlement of Kumara (pop. 300) lies 25km south of Graymouth on the road that runs through the Otira Gorge to Arthur's Pass. In its heyday it had a population of anything up to 4000. In the nearby Taramakau River there was large-scale gold prospecting as recently as 1982.
Point Elizabeth Walkway
11km north of Graymouth, at Raparahoe, is the start of this attractive trail (c 4 hours each way), which runs along the coast through dense primeval forest with tree ferns and nikau palms. It affords fine views of the coast and the highest peaks of the Southern Alps.
There is a rail link between Greymouth and Christchurch on the east coast over Arthur's Pass. The 5-hour run on the *TraNZAlpine Express, passing through the Otira Tunnel and the gorges in Arthur's Pass National Park, is a great tourist attraction. The west coast line to Hokitika carries only goods.
12km east of Graymouth on Highway 7 is the Brunner coalfield, with four coal mines that were once of great importance - Dobson, Wallsend, Stillwater and Taylorville. The rich deposits of coal on both sides of the Gray River were discovered by Thomas Brunner while surveying the west coast in 1846-8; mining started in 1864. An accident in the Brunner mine in 1896 cost 67 lives.
32km southeast of Graymouth, in a setting of great scenic beauty, is Lake Brunner, the largest lake on the west coast, which is ideal for fishing and boating. It was formed in a basin scooped out by a glacier and dammed by terminal moraine.The lake is known to the Maoris as Moana Kutuku (lake of the white heron). Herons are still occasionally to be seen on the shores of the lake.
Brunner Industrial Site
An old suspension bridge over the Gray River leads to the Brunner Mine, now closed down and scheduled as New Zealand's first protected industrial monument, Brunner Industrial Site. Industrial heritage trails and displays explain the history of coal mining on the west coast.
50km east of Graymouth, on a side road off Highway 7, is Lake Hochstetter. Named after the Austrian geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter, it was enlarged by the construction of a dam in 1876. Good fishing; picnic spots.