The West Coast

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The West Coast of the Southern Alps

Is 600 kilometres in length and has a population of approximately 35,000 people.

It is home to five of New Zealand’s National Parks:Kahurangi, Paparoa, Arthurs Pass,Westland and Mount Aspiring and the South Westland World Heritage area.

The West Coast abounds with not-to-be-missed natural features, from the seal colony at Cape Foulwind north of Greymouth, to the glaciers and calm mirror lakes to the south. In between you’ll find rainforest, lakes, ‘pancake’ rocks, enchanting river valleys with soaring cliffs, rugged coastline and beaches.

Greymouth - West Coast, New Zealand

Forged by the early Maori in search of precious greenstone (pounamu), by the spirit of the 1860’s gold rush and by the development of road and rail links, Greymouth is rich in history.

In January 1848 Thomas Brunner journeyed up the river which he named the Grey River to honour the then Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey. In 1868 the town took the name Greymouth from its situation at the mouth of the Grey River.

Greymouth is the major town on the West Coast with shops ranging from small specialty and tourist shops to larger, national chain stores. Restaurants, cafes and bars provide a hub of entertainment. It is also the terminus for the famous Tranz Alpine rail journey from Christchurch and a busy centre for coaches and shuttles taking visitors on tours to other destinations on the West Coast and further afield.

Points of interest in the town centre include the Left Bank Art Gallery, History House, Monteith’s Brewing Company (offering 3 brewery tours a day), Greenstone (jade) and photographic galleries and the walk along the floodwall that protects the town from the Grey River.

Greymouth is an ideal base for activities on the Coast due to its central location. The Grey District has a number of adventure tourism operators who can provide a range of adventure activities, from easy forest walks to grade 5 white water rafting. You can go underground, overland, through rapids, across glaciers by helicopter, explore caves, rafting, diving, boating, trout and deep sea fishing (including Blue Fin Tuna charters), 4 x 4 off-road motor biking.... it's all here, right on our doorstep.

The West Coast – New Zealand’s last frontier – is a natural adventure playground set in some of the world’s most spectacular scenery.

The coastal waters are well known for Hector Dolphins, seabirds and New Zealand Fur Seals. West Coast rivers and lakes are world famous for the quality of their trout fishing. Rafting, canoeing and kayaking are popular pastimes on the many rivers and lakes in the area.

Greymouth is a rivermouth port, serving the fishing industry. Since the first shipment of coal in 1864, the port has handled nearly 25 million tonnes of cargo, mainly coal and timber exports and general cargo imports. It was hoped that mines in the area reopening would finance an upgrade of the wharf facilities to cope with the additional use, but the coal is now being sent by train to Lyttleton near Christchurch for shipment overseas.

The fishing fleet is based in Erua Moana lagoon, which is the haven for approximately 40 local fishing boats up to 50 visiting boats at the peak of the Tuna season. About 6000 tonnes of fish are landed each year and processed in two Greymouth factories or sent to Westport, Motueka and Hokitika for processing. The larger off-shore vessels also fish for Hoki and Orange Roughy while smaller boats fish inshore for mainly Sole, Flounder, Gurnard and Tarakihi.

The port entrance is between breakwaters and across a shifting bar, where bad weather can create conditions which boat users must respect – many fishermen have lost their lives, and their boats, trying to cross the ‘bar’ in rough conditions.

Wonderful sunsets and great views of the port entrance, coastline and Southern Alps (including Mt Cook on a clear day), can be had from the breakwaters which are accessed through Blaketown or Cobden.

Local Activities


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