Looking for the best things to do in Greymouth? You’ve come to the right place.

Greymouth has never really been known as a big tourist destination – a town built on a history of hard-working industries like gold mining, coal and timber. As the largest town on the wild West Coast, however, Greymouth has grown with some fantastic natural and activity attractions. We thought we’d put together all our favourites in a list of the best things to do in Greymouth, potentially your next getaway destination!

1. Brunner Mine Site Walk

 

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We start the list with a step back in time with the Brunner Mine Site Walk. As mentioned in the introduction, Greymouth had a large mining industry for many years and Brunner Mine was one of the biggest producers of coal for 40 years from the 1860s. Unfortunately, it is also the site of the country’s worst workplace disaster when an explosion killed 65 workers in 1896.

125 years later, it exists as a historical site and moving memorial that can be seen and explored. The brick coke ovens, the coal wagon bridge and the Grey River that flows underneath are just some of the highlights of this important site.

Also in the area is Lake Brunner and the small town of Moana that sits on its shores. Lake Brunner is the largest lake on the West Coast and is a mecca all year round for trout fishing. It’s a great place for a wide range of water activities including jet boating, yachting, swimming, kayaking and paddleboarding.

2. Greymouth Breakwater

Greymouth is also one of the most dangerous places in NZ for boats to come into is due to the strength of the current and the large sandbar that exists there. The Greymouth Breakwater, built to protect the harbour, is another fascinating place to visit to see this tremendous display of nature and learn about the history of the harbour, the marine industry, its many shipwrecks etc.

The viewing platform is high above the sea giving you a great vantage point and the sight at sunset is said to be mesmerising.

Fun Fact: On a clear day, Aoraki Mount Cook can be seen from Greymouth.

3. History House Museum

As you’ve already seen, Greymouth is a town rich with history and the History House Museum allows you to get an in-depth account of it. This includes the history of mining and shipping in the area as just described from the examples above.

There are also information panels, photographs and artefacts from early Maori culture and other significant events like the Royal visit by the Queen (yes, the Queen) and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1954. The History House Museum has been recently relocated to a pop-up location on Mackay Street, not far from the famous Regent Theatre.

4. Monteiths Brewery


For something a little more cheery, a visit to the Monteiths Brewery will do you right as one of the highest-rated places to visit in Greymouth. Given Monteiths is one of the country’s best-known beer brands, its popularity as an attraction makes sense but that only tells part of the story. Its success is its ability to satisfy an array of senses as a learning, tasting and gastronomical experience.

The fully guided tour is interactive and engaging with great beer to taste (and pour yourself) while the kitchen menu at the bar, for those that wish to dine afterwards, is delicious (the pizza and ribs are highly recommended).

Fun Fact: In 1947, Greymouth was the location of the famous Greymouth Beer Boycott – a beer-drinking strike by locals after the price of pub beer was increased by a penny.

5. On Yer Bike Adventures

There’s another side to Greymouth that is fast becoming a big draw to the town. Its untamed and wild landscape is the perfect backdrop for adventure tourism activities and attractions. On Yer Bike Adventures is one of the finest examples of that, offering offroad quad biking and buggy tours in dense, West Coast rainforest.

This is a really awesome activity that’s just so much fun. There are four different tours available from 30 minutes to 2 hours taking you through a variety of different terrain in different vehicles too. Protective clothing and boots are provided and the experienced guides will make sure you get maximum enjoyment out of your time with them, however long you choose.

6. Paparoa Track


Greymouth is home to one of our national treasures with respect to hiking. The Paparoa Track is an official Great Walk of New Zealand and the newest of its kind in the country. The track is a 55km, 3-day trek across the Paparoa Range which includes nights staying in the Department of Conservation (DOC) huts along the way.

Hikers have described the area as a slice of paradise with some breathtaking views to take in and appreciate. Exquisite rainforests, limestone landscapes, alpine scenery make up just some of the amazing things you’ll see. At the end of the hike, you’ll end up at another incredible natural feature which is actually the next thing on our list!

7. Punakaiki Rocks

 

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The Punakaiki Rocks are one of the most unique natural attractions in New Zealand and can be seen in all their glory on the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Walk. Thought to be more than 30 million years old, the Punakaiki/Pancake Rocks are limestone formations that got their name because of their striking resemblance to the popular food.

The blowhole named in the walk is the result of the escaping air and water from the caverns below, which is particularly impressive to witness at high tide. There’s a well-maintained DOC track that takes around 20 minutes to walk with some great places to stop and take snaps.

Fun Fact: When driving from Greymouth to Punakaiki you’ll follow the Great Coast Road, one of the ‘Top 10 Coastal Drives in the World’ as judged by Lonely Planet. 

8. Point Elizabeth Walkway

There’s no coast quite like the West Coast and the Point Elizabeth Walkway is a great one to do for an amazing clifftop view of it. The walkway is diverse and visually interesting, taking you through coastal bush and regenerating forest, out towards the edge of the magnificent limestone cliffs. Here, you’ll see just how vast and powerful the Tasman Sea is and the natural and stunning impact it’s had on the landscape over millions of years.

The walkway is about a 1 hour 45-minute return on foot and is a fairly easy stroll on its well-maintained path. However, for something a bit different, night-time mountain biking is also allowed from 1 April – 30 September every year (suitable experience recommended).

9. Shantytown Heritage Park

 

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Greymouth’s gold mining heritage was touched on earlier in the piece but you can fully immerse yourself into those times with a visit to the Shantytown Heritage Park. Shantytown is a recreated mining town with 30 buildings inspired by the 19th Century Gold Rush era.

But that’s just the start of it.

The heritage park also gives you the chance to experience things from that period in history like panning for gold and riding a steam train. You can also dress up and have an ‘Old Time Photo’ taken, discover Chinatown and see an old sawmill too. A great one to do if you’re travelling with kids.

10. TranzAlpine

 

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The TranzAlpine is a scenic train journey that goes from coast to coast between Greymouth and Christchurch. Described as one of the best of its kind in the world, the journey passes some of the country’s most iconic features. The Waimakariri River Gorge, the high plains of Craigieburn, Arthur’s Pass and, of course, the Southern Alps (that’s naming just a few).

The four-hour journey is an incredibly comfortable ride with excellent facilities onboard including a lovely cafe to enjoy some refreshments. The train also has Open Air Carriages giving you the chance to take some glorious glass-less photos along the way.

11. Wood Creeks Track

If all the talk of Greymouth’s gold mining history has got you excited, we’ve got one last recommendation that will hopefully seal the deal. Wood Creeks Track is a walk that gives you an authentic look at historical remnants from those times, still preserved to this day. It’s a shorter loop walk at 45 mins but is one that certainly packs a lot into that time.

Tunnels, water races, old stone walls are just some of the things you can expect to see on this interesting track which includes a suspension bridge as well. The information panels provided are great too, giving all the background you need to enrich your experience.

Some Truly Excellent Things To Do In Greymouth

As you can see, there are some fantastic things to do in Greymouth, a place you probably thought an unlikely destination for your next road trip. Perhaps you would expect nothing less from the biggest town on the West Coast.  If you’re travelling into the South Island, there are a number of ways to get to Greymouth.

From Christchurch (having picked up your Christchurch car rental with us (of course)), most people take the drive through Arthur’s Pass via Springfield taking a right at the coast at Kumara Junction. This will take you just over 3 hours. Some people even make it a day trip just to see the fabulous sights along the way.

If you fancy the trip with your Queenstown car rental the journey will take you around 6 ½ hours, however, there are some superb places to visit on the West Coast along the way. Places like Haast and Fox & Franz Josef Glacier simply can’t be missed and will only add to your awesome adventure.