Greymouth City Guide

At the mouth of the Grey River, Greymouth is the largest town on the West Coast and a great base for the adventure, history and natural attractions that draw visitors to this rugged part of the South Island. From Greymouth, you can enjoy excursions to the region’s mountains, glaciers and lakes with activities such as dolphin watching, eco-rafting, cave rafting, sea kayaking, horse treks, 4WD safaris and scenic flights.

Gold was discovered on the West Coast in the 1860s and this colourful era comes alive 13km south of Greymouth at Shantytown, a reconstruction of a goldrush era town. Try your hand at panning for gold or ride the horse-drawn Wells & Fargo coach. Lake Brunner and the lakeside village of Moana lie to the east of Greymouth with jetboating, canoeing and bushwalks or take a trip up the Grey Valley to the historic mining settlement of Blackball.

Get your bearings

The commercial heart of town lies on the south bank of the Grey River. The intersection of Mackay and Tanui Streets marks the centre of town. Visit the Greymouth Information Centre at the corner of Herbert and Mackay Streets for friendly and local insight about the city.

Things To Do

  • The TranzAlpine
    One of the world's great rail journeys, the TranzAlpine travels across the Southern Alps between Greymouth and Christchurch, rewarding travellers with spectacular Alpine scenery as it passes through Arthur's Pass National Park.
  • Watersports
    There is excellent fishing at Lake Brunner, and in the Hohonu, Orangipuku and Arnold rivers, and surfing at nearby Cobden Beach. Whitewater rafting is possible in many of the area's rivers, with waterskiing and wakeboarding on the Grey River.
  • Walks
    Popular walks include the quay walk from Cobden Bridge, and the Elizabeth Track (3hrs return) 6km north of Greymouth, which passes through a scenic reserve and some old goldmining sites.
  • Goldmining sites
    Try your luck at gold panning at nearby mining areas, including Tewanui near Runanga and Nelson Creek. The visitor centre has details. Jade & Gold Discovery also operate tours to search for gold and greenstone.
  • Monteith's Brewing Co
    See what's brewing and sample the award-winning beers on a brewery tour, including lager, pilsener, Celtic Red and Monteith's Black.
  • Shantytown
    Located 10 kilometres from Greymouth, this recreated 1860s gold rush town has more than 30 replica buildings on display including a jail and stocks. Visitors can try their hand at panning for gold or watch sluicing operations. The steam train Kaitangata takes visitors on a 20-minute ride through native rainforest. Old time photos available as memento.
  • Taniwha Cave
    Greymouth operators provide tubing tours to this subterranean cave, which offer the chance to float through a glowworm gallery and down a 30m natural hydroslide. There is a 30 minute walk through native beech forest to reach the cave.
  • The Jade Boulder Gallery
    A jade gallery and studio with onsite carvers, a jade discovery walk and café.
  • History House Museum
    A collection of historic photographs and memorabilia of the West Coast.
  • Blackball
    A trip up the Grey Valley leads to the historic mining settlement of Blackball. The Croesus Track, an old route to the gold diggings, departs from here and has walks of varying lengths.
  • Lake Brunner
    Lake Brunner and the lakeside village of Moana are to the east of Greymouth with attractions such as jetboating, canoeing and bushwalks.
  • Pancake Rocks
    North of Greymouth are the naturally-formed Pancake Rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki, one of the West Coast's most popular attractions.


Located at the mouth of the Grey River, Greymouth is a mecca for adventurers, with an array of activities that make the most of the coastline and wild hinterland that surrounds it. Tours cover a wide range of options from dolphin-watching and heli-rafting to horse treks and river tubing.

Operators include:
  • Coastwide Helicopters
    Flights over Mount Cook, Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, Milford Sound and Paparoa National Park.
  • Eco-Rafting Adventures NZ
    Specialised eco-rafting adventures into the New Zealand wilderness.
  • Dragons Cave Rafting
    Cave rafting through glow-worm-lit caves with stalactites and stalagmites. Options include the hydroslide and Love Tunnel.
  • Kea West Coast Tours
    Half-day fully guided tours to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, Hokitika, the Pancake Rocks and Shantytown.
  • New Zealand Fly Fishing
    Fishing based at Lake Brunner, Westland's largest lake.
  • 4x4 Unimog Adventures
    Offering a mix of beach, mountain and rainforest tours.
  • Off Beat Nature Tours
    Photography and eco tours of Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, the Pancake Rocks and a seal colony.
  • On Yer Bike!
    4x4 farm-bike tours.
  • Paparoa Horse Treks
    Treks take in Punakaiki's Pancake Rocks, beach rides and river crossings. Horses to suit all abilities.
  • Wild West Adventure Company
    Cave rafting, gold and jade tours, whitewater rafting and 4WD trips.
  • WYSIWYG Go-Karts
    An indoor go-kart track.

History & Goldmining

Gold fever first erupted on the West Coast during the 1860s. Greymouth was just one of the centres which sprang up during those boom times to serve the miners heading for finds along the Greenstone and Taramakau rivers at such evocatively-named sites as Blackball and Moonlight. The gold mining era is brought to life at Shantytown, an award-winning replica gold rush town 13 kilometres from Greymouth.

The Gold Trail
  • Formerly The Blackball Hilton
    A 19th-century pub at the historic gold and coal mining town of Blackball.
  • Goldsborough
    An old goldmining area, complete with ghost towns, some 35 kilometres south of Greymouth.
  • History House Museum
    A collection of historic photographs and memorabilia of the West Coast.
  • Nelson Creek
    A variety of short walking tracks amongst historic gold workings. Gold panning, camping, picnic ground and toilet facilities.
  • Shantytown 
    An authentic 1860s gold rush town with more than 30 buildings, Shantytown offers steam train rides, gold panning and horse and cart rides.
  • Waiuta/Big River
    Walks explore an old township that was one of the South Island's richest gold mines. There are the remains of mine workings, houses and a crushing battery.
  • Woods Creek
    A 1 kilometre loop passing through gold workings, past tailraces, tunnels and dams, complete with interpretational panels.