The town of Greymouth is situated on New Zealand’s fascinating West Coast, a region famous for its colourful history and wild landscapes. Right in the heart of Greymouth, Sundowner Motel is built on the site of the ancient Mawhera Pa (a Maori village). It was on this site that Thomas Brunner and Charles Heaphy arrived in May 1846 and became the first Europeans to visit this area.
In 1860, government agent James Mackay purchased the whole of the area from local Maori for $600 on behalf of the government. Gold was struck in 1864 and the town of Greymouth was founded. Named for the Grey River, it commemorates George Grey, then Governor of the Colony of New Zealand.
Located in the centre of the West Coast, Sundowner Motel in Greymouth is a perfect base for exploring the entire region. The famous Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes are just 35 minutes’ drive to the north. Blackball, the birthplace of socialism, is 25 minutes away and the beautiful Lake Brunner, popular for trout fishing and hiking, is only 35 minutes away by car. Hokitika, a popular tourist destination and the former gold fields capital, is a half-hour drive. Westport and the Denniston plateau beckon, just an hour and a half to the north.
For the more adventurous, a two-and-a-half hour trip will get you to the famous glaciers of Fox and Franz Josef – plenty of time to get there and back in a day.
Deemed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Area, the West Coast must be seen to be truly believed, combining natural, awe-inspiring beauty and history with breath-taking views of lakes, native bush, rushing rivers and cascading waterfalls. Such a landscape offers a huge range of outdoor activities to appeal to any visitor from families to those seeking more extreme thrills. Beach walks, forest hiking, fishing and boating are just a few of the activities available.
Greymouth is the largest town on the West Coast, situated at the mouth of the Grey River and reached from both west and north by winding, mountainous roads that are an attraction in themselves, with photo stops beckoning along the way! It is also the terminus for the famous TranzAlpine train from Christchurch and a busy centre for coaches and shuttles taking visitors on tours to other destinations on the West Coast and on to Nelson.
Greymouth is an easy base for exploring the area due to its central location.
Just south of Greymouth, and only a ten-minute drive away, is the popular tourist attraction of Shantytown (www.shantytown.co.nz). This unique replica of a pioneer town combines original and replica elements of the glory days of gold mining. Take the train from the settlement to the sawmill nestled amongst the native bush. Enter the historical buildings grouped around the tall spire of the church and witness some of the commercial success stories of New Zealand that originated on the Coast.
Other relaxed activities and visitor attractions in and around Greymouth include the art galleries, History House Museum and Monteith’s Brewing Co. (www.monteiths.co.nz), strolling along the flood wall or maybe horse and wagon tour on Barrytown beach (www.wagontours.co.nz). For those with adventure in mind, go jet boating, rafting, underwater caving, swim with the rare Hector’s Dolphin or view native Fur Seals on an ocean boat cruise (On Yer Bike Off Road Adventures – www.onyerbike.co.nz and New Zealand Discovery Adventures – www.fun-nz.com). There is also knife making at Barrytown (www.barrytownknifemaking.com).