Greenstone, also known as NZ Jade or Pounamu is found in many places around the West Coast and Hokitika and is treasured for its spiritual significance among local Maori.
The precious stone is prized for its strength and durability and also for its decorative beauty. Understandably these qualities meant the stone was used historically by local Maori for the production of weapons, tools and attractive adornments.
Authentic New Zealand Pounamu is only found on the South Western region of New Zealand’s South Island. Traditionally areas such as the Taramakau and Arahura rivers in Westland, and around Lake Wakatipu in Otago are the most prolific, along with some places in the Milford Sound in Fiordland.
It is important to note all of New Zealand’s Pounamu is protected, and subject to sustainable management plan and responsible environmental practices.
These days West Coast Greenstone is used to make jewelry and sometimes sculptures or other types of art. There are 5 main types of Greenstone, each with its own unique qualities.
According to Maori tradition it is bad luck to purchase Greenstone items for yourself – a great excuse to have somebody else buy it for you!
When purchasing Greenstone items be sure to ask where the Greenstone was sourced as due to lack of availability sometimes carvers use imported product instead. To find out if your Greenstone is authentic visit the Ngāi Tahu Pounamu website.
Or to find out where to buy your NZ Pounamu, see NZ stockists here.
Feel like fossicking around on the beach to try and find your own piece? Sometimes small pieces washed up in storms can be found on the beach, you are permitted to take any pieces found on the beach but not if they are found elsewhere.
In its natural state the stone will be less of a green colour and more grey in appearance with the outer skin of the stone having a “soapy” feel to it.
There are some places on the West Coast that allow you to watch the carvers at work on their latest pieces, and also try your hand at carving your own piece. This can be a fun way to see how it’s done and make a great personalised souvenir to take home.
Bonz and Stonez and the Mountain Jade Carving Studio are two such places both located within the Hokitika township. Take home your very own piece of New Zealand with your hand carved piece of Pounamu from the West Coast and remember your New Zealand adventure forever.
Need transportation to make the most of the area? View our full range of affordable Greymouth rental cars and explore the best of Greymouth at your own pace.
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