Nestled in the heart of the West Coast, Greymouth is a charming town with a rich and vibrant history. Learn more about this popular tourist destination, as well as the best things to do in Greymouth.
Housed in a former bank building that is almost a century old, the Left Bank Art Gallery represents all that is so fantastic about New Zealand’s artisan arts and crafts culture. Peruse a diverse range of paintings, ceramics, prints, and jade (pounamu) carvings in a beautiful historic building. Centrally located in Greymouth, a visit to the Left Bank Art Gallery is essential if you want to indulge your inner artist.
Pounamu, also known as jade or greenstone, is of utmost cultural and historical significance to New Zealand. Valued by Maori for its beauty and rarity, pounamu is considered a ‘taonga’ (treasure) and is protected under New Zealand’s Treaty of Waitangi. Pounamu is found only in the South Island of New Zealand, primarily on the West Coast. Jade Country is an area of the West Coast that stretches from Harihari in the south past Hokitika in the north. This area is full of artisan jade carvers, boutique stores selling jade products, and testaments to the historical value of the stone.
The West Coast (and Greymouth in particular) is famed as the home of good beer in New Zealand. The Monteith’s Brewery Company has developed over nearly 150 years from a family outfit into one of the most famous names in New Zealand brewing and craft beers. Monteith’s Greymouth brewery has recently reopened, combining rugged West Coast heritage with cutting-edge production techniques. You can book a guided tour of the brewery and enjoy delicious beer and food, as well as pick up some of Monteith’s best brews to take away.
One of the most perennially popular things to do in Greymouth is visiting Shantytown. Located a short drive from Greymouth, Shantytown consists of dozens of re-created historic buildings that are designed to look and feel like a 19th century gold mining town. The history of Greymouth and the West Coast region is inexorably tied to the waxing and waning fortunes of gold mining. A big drawcard at Shantytown is the opportunity to go panning for gold just as early settlers did, as well as riding an authentic steam train.
Thousands of visitors every year are drawn to Greymouth as a base from which to explore the world-famous Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. “Glacier Country” includes both glaciers, as well as Okarito and Whataroa. Both the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers are counted as being two of the most accessible glaciers in the world, and are renowned for their spectacular beauty and magnificence. A guided glacier tour is the best way to experience either glacier, and there are also opportunities for self-guided walks and hikes. Glacier Country is also home to a number of adventure activities, including sky diving, helicopter and plane tours, and quad bike trails.