Greymouth is situated at the mouth of the Grey River, on the West Coast of The South Island, New Zealand. Located 104 km south-west of West-port via Punakaiki and is 40 km north of Hokitika on State Highway 6, Greymouth is also at the western end of State Highway 7, which is the northern route between Christchurch and the West Coast via the Lewis Pass. Greymouth is the main commercial centre for the West Coast, set between the Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea.
Graymouth, or Mawhera in Maori, meaning “wide river mouth”, was the site of the largest Maori population on the west coast of the South Island, a Maori 'pa' (fortified village) was located on the Cobden side of the Cobden Bridge, where the town exists today. When the first European explorers Thomas Brunner and Charles Heaphy, with E Kehu, their Maori guide, travelled down the coast from Nelson in 1846, Brunner discovered a coal seam and the lake which now bear his name. Brunner named the Grey River after Sir George Edward Grey, Governor of New Zealand from 1845 to 1853 and again from 1861 to 1868. The discovery of gold in the Hohonu area of the district, attracted settlers, in the 1860s, who got stuck into cutting down the trees and digging up minerals, as they were all over the country at that time.
Coal and gold mining, forestry, farming and fishing have been, and still are, important industries in this region. Today ecotourism is a new and thriving industry, its not surprising when you take into account the natural surroundings here on the West Coast. Greymouth stands on coastal plains, at the foot of the Southern Alps. On a clear day, you can see Aoraki/Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak, from near the town. There are awesome beaches up and down the coast, littered with jem stones, these beaches regularly get pounded by wild surf, making this another perfect West Coast Surfing location.
Activities in and around Greymouth are numerous, and the town provides a good, central base for exploring the region. In town there is the Monteiths Brewing Company, Historic House and the Art Gallery to check out. Take a walk around the town, along the river to the mouth, where you can watch the local fishing fleet navigate the two notorious sandbars, which are renowned for being the most dangerous in New Zealand. There are a few short walks near the town that offer good sea views. South of Greymouth, the nearby Shantytown offers a interesting insight into the gold rush days of the late 1800’s, recreating the atmosphere of this era. Visitors can take a ride on a working steam train and you can also try panning for gold.
Local guides can find you the best hunting and fishing spots. There are helicopter and scenic flights that can take you along the Southern Alps to check out the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, the Mighty Aoraki/Mount Cook and return along the Wild West Coast. Another exciting way to explore the surrounding countryside is on hired quad bikes, or with a more leisurely horse trek. Make sure you get out to Lake Brunner, to experience this beautiful setting. The lake is renowned for having the biggest Brown Trout, water skiing is popular here, as is picnicking at any one of the charming spots around the lake, where you can observe the abundant wildlife.
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