Where is Greymouth?

Greymouth has a population of nearly 14,000 people, making it the largest town on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Sitting approximately 233km west of Christchurch, this iconic coastal town is surrounded by chiselled clifftops, rugged scenery, and the serene Grey Valley. Greymouth is also home to the turnaround of the iconic TranzAlpine train journey, the Greymouth to Christchurch train.

Taking just under 5 hours for the one way trip, the TranzAlpine is a breathtaking experience for any sightseer. Along the way, you’ll get a taste of everything the South Island has to offer.

From the expansive plains of Canterbury and the sparkling aqua-blue Waimakariri River to the striking riverbeds and lake valleys of the Southern Alps, this is truly one of the great train journeys of the world.

Greymouth Activities and Attractions

If you’re looking for things to do, the Greymouth to Christchurch train isn’t the only thing this remote town is known for. One of the most popular ways to view Greymouth is by bike. The West Coast Wilderness Trail is one of New Zealand’s great rides, taking cyclists on a 4-5 day coastal journey from Greymouth to the historic gold town of Ross. Each leg of the trail takes about 3-5 hours, giving riders plenty of time to enjoy the scenic hot spots along the way. 

For a more adrenaline-packed holiday, sign up for an off-road quad bike or buggy tour. Choose between driving yourself through waterfalls, forests, and mud tracks, or jumping on an ex-military off-road beast to ride through assault courses and steep mud banks.

Brush up on your history with a day trip to the Brunner Mine memorial site and walk through the industrial ruins that once produced coal and firebricks. Afterwards, cool off or warm up at the renovated Monteith’s Brewery, which once served local miners, loggers, and blacksmiths in the mid-1800s. Follow it up with a tasty meal at one of the delicious restaurants in Greymouth. Options for food lovers are plentiful with bars, grills, cafes and your classic Kiwi fish and chips to enjoy on the coast.

Or if you’re looking to get out and about to explore the coastal surroundings by foot, check out one of the impressive Greymouth walks below.

Greymouth Walks

The Greymouth area is home to many beautiful walks. The Brunner Mine walk is an easy-grade 2km loop that takes you around the historical coal-manufacturing site that operated from the 1860s until 1896 when disaster struck with a single explosion killing 65 mineworkers.

The Coal Creek Track is a gentle 3.6km bushwalk that weaves down to the Coal Creek Falls. These natural pools are a perfect place to take a dip and cool off during summer. Nelson Creek is another fantastic place to explore with a number of shorter walks. Take the 30-minute climb to the lookout for a spectacular view across lush river valleys before continuing to Prices Creek Road and into the forest.

A slightly longer walk that’s suitable for the whole family is the Point Elizabeth Walkway. With a distance of 5.5km one way, there is a well-surfaced walkway around the coast, taking walkers through the forest to a clifftop viewing platform. Not to be missed, Woods Creek Track trails through the forest. In a 1.1km loop, you’ll walk past dams and into 19th-century goldmine tunnels.

Things to do on the West Coast

Greymouth is the launchpad for exploring the incredible landscapes and industrial history of the West Coast. Highlights include the Pancake Rocks and blowholes at Dolomite Point near Punakaiki. The Pancake Rockswere formed 30 million years ago and are the West Coast's most visited natural attraction. 

East from Greymouth, you’ll find the magnificent Lake Brunner, the largest lake on the West Coast. Famed for its year-round trout fishing, Lake Brunner is equally stunning in winter and summer, with views of the Southern Alps. In the warmer months, you’ll find a range of water activities available. Choose from kayaking, paddle boarding, jet boating, or simply swimming. You can visit Lake Brunner aboard the TranzAlpine - simply book Moana as an additional stop. 

Another hotspot is Hokitika Gorge, just 33km from Hokitika township. With gorgeous greenery and breathtaking turquoise-blue water, this stop is worth every second.

Visiting Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier, Haast, and the Oparara Arches are just a few more of the spectacular natural attractions in the West Coast region. 

For an immersive experience of 19-century life on the west coast, take a trip to Shantytown. Modelled on a real-life mining town, Shantytown brings New Zealand Gold Rush history to life. Wander around authentic 1860s shops and homes, then hunt for gold using the age-old panning technique. 

With so many things to do and places to see on the West Coast, choosing one of our packages is the perfect way to ensure you don’t miss out on anything.

Staying in Greymouth

Staying overnight in Greymouth is a great way to transform your TranzAlpine train journey into an amazing short break. Explore our tour packages and add to your TranzAlpine experience. By staying overnight, you also have a good chance of a change of weather for the return journey. Low hanging clouds between Otira and Greymouth create an air of eery beauty, while sunny weather is spectacular - so it's nice to experience both. In winter, you double your chances of a snow shower, which transforms the journey into a fairytale!

Alternatively, hire a car to collect on arrival in Greymouth for a day or two and explore the great West Coast.