Touring Routes

The West Coast Heritage Tour

If you love to discover gems and tales of old, there's plenty of history and heritage to soak up on the West Coast.




6 days


359 mi / 578 km


Any time

Day One

2 hours 35 mins, 204 km


Reefton is the northern gateway from Christchurch or Nelson, the Town of Light - first public electricity supply in Southern Hemisphere.

The Reefton Goldrush in the 1860s created much of the character, charm and history you see in the township and surrounding areas today.

The town itself became established about 1870 and with mining came technology and innovation.

Have a brew with The Bearded Miners. Visit Blacks Point Museum and Waiuta - NZ’s richest gold mine ghost town.

Around Reefton

Day Two

1 hour 1 min, 79.5 km

Reefton to Westport

Travel to Westport via the Buller Gorge.

Don’t miss Coal Town Museum, explore the Denniston Incline and Plateau’s coal mining ghost towns.

Take some extra time while in Westport and enjoy a day on the Stockton open cast coalmine or in the Awakari Valley backcountry on Johnny’s Journey with Outwest Tours.

Take two or three days and visit Karamea. Call in on the Northern Buller Museum at Granity, the old coal mining town of Millerton and walk the Charming Creek track along a former coal and milling railway line.

In Karamea visit the Museum, Estuary Walk depicting river and port history and Oparara Basin with spectacular limestone arches and caves.

Stay: Karamea, Westport or get to know the locals at their hotel bar, such as:

Karamea Hotel

Seddonville Hotel

Around Westport and Karamea

Day Three

1 hour 26 mins, 102 km

Westport to Greymouth

Greymouth (via Great Coast Road).

Stop in at Mitchells’ Gully Gold Mine, take a wander around the old gold town and port of Charleston.

View the Rūnanga Miners Hall (under restoration), before heading to Greymouth’s Left Bank Art Gallery to view their National Contemporary Pounamu Collection.

Meander along the Flood Wall Walkway, where you can view the Coal River Park, Port Cranes and Breakwaters.

Around Grey District

Day Four

17 mins, 22.5 km


From Greymouth visit the Brunner Coal Mine and Industrial Site – site of New Zealand’s worst mine disaster, Blackball and the Museum of Working Class history.

Head south to Shantytown Heritage Park.

Visit Kumara, the Premier King Dick Seddon’s Gold Town, see the restored Theatre Royal Hotel and explore round the 1865 Gold Trail through gold rush ghost towns of Goldsborough and Stafford (mine tunnels, walks and historic cemetery).

Around Grey District

Day Five

28 mins, 37.1 km

Greymouth to Hokitika

Hokitika was once a Goldfields Capital and Port.

Visit the Museum or take a Guided Town Walk.

Meander along the heritage quayside, streets and buildings.

Visit the Westland Industrial Heritage Park or first New Zealand airline memorial.

View artisans working gold, pounamu, precious stones, wood, metals and glass.

Discover the pounamu (greenstone) story with Arahura Greenstone Tours.

Around Hokitika

Day Six

1 hour 40 mins, 134 km

Hokitika to Glacier Country

To Franz Josef / Fox Glacier.

Visit Rimu / Woodstock Hill Goldfields Lookout and Heritage Site, at Ross pan for gold and walk the Goldfields.

Take a break at Hari Hari’s First Trans-Tasman Flight Memorial, at Whataroa join Alpine Fault Tours, stand between the continental plates and see how the Southern Alps were formed.

Visit the peaceful Okarito goldrush town and port with lagoon and heritage tours, historic wharf shed, Donovans gold rush era store, coastal pack track and stunning views of the Southern Alps and glacial landscape formations from the trig station.

Then on to the Glaciers.

Return to Christchurch via Hokitika and Otira / Arthur’s Pass Alpine Highway or travel on to Wanaka via Haast stopping at Ship Creek historic area and Haast Visitor Centre (settlement and highway heritage displays) and venturing south to Jackson Bay (historic cemetery, wharf and walks).

Around Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier

Itinerary Map

Heritage West Coast

About the author

Heritage West Coast, Organisation

There are over forty heritage groups on the West Coast. Heritage West Coast was formed after a number of informal heritage forums, which brought together the people and associated groups involved in projects in the region to share knowledge and experiences. Heritage West Coast is a legally Incorporated Society. The efforts of its members are voluntary.

Heritage West Coast has established a steering committee which comprises people from heritage groups, projects, Tangata Whenua / indigenous first peoples representatives, central Government agencies including, Department of Conservation, the West Coast Branch of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and the three West Coast District Councils.