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. The region early Maori called Te Tai O Poutini was valued for its precious pounamu jade. Later, Europeans came in search of other rich resources such as gold, coal and timber.
2 hours 46 mins, 209 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 of billy tea with The Bearded Miners. Visit Blacks Point Museum and Waiuta - NZ’s richest gold mine ghost town.
1 hour 3 mins, 78.8 km
Reefton to Westport
Travel to Westport via the Buller Gorge.
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.
Special Optional Extra: 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: Westport or Greymouth
Around Westport and Karamea
1 hour 28 mins, 101 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
1 min, 1 m
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
32 mins, 39.4 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.
1 hour 43 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).