Explore the best things to do in Greymouth with our extensive travel guide.
Though people visiting the West Coast of New Zealand may not have Greymouth, the largest town in the region, on their list of places to check out, there is plenty to see and do.
Not only is it a fascinating historical hub with close links to the mining and the gold rush periods, but it’s regarded for its off-road biking, beautiful natural wonders, and top-notch breweries.
To make your next trip easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in Greymouth.
In this handy guide, you’ll find the very best attractions and activities worth exploring in this underrated South Island town.
So, whether you have a single day in town or looking to stay a bit longer, you should be able to put together a great itinerary that matches your interests.
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The Best Things to Do in Greymouth
Awesome Greymouth Activities and Attractions
In no particular order, we recommend building your local itinerary from the following suggestions.
1. Step Back in Time at the Shantytown Heritage Park
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Greymouth this year, the Historic Shantytown is an excellent item to add to your agenda.
This attraction is essentially a replica town that was built to represent what Greymouth may have looked like during the 19th-century gold-rush and saw-milling periods. The site took an incredible 10,367 work hours to produce and is a labour of love created by a group of railway enthusiasts, vintage car aficionados, and the local West Coast community.
While you’re here, take a ride on the Heritage Steam Train, pan for gold, experience the incredible sawmill, and spend some time visiting the museum. If you have more time on your hands, consider going on a Short Rain Forest Walk to clear your head.
Despite receiving no public or government funding, this place remains one of the top things to do in Greymouth and shouldn’t be missed!
316 Rutherglen Road Rutherglen, Paroa, Greymouth 7805
2. Enjoy a Local Brew
If you’re looking for a uniquely local spot to visit, head straight along to the Hopaholics taproom and craft beer bar.
This boutique brewery is locally owned (and celebrated), and it’s well worth visiting!
They serve an extensive range of standard craft beers (which you can also purchase to enjoy later in your travels), along with a collection of ‘weird and wonderful’ brews that are constantly updated.
What’s more, their beers are batch brewed using quality local ingredients, producing both traditional and innovative local beers.
We also love that they make a concerted effort to look after the environment by limiting their waste and using pure rain water in their beers. They even use worms to treat their sewage!
Warm and welcoming, grab your own vessel (or purchase one there, ready to be filled and refilled) and head along to Hopaholics.
Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4 pm: 51 Stuart and Chapman Drive, Karoro, Greymouth 7805
Did you know? Hopaholics regularly have live musicians play at their bar. You’re also welcome to order food from the Woodstock Grill next door to enjoy with your beer, and to make use of their extensive board game collection.
Those who love to tick off local craft breweries when they visit a new destination will appreciate everything that Monteith’s Brewery has to offer.
Monteith’s is one of NZ’s top beer brands, but it first found its feet on the West Coast! If you’d like to learn more about the beer-making process while sampling several hearty brews, you can head on Monteith’s affordable Brewery Tour.
Not only will you learn how to pour a beer with the perfect head on this 45-minute tour, but your experience finishes at the Brewery’s restaurant and bar.
So, if you’re feeling tuckered out during your Greymouth adventure (or have a full morning of sightseeing pencilled in on your itinerary), this activity will give you plenty of time to recoup.
Oh, and did we mention that you’ll be able to take home a 6-pack of your favourite beers when the tour is over?
It’s all included in the price, so don’t worry!
60 Herbert Street, Greymouth 7805
3. Get your Heart Racing with On Yer Bike!
If you’re not afraid to have adrenaline coursing through your veins, why not go off-roading with On Yer Bike?
This unique attraction is extremely popular with Greymouth tourists, as it allows you to get up-close and personal with the area’s dirt roads.
You’ll certainly get muddy along the way, but you’ll also be treated to glorious forest or waterfall views based on the package you choose.
The Enchanted Forest Self-Driving Tour is an excellent choice for those who want a tranquil trip through the heart of the forest, while the Waterfall and Forest Track Combo Tour will give you a true off-roading experience that covers dirt trails and water-based adventuring.
If you’d prefer to stay dry while tackling mixed terrain, head on the Hot Tracks Tour. This unique experience puts visitors inside an ex-military Hagglund that takes off-roading seriously.
511 State Highway 6, Coal Creek 7802
4. Visit the Brunner Mine Site
While you’re in Greymouth, we highly recommend learning about the area’s fascinating past by visiting the Brunner Mine Site.
The history of this spot is slightly grisly, as it was the site of the 1896 Brunner Mine explosion that sadly killed 65 miners. You won’t be able to see much of the original mine because of the immense damage, but you can still see remains of the old coke ovens on the north of the river and a memorial plaque that pays homage to the fallen workers.
If you’d like to learn more, there are several interactive displays that you can read along a 2km walk nearby. These displays detail what happened that day and how the community recovered.
You’ll need to drive approximately 11km to reach this attraction, but it remains one of the most worthwhile things to do in Greymouth.
Taylorville Road, Taylorville 7805
5. Enjoy Local Galleries and Boutiques
Greymouth is perhaps best known for its mining history, but it also has plenty to offer art and culture buffs!
Visiting the local galleries is one of the best things to do in Greymouth and it’s a relaxing way to spend a morning before hitting the local trails.
We highly recommend visiting Nimmo Photography for gorgeous fine art photography or the Left Bank Art Gallery for creative sculptures, contemporary New Zealand paintings, and prints. For something slightly more traditional, why not check out Shades of Jade? Selling an array of locally sourced New Zealand Greenstone jewellery, any purchase from here is bound to make a gorgeous souvenir.
Don’t leave without exploring the famous Greymouth Sunday Market. Attracting both tourists and locals, you can browse local handmade jewellery, woodwork creations, knitwear, and artisanal goodies.
Nimmo Photography: 102 MacKay Street, Greymouth 7805
Left Bank Art Gallery: 1 Tainui Street, Greymouth 7805
Shades of Jade: 22 Tainui Street, Greymouth 7805
Greymouth Sunday Market: Civic Centre, Puketahi Street
6. The West Coast Wilderness Trail
Whether you consider yourself worthy of the Tour de France or have only just removed those pesky training wheels, the West Coast Wilderness Trail is a wonderful cycling route for the whole family.
Spanning 120km, this bike trail takes you past glaciers, glimmering lakes, rugged beaches, and wetlands before bringing you to the historical town of Ross. The entire trail will take approximately 4 days to complete at a decent pace, but you can easily cover small sections of the trail before heading back if you’re travelling with inexperienced riders or travellers with little legs.
It’s estimated that each leg of the trail takes around 3-5 hours to cover, so simply split it as you wish! Just remember to pack your camera, plenty of sunscreen, a few granola bars, and water for the journey.
If you’re struggling for time, we suggest completing the Greymouth-Kumara leg. It’s rated Grade 2 (so, it’s suitable for most abilities) and takes around 2-4 hours to cover.
7. Snap a Photo of the Clock Tower
Though a visit to the Greymouth clock tower is unlikely to be top of your list, it’s worth swinging by whilst you’re in town.
Build in 1992, it is a replica of the demolished clock tower once found on the Greymouth post office.
We recommend heading there at the end of a day’s exploring for perfect sunset photos.
Mawhera Quay, Greymouth 7805
8. Pay Your Respects at the Coal Miners’ Memorial
Near the Greymouth clock tower, you’ll also find a memorial to local coal miners.
Unveiled in early 2013, this memorial names each of the miners lost in local mining accidents.
It is a beautiful memorial to all those that lost their lives and is a worthwhile stop whilst visiting this region.
104 Mawhera Quay, Greymouth 7805
9. Check Out the Mouth of the Grey River
Whilst in Greymouth, it’s worth making the short trip to the Grey River.
The mouth of the river is protected by a large sandbar. This bar is a well-documented hazard for boats, but each day countless boats cross it to head out fishing.
Both sides of the river offer great views that are particularly memorable at sunset.
We suggest you pack a picnic and head along to enjoy the outlook. Keep your eyes peeled too as it’s possible to spot dolphins, seals and birds fishing.
It’s a short drive from Greymouth, through Blaketown to The Breakwater, or The Tip, we called it growing up there. On a calm day, you wouldn’t know how treacherous the bar, the entrance to the river, can be. Many fishing boats have been lost trying to cross the bar into the Grey River. There is a memorial to the men lost. The Breakwater gives great views of the Grey River, and the hills in the distance. On a sunny day you can see the Alps. It is worth a stop.Trip Advisor
10. Hit the Pools
The Westland Recreation Centre is a favourite amongst locals, but it’s also a fabulous stop for water-loving travellers — particularly those with kids!
Equipped with a range of pools, heated between 27˚C and 30˚C, this indoor facility is the perfect place to head if the weather isn’t playing ball outside.
There, you’ll find a number of different pools (lap, learners, leisure, toddlers pools and spas — they have it all).
They also have two hydroslides which are a hit with kids (and the young at heart).
This is a fun and affordable thing to do whilst visiting Greymouth.
11. Play a Game of Mini Golf
Another great budget-friendly activity for families, we suggest you check out the mini golf course whilst in town.
With 18 holes of fun, this course is suitable for all ages.
As you’d expect, they supply everything you need to play, so you’re free to just turn up and challenge your travel buddies to a round.
Good luck for a hole-in-one!
1 Chesterfield Street, Blaketown, Greymouth 7805
Did you know? Greymouth also has a full-sized golf course so if you’d rather play a full round of 18 holes, that’s also possible.
12. Enjoy a Show
Though you mightn’t expect Greymouth to be home to a stage show (or even a drag show), it sure is!
Each year the LoudMouth Performing Arts Festival offers up a variety of comedy, music, dance, theatre productions and more. They source shows from right around New Zealand (and beyond) and have a focus on quality acts.
In fact, in 2022 they’ve extended the festival to last practically all year!
Learn about the shows SuperBrain Productionz have coming up and be sure to book tickets if an event falls when you’re in town.
One of their shows is a great way to spend a West Coast evening.
340 Main South Road, Paroa, Greymouth 7805
13. Pay a Visit to Gloria of Greymouth
Gloria of Greymouth is perhaps the most unique attraction in town — and it’s definitely worth checking out.
Originally known as St Andrew’s Anglican Church, it was built in 1939. It’s fair to say it’s come a long way in that time though.
Now owned by Sam Duckor-Jones, this building is part home and part art installation — and all pink!
It’s a quirky and colourful homage to queer culture that is ever-evolving.
Whilst you’re in the area, we suggest swinging by for a look from the outside. If Sam’s working on the church, you may even be invited inside for a look (though keep in mind that this is also his home).
77 Packers Quay, Blaketown, Greymouth 7805
14. Explore Greymouth’s Waterfalls
Greymouth is home to several cascading waterfalls, including Coal Creek Falls and Carew Creek Falls — both of which are worth visiting.
We suggest paying a visit to Carew Creek Falls (alongside Lake Brunner, which is officially out of Greymouth). This waterfall is approximately 30m high, and its signature rugged rocks and the beautiful surrounding forestry make this site one of the finest photo opportunities in Greymouth.
Once you’ve taken in the beauty of Carew Creek Falls, head to the famous Coal Creek Falls. Although it’s only 7 metres high, this waterfall is one of the widest in New Zealand. What’s more, it’s a mere 10 minutes from Greymouth by car, making it easy to slot into a standard travel itinerary!
Coal Creek Falls: 40 Ballance Street, Cobden, Runanga 7803 (11-minute drive)
Carew Creek Falls: 7875, 1962 Kumara Inchbonnie Road, Inchbonnie 7875 (45-minute drive).
15. Relax at Lake Brunner
Though Lake Brunner is a 30-minute town, it’s a worthwhile stop on your Greymouth itinerary.
This lake is a popular spot for water sports and also fishing. In fact, it is home to some of the best trout fishing in the whole country!
Lake fishing is open year-round, with the winter months being particularly good. You’ll find experienced fishing guides locally and are also able to purchase your fishing licence and hire fishing gear at Moana, the little township on Lake Brunner.
In addition to fishing, this lake is great for swimming so be sure to pack your togs and a picnic as you head off for the day.
Did you know? You’ll pass by Lake Brunner on the TranzAlpine (which is #17 on this list), so be sure to keep your eyes peeled if you’re coming in or out of Greymouth on the train.
16. Make the Most of Incredible Local Nature Walks
- Point Elizabeth Track – With striking panoramic views of the ocean, this coastal walkway is popular amongst families and visitors to the area. It also weaves its way through varied and interesting forest early in the walk. It is 5.5km one way, but you can turn around at any point if you’re short on time. [At the time of writing, this track was only open from the Rapahoe end due to a slip.]
- Woods Creek Track – At 1.1km (and a 45-minute return trip), this track certainly packs a lot in! Traverse swing bridges and walk through impressive cave-like rock formations.
- Rewanui Incline – This old disused railway line track is a popular local trail for walkers, runners and mountain bikers. It covers 10.50km, with a total ascent (and descent) of 170m.
- Paparoa Track – This 55.7 km shared hiking and mountain biking track is located in the beautiful Paparoa National Park. Relatively new, this track was formed in memory of the 29 miners who lost their lives in the Pike River Mine disaster.
17. Depart Greymouth on the TranzAlpine Train (or Arrive on it)
Nothing quite says “travel in style” like the TranzAlpine train.
Not only is the train itself comfortable and well-kitted out (complete with massive windows), but the journey from Greymouth Railway Station through to Arthur’s Pass is one of the most scenic train trips in New Zealand.
The train passes through the West Coast rainforest before heading through Arthur’s Pass National Park.
You can stay on the train for a short journey if you’re just here for the views, but you can ride the entire 223 km to Christchurch if you’re looking to cram more places into your NZ adventure.
The enormous train windows offer unparalleled views of the local mountains, and you can pop to the Scenic Café for a cup of tea or a light bite if you’d like to take the phrase “dinner with a view” to the next level.
This trip remains one of our favourite things to do in Greymouth, and you’d be genuinely silly to miss it!
Book: Discounted tickets on the TranzAlpine between Christchurch and Arthur’s Pass. Save 10% using the promo code NZTTPLAY.
Things to Do South of Greymouth
18. Marvel at the Hokitika Gorge
Okay, so Hokitika Gorge isn’t in Greymouth per se, but it makes a wonderful day trip from the main town if you have time to spare.
This scenic gorge is just under an hour from Greymouth by car, and it boasts a couple of family-friendly hikes that will take you to the impressive viewing platform. The waters by the gorge are a deep turquoise and they’re almost impossibly clear (you can thank the mountains and glacial movement for that!).
After exploring the main gorge area, check out the adjoining podocarp forest at the Hokitika Scenic Reserve for a closer look at the South Island’s lush vegetation.
Related: The best things to do in Hokitika.
How to get there from Hokitika: Hokitika Gorge Scenic Reserve is 33 km east of Hokitika. Leave Hokitika’s main road by turning inland onto Stafford St which becomes Kaniere Rd, then Kaniere-Kowhitirangi Rd. South of Kokatahi the road turns sharp left, then sharp right. Turn left into Johnston Rd, right into Nielson Rd, and left into Whitcombe Valley Rd.
19. Go Heli Hiking at Franz Josef or Fox Glacier
Fox and Franz Josef are both known for their massive glaciers and mountains — and best of all, they’re not that far from Greymouth.
Located in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, these glaciers can be seen from the ground but to get up close to them you’ll want to climb onto them…
Before you get any lofty ideas about scaling one of these glaciers though, you’ll need a hand.
To keep yourself safe (to make it up to the ice) you’ll need to join a guided heli hiking tour. On your trip, your guide will offer several fun facts and informational tidbits along the way — plus, it’s the only way to access the ice.
Their heli hikes aren’t cheap but they are absolutely one of the best things to do in the area, if not in the whole country. We think the breathtaking views and expert knowledge that you’ll find on these tours are well worth the cost — they really are bucket list adventures.
The drive from Greymouth to Franz Josef takes just over 2 hours, whilst Fox is an additional 30 minutes away.
Related: Our Franz Josef heli hike review.
Things to Do North of Greymouth
20. Pay a Visit to Punakaiki
Just 40 minutes north of Greymouth, you’ll find Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks — a must on any West Coast itinerary.
This intriguing rock formation is situated in Paparoa National Park.
There, you’ll find blowholes, surge pools and unique limestone rocks (that look like stacks of pancakes), all connected up by an easily accessible pathed walkway (that’s only 1.1km long).
The walk takes approximately 20 minutes and is particularly exciting at high tide when there is a south-westerly swell. It’s at this time that the blowholes come to life, forcing seawater up through the rocks.
Even on a still day though, the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks are worth visiting!
Did you know? Apart from a small optional section (that has steps), this walk is suitable for wheelchairs (with assistance) and strollers.
21. Head Underground in Charleston
If you’ve got a thirst for adventure, you absolutely have to head north to Charleston.
From this sleepy little town (which is an hour’s drive north of Greymouth), you can venture underground in what is one of the most unique experiences in Aotearoa.
First, you’ll get kitted out in wetsuits and safety gear before hopping on board a train and heading into the bush by foot. You’ll spend the next few hours underground, navigating a massive caving system and marvelling at glow worms, before making your way back towards daylight.
Finally, you’ll float your way down the gentle rapids as you head back to home base.
The ideal mix of adventure and nature, this is black water rafting at its best.
We hope that this list of the best things to do in Greymouth has inspired you to take on the West Coast on your next New Zealand adventure!
If you’ve recently returned from a trip (or are a true-blue local!), why not tell us about some of your favourite attractions?