Where are the West Coast Museums?
A good excuse for a pitstop while exploring the West Coast or good back-up for when the weather isn’t playing ball is visiting the excellent museums of the West Coast. In a region that held important resources for the locals, like pounamu (greenstone), gold and coal, the early settlers of the West Coast went through unimaginable risk to find their treasures and make their fortunes. Their stories are best told in the museums on the West Coast, containing the machinery and items used to recover their “taonga” (treasure). Check out some of our top West Coast museum recommendations below!
While you’re here, you might also be interested in 10 West Coast Must-Dos.
1. Coaltown Museum
Don’t miss this well-curated museum in the heart of Westport. Easily located by a coal bin standing on the main street of Westport, the Coaltown Museum tells the stories of the Buller coalfields through fascinating artefacts and videos. Watch vintage footage of the Denniston Incline at work and be amazed by the huge Denniston Incline “Q” Wagon leaning over the exhibition. The Coaltown Museum is open daily. It’s one of the 11 Things to Do in Westport on a Rainy Day.
Location: 123 Palmerston Street, Westport
2. Hokitika Museum
The Hokitika Museum building is a relic in itself situated in the grand CarnegieBuilding completed in 1908. See exhibitions on pounamu (greenstone), Westland’s contribution to the World Wars and gold mining around Hokitika. The Hokitika Museum is open daily until 2pm. Check out more 5 Hokitika Must-Dos.
Location: Corner of Tancred and Hamilton Streets, Hokitika
3. Pop-Up History House Museum
[Update: The History House Museum has been relocated to what’s now called the Pop-Up History House Museum on 8 MacKay Street].
Learn about early pioneering life in the Grey District through a huge collection of photographs and relics. Of course, much of this is focused on coal and gold mining. An interesting feature of the museum is a 3D map of the area showing all of the coal mines in the area. Check out 5 Greymouth Must-Dos for more things to do.
Location: The Pop-Up History House Museum – 8 MacKay Street. The original History House Museum building – 27 Gresson Street.
4. Inangahua Junction Earthquake Museum
This tiny town between Reefton and Westport has a fascinating museum recalling the 1968earthquake that occurred in the area measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale which led to a temporary evacuation of the town. The museum also holds relics from the surrounding settlements of this isolated area of the West Coast. The Inangahua Museum is open daily.
Location: Inangahua Junction
5. Blacks Point Museum
Full of memorabilia from yesteryear, the Blacks Point Museum is chock full of artefacts and old everyday items used by the local people. The museum is located in an old church for Methodist miners. Find this museum on the Lewis Pass Road just before reaching Reefton. Black Points is also home to some mountain biking trails which you can learn more about in Mountain Biking in Reefton. Blacks Point museum is open October to April, Wednesdays to Fridays and Sundays.
Location: Franklyn Street, Blacks Point
Step into the recreated 19th Century gold mining town at Shantytown. Ride a steam train, pan for gold, visit the foundry and experience what it’s like to work in a sawmill. There are around 30 buildings in the village to have a look around and examine collections of artefacts. Other experiences at their open-air museum include a 3D hologram theatre, a mineral hall and a cafe. Shantytown is open daily.
Location: Rutherglen Road, Paroa
7. Murchison Museum
Step into this trove of information and discover the gold and coal mining history at the Murchison Museum. You’ll see a wealth of goldfields items, as well as learn about the 1929earthquake which shaped the landscape and affected the local families. The Murchison Museum is open daily.
Location: 60 Fairfax Street, Murchison
8. Karamea Museum
Check out the displays of the Karamea Museum covering local Maori history, farming, gold mining, flax-milling, sawmilling, shipping and more! There is also information on the 1929 earthquake that closed the port and brought on a wealth of challenges to this isolated community. The Karamea Museum is open daily during summer.
Location: Waverly Street, Karamea
9. Northern Buller Museum
Aptly located in a former State Coal Mines building, the Northern Bulle Museum, also known as the Granity Museum, is another spectacular museum to see coal mining machinery, memorabilia and photos. The museum is next to historic coke ovens and houses. Northern Buller Museum is open daily in summer.
10. Westland Industrial Heritage Park
This open-air exhibition displays machinery and vehicles that constructed the West Coast. The Westland Industrial Heritage Park is open on Wednesdays 2pm-8pm and Saturdays 9am-4pm.
Location: Airport Drive, Hokitika