A Travel Guide to Greymouth
Greymouth, or Mawhera which means “wide-spread river mouth” in Maori, is nestled in the corner of the Grey River’s mouth, the Tasman Sea and an interior of rugged West Coast mountains and rainforest. From the early Maori searching for pounamu (greenstone) in the surrounding area to the European pioneers harnessing the land for gold and coal, Greymouth certainly has a fascinating history made vivid by the abandoned mining sites and machinery along many of its walks among the lush rainforest. Some traditions, like whitebaiting and beer-brewing, are still a major part of local life, making for a foodie addition to your visit to the Grey Valley.
Of course, being a South Island town, its main highlights is, indeed, the scenery. Greymouth is surrounded by beautifully rugged coastline and untamed natural rainforest that be experienced on anything from short walks to New Zealand Great Walks and premium cycling trails to 4WD off-roading adventures.
So plan your “stay in the Grey” with this complete travel guide to Greymouth, covering all types of travel.
Fast Facts About Greymouth
Location: On the west coast the South Island in the centre of the West Coast region.
Climate: Daily average temperature – 12.2°C/53.9°F, yearly average rainfall – 2,553 mm/100.5″
Find out more in What is the Weather Like in New Zealand?
Time zone: NZST / GMT+12/+13
How to get to Greymouth: Greymouth is connected to the rest of the South Island, located along State Highway 6 providing access to the West Coast and State Highway 7 leading east to Christchurch. The closest international airport is Christchurch Airport (3 hours drive), but domestic flights to Hokitika Airport are available from Christchurch and Queenstown. Greymouth is on the main national bus route, which you can find more information about in Bus Networks in New Zealand.
Greymouth for Budget Travellers
A town shrouded in history and surrounded by awe-inspiring scenery, Greymouth is easy to explore on a budget. Check out historical sites, many of which make interesting features while delving into the West Coast rainforest or lapping up the rugged scenery of the coast. Much of the highlights surrounding Greymouth, from the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks to Hokitika Gorge, as well as hidden gems like Lake Brunner, are just a short drive away but completely free to enjoy. So plan your affordable getaway using The Guide to Greymouth on a Budget.
Budget Activities in Greymouth
- Check out the historical Brunner Mine Site
- See mining relics in the forest of the Woods Creek Track
- Lap up the coastal scenery of the Point Elizabeth Walkway
- Browse the jade art and more at Left Bank Art Gallery
- Spend the day at Moana and Lake Brunner.
For more details on each activity and more, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Greymouth.
Budget Accommodation in Greymouth
Seaside holiday parks, characterful hostels, convenient motels and historic hotels, the budget accommodation in Greymouth covers the whole spectrum meaning there’s something for everybody. Check out our top recommendations in the 10 Best Budget Accommodation in Greymouth.
Greymouth for Luxury Travellers
We admit, when we first visited Greymouth, we didn’t think any luxury stays or premium tours would exist in this down-to-earth mining town. Then, we discovered what’s on the outskirts of town, along the beachfront and nestled in primaeval native rainforest. Boutique lodges certainly have a presence here, even if they’re hard to find, making your stay in this historical coast of the South Island a special one. Combined with awe-inspiring helicopter rides, teeing off on scenic golf courses, and hiking premium trails like the Paparoa Track, these premium lodges complement a luxury stay on the West Coast quite nicely. Find out more in The Luxury Guide to Greymouth.
Luxury Activities in Greymouth
- Ride “Scenic Class Plus” on the TranzAlpine train (available on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- See the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Hokitika Gorge or other highlights with Explore West Coast (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Hike the Paparoa Great Walk
- Fly and land in the majestic Southern Alps on a helicopter tour
- Do some boutique shopping and gallery browsing in town.
For more details on each experience and others, see the 8 Luxury Activities in Greymouth.
Luxury Accommodation in Greymouth
The selection of premium accommodation in Greymouth is by no means extensive, with just one upscale apartment complex within the town. Its outskirts, however, hide a few boutique lodges with rainforest or coastal locations you’ll never want to leave. Check them out in the 5 Best Luxury Accommodation in Greymouth.
Greymouth for Families
An essential stop on a West Coast family road trip, Greymouth offers “heaps” for families. From free short walks to fun-filled 4WD tours, there’s a variety of outdoor adventures to be had. A highlight for families is Shantytown, a replica gold-rush town with train rides, gold panning and much more to keep the little ones entertained for the whole day. Stay in one of the holiday parks, motels or hotel rooms in Greymouth and make that the base for exploring surrounding West Coast highlights, like the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Hokitika Gorge and much more. Check out our advice for planning a family trip using The Guide to Greymouth for Families.
Family Activities in Greymouth
- Go on an off-roading adventure with On Yer Bike (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Experience the West Coast like it used to be at Shantytown Heritage Park (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Tackle one of Greymouth’s short walks
- Take a trip to the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
- Or take a trip to Hokitika Gorge.
For more details on each activity and their locations, check out the 10 Things to Do in Greymouth with Kids.
Family-friendly Accommodation in Greymouth
Make your accommodation part of the recreation at one of the holiday parks or make your life easy with self-catering facilities at one of the motels. Either way, you have plenty of options for family-friendly stays, as listed in the 10 Best Family Accommodation in Greymouth.
Greymouth for Couples
Sure, a place called “Greymouth” doesn’t sound all that romantic. But couples who can look past the not-too-endearing name will find charm in the historical ambience, beautifully rugged coastline and hidden gems like glowworm caves. A special experience is finding greenstone to carve into a necklace for each other while retreating to your boutique B&B puts a romantic spin to your trip. Check out our advice for couples visiting Greymouth in The Honeymoon Guide to Greymouth.
Romantic Activities in Greymouth
- Watch the West Coast sunset from Rapahoe Beach
- Immerse in a cultural experience on a greenstone tour
- Admire the glittering glowworms on the Glow-worm Cave Tour (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Tackle the West Coast Wilderness Trail together
- Buddy up or go solo on a self-drive 4WD tour.
For more details on each experience and others, take a look at the 10 Romantic Activities in Greymouth for Couples.
Romantic Accommodation in Greymouth
While some couples might not be too fussed with the affordable hotels, motels and hostels in town, others might want to set the tone just right by staying in the quaint B&Bs and boutique lodges. Check them out in the 6 Best Romantic Accommodation in Greymouth.
Greymouth for Foodies
As well as coal and gold mining, Greymouth has a history in beer-brewing and whitebaiting, which are traditions that still hold strong to this day. One of the highlights of the town for many visitors is the Monteith’s Brewery offering comprehensive brewery tours. Visiting Greymouth between mid-August to November will bring you into the throws of the whitebait season where “whitebait fritters” adorn most local menus. So plan a few food experiences while you’re in town with The Foodie Guide to Greymouth.
Food Tours and Activities in Greymouth
- Tour the Monteith’s Brewery (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Try the West Coast delicacy, whitebait
- Pick up some gourmet New Zealand meat products from Blackball Salami
- Browse the Greymouth Sunday Market
- Make your own kitchen utensils with Barrytown Knifemaking.
For more details and locations of each experience, see the 7 Things to Do in Greymouth for Foodies.
Foodie Accommodation in Greymouth
From self-catering stays to hotels with popular restaurants to lodges with delectable breakfasts, there are a few accommodations in Greymouth that work to enhance your foodie trip. Check them out in the 10 Best Accommodation in Greymouth for Foodies.