CHEAP CAR RENTAL GREYMOUTH
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Cheap Car Hire Greymouth
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West Coast Attractions
A rental car gives you the freedom and flexibility to make the most of your time exploring Westport and surrounding areas. Here are a few of the many attractions around the West Coast region you might like to consider checking out. The letters on the map match those on the tabs below, where you'll find information about each attraction. For more ideas, check out the West Coast tourism website.
Shantytown is one of Greymouth’s premiere tourist attractions, a replica settler village where the West Coast’s history comes alive. It’s an easy drive from the town centre - only 10 km south. It recreates life during the gold rush through a number of means.
The village includes 30 stores and buildings across 2 streets; a highlight is the old Beehive shop, where you can have an old fashioned milkshake or lolly mixture. A flying fox helps to keep younger ones entertained while you picnic in the park or grab a bite at the cafe.
Entry to Shantytown includes a vintage steam train ride. There are regular departures throughout the day between 9.45 am and 4 pm, so you never have to wait too long. The trip runs through native rainforest along an old sawmill tram route from the 1800s, for about 1.5 km. At the end of the line passengers can disembark to stretch their legs, snap some photos and look out for weka - a native New Zealand bird that often frequents this particular spot. On the return journey the train stops at the sawmill - from here it’s a quick stroll to the gold claim area, complete with a powerful sluice gun. Watch as gold speckled gravel is blasted from a cliff face, then down to the gold claim where you can pan for gold under the experienced eye of a tutor.
The Shantytown sawmill offers another perspective on pioneer life. A boardwalk leads through the interior, complete with the squeals of clanking heavy machinery and old film footage that loops on big screens.
There’s also the fascinating Victorian Princess Theatre - catch the holographic show here before you leave, which incorporates old transcripts, photographs, and records with modern special effects to reenact old tales.
Pancake Rocks, Punakaiki
Punakaiki is most famous for the so called Pancake Rocks at Dolomite Point, just a 40 minute drive from Greymouth in your rental car. Part of the Paparoa National Park, they are one of the very top natural attractions on the West Coast.
Here, giant columns of rocks resembling stacks of hotcakes were formed millions of years ago when the remains of plants and marine life melded with limestone and mud on the bottom of the ocean floor. Over time they built up and rose higher and higher, buoyed by seismic activity. Wind and rain then entered the picture and played their part of eroding the softer sandstone, carving horizontal lines into the rocks, and leaving behind the wonder of nature that we see today.
At high tide, the sea shoots up through blowholes between the rocks, shooting geysers of salty spray skyward. It’s a truly impressive sight, particularly at the surge pool known as Devil’s Cauldron. The swell tends to hiss and roar and will often spray the closest onlookers.
An easy walkway leads from the roadside around the edge of the cliffs and back. Plan for 30 minutes to an hour to spend here. The path begins in native forest (you may see the weka, a native bird, pecking around here) giving way to scrub and flax. Coming up to the coastal edge you’ll see staircases carved into the rock faces. There are informational panels that tell you about the geology of the rocks, too. You may be lucky and spot some Hector’s dolphins coming in close to shore.
Other activities in and around the tiny township of Punakaiki mainly revolve around the outdoors. You can go horse riding on the beach, canoeing on the Pororari River, or tackle one of the walking and hiking trails, such as the Truman Track, Pororari River Track, Cave Creek or Punakaiki to Bullock Creek Rd.
An iconic New Zealand name, the Monteith’s brand hails from the West Coast - Greymouth in fact. With close to a century and a half of brewing experience under its belt, it’s a power player in the national craft beer industry. It bears the name of brewer Stewart Monteith, who took over Phoenix Brewery in 1868. In the early 20th century, a handful of West Coast breweries combined into Westland Brewing Company. Then 1969 rolled around, and DB Breweries purchased the company, renaming it Monteith’s in a nod to its true origins.
Sitting on the corner of Turumaha and Herbert Streets in Greymouth, close to our rental depot, the newly refurbished Monteith’s brewery is a genuine local landmark. Step inside and soak up the aromas and warmth. As long as the doors are open, the bar is open for tasting too. There are many varieties to sample, from light and fruity to dark and rich - or order a tasting tray to get the full breadth of flavour. The cafe offers a menu inspired by the sea and bush that characterise the West Coast, to complement the brews.
Monteith’s beers are free of artificial preservatives, with the only additives being ingredients such as honey or lemon juice.
Hand crafted in small batches, there is a classic range of popular favourites as well as a brewer’s series, which is continually evolving and adapting.
A brewery tour offers a behind the scenes look at the establishment (tours are held at 11.30 am, 3 pm, 4.30 pm and 6 pm). Learn about the heritage and traditions behind Monteith’s, the origins of each individual beer, and go behind the bar to have a go at pouring your own.
Do you want to stretch your legs and see more of the Paparoa National Park? The Croesus Track is a living example of an old mining track; you can even get a feel for what a miner’s life was like when you visit or stay at the old Croesus Top Hut, or camp out beside the Garden Gully Hut. It makes for a great tramp for new hikers, or alternatively for more advanced mountain bikers.
The Croesus Track travels between Blackball in the Grey Valley (a quick 20 minute drive from Greymouth in your rental car) and Barrytown on the Tasman coast, weaving across the Paparoa Range. Allow 2 days to complete the trail.
It starts from the tiny town of Blackball - most famous for its historic hotel, called ‘Formerly the Blackball Hilton’ - as a gravel road. It then enters lush forest before climbing to Ces Clark Hut. Stop here for lunch and enjoy the incredible outlook, or stay overnight. Nearby Croesus Top Hut is open to visitors when Ces Clark Hut is full. Carry on up the Paparoa Ranges (from here most riders turn around and return downhill to Blackball) - at its highest point the track rises 1 km above sea level. The route along the open peaks is marked by poles.
Originally constructed in 1881, the track was cleverly built using advanced stonework to work around the rugged and steep slopes in the area. It’s a prime example of a ‘pack track’ or ‘bullock road’, built to allow early settlers access for the purposes of tourism, mining, farming etc. Horse and bullocks would travel these tracks transporting goods from point to point; many of today’s roads initially began as a pack track.
Lots of historic sites and relics from the gold rush days remain and can be seen along the way, such as old alluvial workings and the remains of a quartz mine at Garden Gully Battery (just 15 minutes from the hut of the same name - built in the 1930s by prospectors, it has since been fully restored).
In 1896 the Brunner coal mine became the scene of one of New Zealand’s worst mining disasters, with an explosion killing a total of 65 workers. The decision was recently made to open the Brunner Mine up as a historic site and a tourist attraction, paying homage to the tragedy. Located in Stillwater, it’s just a 10 minute drive east and inland from Greymouth in your rental car. It offers a glimpse into the past, the evolution of the site and the astounding stories of the people who toiled here once upon a time.
Allow at least an hour to explore this area. The walk is about 2 km long in terms of distance, though you don’t need to cover the full length, and takes in the brickworks factory, old ovens, and remnants of tunnels. The northern and southern ends of the mine site are connected by an old suspension bridge, over the Grey River.
Informational panels explain the ruins that are still standing - the beehive coke ovens are especially significant, even on a global level, as there are very few surviving examples of these today - and there is a memorial to the original accident as well, which was put up for the centennial anniversary.
The Brunner mine was one of New Zealand’s earliest industrial sites. Not only was coal mined here, bricks and similar products were manufactured as well, from the 1860s through to the 1940s. Coal was initially uncovered here in the 1840s by Thomas Brunner, although the commercial site was not established for another 20 years. Come the 1880s, the mine was pumping out more coal than any others in the country - boosted by the building of a railway to Greymouth, and the suspension bridge.
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Great for backpackers like us on a tight budget. Got to do more of the amazing things NZ offers with the money we saved. Awesome!
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