Greymouth is a town of about ten thousand on the stunning West Coast of the South Island. Here, the Southern Alps are separated from the Indian Ocean by a narrow plain, making for dramatic scenery. When it’s clear, Aoraki/Mount Cook can easily be seen from Greymouth.
The Trans-Alpine train runs between Greymouth and Christchurch. This train makes the most of its journey through the Southern Alps with enormous windows and a special viewing car. It’s particularly dramatic in winter.
Just up the Grey River is the site of the old Brunner Mine, closed after several miners died. The entrance to the mine shaft can still be seen, as well as traces of the old mining settlement.
Not far south is Shantytown, a loving recreation of a nineteenth century mining village. There you can also go gold-panning and take a short steam-train journey through the bush.
The area around Greymouth also offers glow-worm caves, black water rafting, beautiful stony beaches and the remarkable Pancake Rock formations at Punakaiki.