The Grey District is known as the Heart of the West Coast. An easy 2 hour drive south to the glacier region and to the north we have Buller with The Great Coast Road, numerous beaches and gorgeous bush walks.
Possibly the best thing about getting out and doing a bush walk is they are free, all you need is time. Remember the golden rule though – take only photographs, leave only footprints.
This little blog is to showcase some of our bush walks and we’ve put together a little piece of five of our favourite. Now these are in no particular order. Each time we visit these areas we say “this is our favourite walk” – until we visit the next spot again and then it is our favourite walk. They all have something different to offer be it just beautiful scenery, peace and tranquility, birdlife or history.
So first up:
Brunner Mine Site
Located on the banks of the Grey River accessible from either side – Dobson or Taylorville. Brunner Mine site is a most fascinating piece of not just West Coast history but New Zealand history. It is the site of NZ’s worst industrial disaster, back in 1886 when 65 men/boys tragically lost their lives in a coal mine explosion.
Aside from gorgeous views there are numerous relics and remnants of a bygone error and heaps of information panels explaining the history with photos to showcase the once bustling industry.
If the history, relics and river views weren’t enough there is a gorgeous short bush walk too. A must for all visitors to the Grey District.
Woods Creek Track
This gorgeous track is often overlooked but is a real must do. It is a bit of a drive to get to but totally worth it and a great way to see some West Coast back country. Head out towards Shantytown at the southern end of Greymouth and then just keep going – is about 20kms further on from Shantytown – in farming, pine planation, gold mining country.
The trail itself is only short at just over 1 kilometer but what a kilometer – absolutely packed with wows. Gold mining history from a bygone era. Don’t complain about any steps or hill climbs in this walk, these miners were hardy and worked here day in day out no matter the weather conditions.
You are basically following the water and tail race the miners dug including tunnels for the more adventurous so make sure you take a flashlight. The trail starts out in regenerated native forest before dropping down into the most gorgeous virgin forest before climbing back up into regenerated again. The size of some of the fern trees have to be seen to be believed.
Finishing off with a flurry across a swingbridge and into a miners tunnel back up to the tops. Amazing piece of gold mining history – both West Coast and New Zealand.
Coal Creek Falls Waterfall walk
Located just on the outskirts of Greymouth heading north in the little village of Runanga. A stunning bush walk on the edge of the village, gently meandering down through the forest filled with beech and podocarp trees and following the babbling creek before coming to the main event – Coal Creek waterfall.
What a spectacle. There is a seat at the top where you can sit and relax and be mesmerized by the flow of the water over the rock face. On a rainy day this is a must do walk – the smell of the forest and the waterfall roaring.
A great walk for fungi hunting April through July and if you look really close you can often see the little NZ native orchard.
Coal Creek falls is popular with the local children in the summer for swimming – for us we just love to sit and look and reflect.
Arnold River Dam walk
This is a little beauty. Take the turn off on Stratford Road off the Arnold Valley Road towards Lake Brunner, parking is up to the right of the Arnold River power station. The trail starts with a open air picnic area before crossing the Arnold River and heading into the lush green native forest.
We call this walk our treetop walkway as soon you are heading up through dense native forest of rimu, miro and kahikatea. Near the top is a lookout over the dam and river and a lovely contrast to the dense forest.
Again a great fungi hunting walk from April through July. Along the top terrace the trail continues through totara and rata trees taking you onto boardwalks protecting the undergrowth of sphagnum moss and other forest floor treasures before heading back down to river level and following the fast flowing river back towards the power station.
Point Elizabeth Track
Point Elizabeth track is a clifftop, coastal bush track running from Cobden through to Rapahoe or visa versa….. The “Point” itself is a headland that juts out to sea and can be seen as you come down the Great Coast Road towards Greymouth. There are sea stacks out off the point and you often sea seals basking on the rocks below or dolphins in the summer swimming in the surf.
The trail meanders along the cliff tops through one of the finest remaining tracts of mixed coastal forest in New Zealand including flax, ferns, rata and rimu trees. The Rapahoe end through to the point you are in the native bush but can often hear the roar of the sea. It is a relatively easy trail as you follow the old water race that the miners used to sluice their gold claims. The Cobden end is more open and tettering on the edge of the bush line. It is a great walk of contrasts.
So there you have it, five of our favourite short walks in the Grey District. No excuses now for not getting out and exploring and there is still so much more on offer.
Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth. They love to get out exploring and sharing their explorations with anyone looking at visiting the West Coast.