Paparoa National Park
The Paparoa National Park lies on the west coast of the South Island, roughly half way between Graymouth and Westport. This 30,327 hectare park features coastal forest, limestone canyons, caves and underwater streams as well as a spectacular coastline. Paparoa National Park visitor center, in Punakaiki. There are a number of short trails leading to interesting places on the wild coast - the Punakaiki Cavern Track, the Truman Track to Perpendicular Point, and the Te Miko Track.
Westport lies at the mouth of the mighty Buller River on the South Island's scenic West Coast. The little port of Westport, the second-largest place in the West Coast region. In spite of its isolated location it is an important commercial center for the northern part of the west coast, serving a large area. A good place to learn about Wesport's coalmining history is the Coaltown Museum - visitors can walk through a simulated mine, complete with authentic sound effects. Nature lovers will enjoy the walk out to the seal colony at Cape Foulwind - the track can be reached via a short walk from the Tauranga Bay carpark.
At the mouth of the Grey River, Greymouth is the largest town on the West Coast and a great base for the adventure. Greymouth (named after Governor George Grey) is the main commercial center on the west coast and an important port. Rain is frequent and often goes on for a long time, and a bitterly cold wind known as the Barber blows down the Grey valley. Rain is frequent and often goes on for a long time, and a bitterly cold wind known as the Barber blows down the Grey valley.
The little town of Hokitika lies in a setting of great scenic beauty on the west coast. At the mouth of the Hokitika River, Hokitika has a vibrant goldmining history, and was once the heart of New Zealand's richest gold producing province. Hokitika is also home to some of the country's best jade carvers, and you can visit the local greenstone studios to watch the artisans at work. You can learn all about Hokitika's colourful history at the West Coast Historical Museum and at the Gibson Quay area - a reconstruction of part of the original wharf that served the region during the goldrush days of the 1860s. In front of it is a statue of 'King Dick', as Richard Seddon, the local Member of Parliament for 27 years and prime minister of New Zealand in the 1890s, is known here.
Karamea has a warm climate with over 2000 sunshine hours every year, making it the sunniest area on the West Coast. In 1874 incomers from Nelson settled in the fertile surrounding area. Until the building of a road from Westport in 1915 Karamea could be reached only by sea or via the Heaphy Track. The surroundings are beautiful with the Tasman sea on one side and Kahurangi National Park - encompassing a high plateau, 15 river catchments and a long coastal strip - on the other. The park boasts stunning walks, including the Heaphy track, and mountain bike routes.
West Coast Historical Museum
The West Coast Historical Museum promises a great introduction to the rich heritage of this unique region of NZ. The Museum's research facilities are available for those who want to delve more deeply into the past. Treasure Hunt - For children, our treasure hunt makes history fun. A fascinating Greenstone and Gold audio-visual show introduces the West Coast's pioneering past and brings it to life.
Open hours for the Museum are Monday-Friday 9.30am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday 10am-4pm. Research closed on Weekend.