The Greymouth area on the west coast of New Zealand doesn’t have a lot to offer but there’s one spot that’s worth a visit. It’s called Shantytown, and is the reconstitution of a XIX century goldmining village. Come and have a little travel back in time!
Once we left the mountains and lakes of the Wanaka area, we headed off to the west coast of NZ’s south island. There’s a local saying about the west coast: “West Coast is Wet Coast!” and indeed, it’s the most “rainy” area of New Zealand. Our first goal was to explore this coast and spend some time in the Franz-Joseph and Fox glacier area. These glaciers are very famous and we wanted to see them. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t on our side and during almost the entire week, the weather was rainy and fully covered with big clouds. This meant that we couldn’t visit the glaciers – by foot or by air, as there was zero visibility and we couldn’t see even a hint of these famous glaciers… :(
So we went north, along the coast and landed in the city of Greymouth, still a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to see the glaciers. Greymouth isn’t really known for offering interesting sights but after much looking around, we found a place called “Shantytown” which is meant to recreate a XIX century goldmining village. It’s actually an interesting subject and let us discover an important part of New Zealand’s settlement history, where the gold rush and gold fever played an important part in the increasing amount of foreign immigration and settlement of new populations.
This village is also a kind of attraction that the park is offering a lot of different activities but is most active in the summer season (December/January). As we went there in July, it was an off season and the village was almost empty but that actually proved to be a great thing as this little village looked like a ghost town with a very special atmosphere, almost like if time stood still and nothing has changed since the last century.
You can walk along the streets and go inside the old shops, like in the museum where you discover how these people did live in the past century. Everything’s well-made and the explanations are very interesting. At the railway station, you can even take an old charming Steamer, the Kaitangata train; it will bring you inside the deep forest and to the goldmining spot.
This place was very interesting and is worth a visit! If you want to know more about it, here’s the official website of Shantytown
Travel story to be continued…