We had been to Shanty Town years ago and on a recent trip to the West Coast, we wondered if it was worth another look – it certainly was.
Shantytown is a tourist attraction on the West Coast of the South Island. Located 10 km south of Greymouth, the town was constructed and opened in the early 1970s and consists of 30 re-created historic buildings making up a 19th-century gold-mining town. The town is surrounded by native forest, and is one of the region’s most popular attractions.
The Greymouth community wanted to preserve the West Coast gold-mining history so Shantytown was started by a group of local enthusiasts in 1968. Most of the effort that has gone into the creation of Shantytown has been by volunteers and donated labour. Over the years, a collection of thousands of artefacts, ranging from gold-mining equipment to early settlers furniture, everyday items and clothing, as well as photographs, has been donated and collected from local people and businesses.
The collection and wider heritage park focuses mainly on the Victorian era between the middle of the 19th century to before the Great war, but extends as far as the 1940s and many of the items are displayed in an authentic setting in the heritage park.
The township comprises two main streets lined with 30 historic buildings, including a church, and the two-storey coronation hall. The buildings are mostly original and transferred or re-built on site and house recreations of shops from around the late 19th century such as a bank, hotel, butcher, shoe shop, barber, carpenter, and a blacksmith. The town also contains a hospital, train station, fire station, Masonic Lodge, church, and a jail.
Adjacent to the main township, a “Chinatown” area depicts the life and living environment of Chinese immigrant gold miners who had migrated to the West Coast in the 1860s from other gold fields in New Zealand as they ran dry, as well as directly from China.
Shantytown is open all year round with the exception of Christmas Day. we had a great afternoon wandering around here – don’t miss it if you are visiting the West coast.
The town’s inter-denominational church, built in 1866, can be booked for weddings
beautiful bush walks Passengers can disembark at the Infants Creek Sawmill where a sluice gun (below) is fired up to four times per day and tutored gold panning is available. The vintage passenger carriages are pulled by either “Gerty”, an 1877 L-class steam engine from Avonside Engine Company, rebuilt by New Zealand railways, or by an 1896 improved GF -glass Kaitangata steam engine.