Word got out in 1866 that gold had been found in Saltwater Creek. There were plenty of gold miners already camped in the new town of Greymouth. The rush to the creek brought several thousnad men storming over the dunes and driftwood. A mining camp was established overnight. Greymouth’s newspaper the Argus reported “all been put up in hot haste, that here was one of marvelous creations of modern days, a digging township. Hammers noisly sounding, the publicans’ bars crowded with diggers eager to push the new diggings, with the accompaniment of noisy boatmen and general assortment of loafers looking out with wistful eyes.” William Revell Warden of the Grey area was duly sent to supervise the new town and estimated the population of Paroa at 4500. Paroa had 7 Hotels to satisfy the thirsty miners a Post Office, Road Board Office, Baker and a School.
The first and only entance to Paroa via The New River was soon woefully inadequate to carry the increaing rush of ever hopefull gold diggers. The best solution was to construct a tramway through the dense bush and the Greymouth-Saltwater Tramway was registered in October 1866 with the line completed in the following May. The station erected at Saltwater Creek was an intrigiunbg and unique covered archway over rails that was an extension of the hotel building. The gabled roof carried the prominent lettering, “Williams Hotel and Station” (this is seen in one of the pictures above) An inland branch line was also laid to Rutherglen.
The township had the foundations for a prosperous future but tradgedy struck in 1874 with fire engulfing most of the town, with one person dead. Most people shifted to Marsden or followed the ever present excitement of a new discovery of gold elsewhere in Greymouth and The West Coast. The development of a railway from Greymouth to Hokitika through Paroa enabled it to survive as the railway station attracted cargo and passengers. ALso a large population of Chinese people arrived. The Chinese people would normally occupy old diggings and earned good money reworking old tailings that the Europeans would abandon in their haste for new discoveries. A lot stayed in Paroa and set up market gardens. Sawmilling soon developed in Paroa and also in the wider area of Greymouth and used Paroa as a convenient railhead.
The Paroa Hotel has been a popular spot since the first gold miners arrived to seek their fortune in 1866. There was once a busy port that used to carry passengers, goods and essential miners supplies like alcohol and tobacco. Out of the 7 hotels that were around in the Gold Rush in Paroa, The Paroa Hotel is the only surviving one. Most other hotels were dismantled and moved away to new gold fields or were destroyed by fire (a common fate for West Coast Hotels).
The late Ham and Corrie Monk arrived from Kaikoura to purchase The Paroa Hotel in 1954. 55 years on, the Monk family are still here with the third generation offering the best in West Coast Hospitality.The hotel is built totally from stone collected from South Westland.
Bernie and Winston Monk are your hosts and they welcome you to relax and enjoy the friendly environment that is The Paroa Hotel.
Drive Time from Paroa Hotel: 45 minutes
The Hokitika Gorge would have to be one of the most unheard of and beautiful places in New Zealand. Whether you are the adventurous person and would like to go kayaking or would just like to walk around the gorge, be ready to experience some of the most crystal blue water you have ever seen.
Here is a blog posted by March 20th 2007 by Knightsontour on the popular travel page “Travel Blog” www.travelblog.org “After being wowed by the Blue Lake of Mt. Gambier in Australia, I didn’t expect to be as amazed by incredible blue waters again. This was equally amazing. The milky blue colour of the river flowing down this gorge is incredible. The first sign of what was to come was teasing glimpses through the trees of this unworldy water, until you arrive at the swingbridge which crosses the gorge, giving you closer access to the waters. The colour comes from glacial ice water melt mixed with the milkiness of the silt that has been ground down from the rock faces/bed around and under the moving glacier. Beautiful.”
The trip from Greymouth to Westport is rated by lonely planet as one of the 10 best scenic trips in the world. The coast is awash with iron clad sand and at times the road runs hundreds of feet above the thunderous Tasman sea.
This road juts inland at times through beautiful untouched forests but mostly follows the roar and sight of the sea.
The glorious bush that dominates the road as you glide through it is saturated with nikau palms offering a sub-tropical look to the landscape. This is very unique to this part of New Zealand and is complimented by the dense native ferns.
Drive only 10 minuutes off the main road to The Cape Foulwind Seal colony and see the New Zealand fur seal at play. Watch this video on the seals at the colony. Seal Colony.
There are many sights and activities to do along the way and most do not cost anything to do, speak to us at Paroa Hotel for the best independent advice on what to do on your trip.
The drive from Greymouth to Westport takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes without stops.
Drive Time from Paroa Hotel: 40 minutes
Be inspired by the must see attraction found in Paparoa National Park that is the Pancake Rocks. Punakaiki can be found in one of New Zealand’s 14 National Parks and is home to the world famous blowholes, rugged beaches and rain forests.
You can picnic along the beach while watching surfers ride the torrid waves. There are cafe’s to be enjoyed and bush walks a plenty. Enjoy some West Coast craft and arts that can be found in and around the area.
The main attraction that can be found in Punakaiki is the blowholes and ”pancake rocks”. The pancake rocks have been coined this name because of the shape that they have taken 30 million years ago. Minute fragments of water creatures and plants landed on the seabed, about 2km below the surface. Immense water pressure caused the fragments to solidify into hard and soft rock types. Seismic movement caused the sea bed to erupt out of the sea. Through millions of years of mildly acidic rain, wind and sea spray these rocks have been sculpted into these bizarre shaped formations.
The blowholes on the other hand are a more exhillirating sight and can be enjoyed by all ages as it only takes 10 minutes to walk there from the main road. This occurs when surges in the Tasman sea move in between tight chasims of rocks causing the water to explode in an upward motion, spraying water into the air displaying an awesome sight. High tide is the best time to visit. Check out this video of the blowholes altough it has to be seen to be believed.