West Coast’s best kept secret: Woods Creek Walk

Woods Creek Track: Magical Short Walk on the West Coast

Hands down, Woods Creek track has to be one of my favourite short walks for young kids on the West Coast, if not New Zealand.  I know, thats a big call. But this 1km walk through a “fairy wonderland” forest in old gold mining country was amazing.  If you are introducing your kids to walking, especially in the toddler/preschool age group, then this is a great start as there are lots of things to explore, diverse terrain and they definitely won’t get bored on this West Coast walk.

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Worth the drive

Now you may think that driving a further 20km past Shantytown, out to the middle of nowhere, just for a 1km walk isn’t worth the effort, but I’m here to tell you, that if you have young kids they are going to love this walk.

Never said “I’m tired”

Our kids, 5 and 3 (at the time), walked the whole way, never once asked when it was going to end, or that they were tired.  In fact, they asked if they could walk around the track again. Sounds good so far right?

Gold mining tracks and tunnels

The Woods Creek walk itself is pretty flat, except for some staircases.  This meant the kids could wander by themselves and explore. Both found “walking sticks” in the carpark and happily ventured into the forest, looking for “dragons”. (Of course, theres no dragons, but thats what they imagined lived there)  We headed over swing bridges, past historic sluicing and mining sites, across small boardwalks, into caves and tunnels and easily back to the start again.  If you want to actually try your hand at goldpanning, you can do this at Shantytown, just up near the main road (you will pass this on the way here)

For parents…

For parents, it was by far the most enjoyable walk we’ve done with the kids, and it took us a bit over an hour or so to explore.  I actually loved walking through, the trees were so tall and bush so dense, it felt magical.

Exploring the Caves

If you explore a few of the caves/tunnels, you do need a torch.  Our phone lights were fine, but I think the kids would have preferred a brighter flashlight if we had it.  They got a teensy bit freaked out in the dark as we walked quite deep into one. (But you don’t have to go through that one)  Near the end there is a huge tunnel that you must go through, but you can see the light at the end, so it was fine.

How to get to Woods Creek Track

To get here, you follow the signs for Shantytown (not too far south of Greymouth)  You stay on the road past Shantytown and go all the way to the end. The last 10km are on gravel road, but you won’t need a 4WD.  The gravel/dirt road is easily manageable for a car… just the last 1km and up the last hill its pretty bumpy, so when you hit that, you know you are getting close.  The Woods Creek carpark is easily signposted on the right hand side. (there’s a photo of it at the bottom of this page)

Other activities on the West Coast



Founder of Backyard Travel Family

Jen is a super organiser when it comes to travel. Having travelled extensively in Europe and Africa, has lived in London and the USA and holidayed in many parts of Asia, she is not a newbie to the travel space

Jen has three young children, 5 and under and travels around New Zealand with them.

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what you need to know


- 30 minutes from Greymouth
- 45 mins from Hokitika
- 20 minutes from Shantytown

The trail

- Forest track covered with leaves and gravel
- Majority of it is flat, bar some stairs
- Swing Bridge
- Small wooden bridges
- Gold mining caves (torch or phone light needed)
- Long tunnel (that you have to go through to get out)
- Stairs

Suitable for kids?

- Babies: Will need to be carried. Not suitable for strollers
- Preschoolers: Our 3 year old walked this all by himself. Its only about 1km long but takes an hour to explore
- 5 year olds + can easily walk it on their own


- No facilities here

What to bring

- Probably a rain jacket since it rains so often on the West Coast
- Torch/Flashlight/Phone light
- Water and snacks if they require it to walk

Food options

- None here. Head back to Greymouth

Further information

Click the ? for the DOC guide for this walk

What the critics thought

I'm not usually one to love a bush track. I usually prefer something with a view, but as an adult I really loved this. The kids got to explore and there was so much variety and interesting things along the way. A great entertainer. Also its pretty covered in dense trees, so on a wet day with rainjackets, you wouldn't get too wet.
Backyard Travel Family / Your go to for practical advice for active families travelling around New Zealand
Chief Travel Organiser
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