A few choice spots and insider tips from genuine Coaster Kim Knight.
● It's not the West Coast. Locals come from "the Coast" and local locals come from Buller, Grey, Westland, etc.
● The whitebait pizza at Hokitika's Fat Pipi's Pizza is a confoundingly good thing. It shouldn't work, but it does and if you don't spend the rest of your life dreaming about it, you are probably a monster.
● Hiring a canoe and paddling up the Porarari River near Punakaiki is about as close to Jurassic Park geography as you'll get without time travel. Take your togs. It's freezing and the sandflies will eat you alive but no pain, no 'gram.
● Buy a beer at Formerly The Blackball Hilton and thumb your nose at those other Hiltons who threatened legal action back when the pub was just called The Blackball Hilton.
● In 1896, a single explosion killed 65 workers at the Brunner Mine. It's still the country's worst workplace accident site, but the fascinating display boards and crumbling ruins make for an evocative and sobering experience. In certain conditions, you can still smell the sulphur.
● Best free view #1: The Grey River bar in a storm. Equal measures humbling and horrific.
● If it's raining, you'll get wet. Raincoats don't really work on the Coast.
● Go to the cinema or an art gallery or an artisan craftmaker's workshop or an independently owned book shop. Just because it's the Coast, doesn't mean it's uncultured.
● Truman Track (after the windy bit from Greymouth and before the windy bit to Westport) is 700m worth of the best short walk in the country. Subtropical forest opens up to a spectacular coastline with fossils in the cliff and a giant sea cave that is safe to explore when the tide is out. Stay up top and watch for blowholes when it's not.
● Learn how to read a map. Cellphone coverage is inconsistent but only locals are allowed to complain about this.
● Best free view #2: If in doubt, look to the horizon. They don't call it The Coast for nothing.