The ‘Stone of the Gods’ was literally fashioned as the offspring of volcanoes, earthquakes and uplifted mountains.
Greenstone, or ‘pounamu’ was prominent in ancient Maori mythology because of its vital importance as the medium for tool and weapon making. The greatest treasure of the wild West Coast was laboriously transported over high mountain passes to the far-flung corners of Aotearoa.
The West Coast is renowned for its dramatic scenery and a great variety of adventure activities. It is also famed for its natural riches and treasured past. The gold rush of 1864 was comparable to California’s 49’ers and the Klondike. These days the West Coast’s high quality jade is just as celebrated as the gold.
You can view jade carvers at work, finely crafting exquisite jewellery and sculptures in the Jade Boulder Discovery Walk at the Greymouth greenstone factory. In pre-European times the Greymouth region supported a sophisticated jade-working industry and local quarries produced raw material for sharp-edged adzes. These were used for tree felling and woodworking. Giant logs were fashioned into sleek, efficient and decorative war canoes capable of carrying one hundred warriors.
Hokitika by contrast, was the hub of the early European gold mining bonanza with a busy river port and sprawling miner’s settlement. This heritage is well-preserved in many of the restored colonial buildings and museums. Today, greenstone is the main focus of the town’s bustling art and craft galleries. You can view expertly crafted treasures and heirlooms of the future, derived from locally sourced greenstone, gold, timber, shell, bone, fibre, clay and a unique West Coast precious stone, called ruby rock. You will meet some very interesting craft folk around the workshops and galleries of Hokitika. An eclectic mix of artisans and artists, who have a deep appreciation of the magnificent landscapes of the Coast, and the raw materials found here.
Nature’s splendour on the wild West Coast stimulates a lot of creativity utilising the modern ‘Green Gold’.