6am - Visit the Westland Recreation Centre to get the heart rate pumping with a Les Mills RPM class. The Westland Recreation Centre is the sports hub of the Grey District and boasts swimming pools, hydroslides, sauna, spa, stadium with two courts and first class gym. There is a fabulous range of group fitness classes on offer, designed for all ages and all abilities, including the Les Mills franchise of fitness classes, circuit, yoga and around 50 classes.
8am - Grab your caffeine fix from one of our upmarket cafes before heading to work. No need for an hour long plus commute, traffic snarls or parking woes here in Greymouth.
Noon - Head home for lunch with your partner or family on the deck of your home which didn’t cost you an arm and a leg and then some. The average house price in Greymouth is just $219,000 (as at September 2018, www.qv.co.nz) and our housing stock ranges from quaint bungalows and villas to modern new builds.
1.30pm - The boss has given you the afternoon off – or maybe you’re the boss and give yourself the afternoon off and head outdoors. You could ride one of our many mountain biking tracks or pull on your tramping boots and get some practice in on one of our many walks through nature in anticipation of the Paparoa Track opening in 2019. This will be New Zealand’s 10th Great Walk, the first new Great Walk constructed in New Zealand in 25 years and it’s going to be right here on the West Coast!
4pm - Take a drive along the Great Coast Road, ranked in the top ten coastal drives in the world according to Lonely Planet. Sit and admire the rugged and authentic coastline of the mighty Tasman Sea, feel the power of Mother Nature and see if you can spot a dolphin or two.
6pm - Head to Monteith’s and enjoy a refreshing craft beer, maybe also taking the opportunity to sample a prized West Coast delicacy, whitebait.
8pm - Time to put your feet up for a couple of hours and take in a 3D movie in one of the custom built cinemas at the Regent Theatre.
10pm - The day is almost done but before it does, wander down the main street and through the new Town Square, complete with sculpture designed by local talent and third in the 2017 WOW Awards, Weta Workshop: Science Fiction category, Craig McMillan. Then stroll along the floodwall which sits beside the Grey River and protects the town. The last big flood in our District was in 1988 (there were actually two floods in 1988) and you can see how high the water rose by the plaque on the side of the Regent Theatre building.
11pm - Let the sound of the waves crashing onto the beach lull you to sleep. This can be heard through central Greymouth a surprising distance from the sea.
Don’t just imagine. Come and experience it for yourself.
Coastal Confidence: How technology is building West Coast businesses.
A recent addition of NZBusiness Magazine featured a cover story on innovative West Coast businesses.
“You may think the West Coast of the South Island is the last place in New Zealand that would undergo a genuine technology-led business revival … But you’d be wrong, and I’ve seen the evidence – innovative businesses demonstrating their online marketing skills and mining social media technologies to connect with customers worldwide and grow sales,” said Glenn Baker editor of NZBusiness Mazgazine.
“I came away with a healthy appreciation of how hard the business community is working on the Coast to build scale and create new opportunities through technology. And it is a community in the truest sense – people genuinely helping each other to succeed”.
Link to view the full article:
Co.Starters celebrate new entrepreneurs
Inspiring business pitches marked the recent graduation night for the participants of Development West Coast’s (DWC) Co.Starters programme.
Delivered in Greymouth by WestREAP, Co.Starters is a nine-week business start-up and development programme that equips aspiring entrepreneurs with the insights and tools needed to turn business ideas into action.
The cohort of 13 participants was facilitated by Layla Dowthwaite and Philip Dittmer, along with weekly guest speakers from the local business community.
DWC event co-ordinator Rachel Doolan said the level of community support for the programme was impressive.
“It’s fantastic to see members of the Greymouth business community giving their time to come and share knowledge and inspiration with these budding entrepreneurs.”
The graduation night saw each participant give a short pitch about their business. At the end of the night the audience were asked to vote for the ‘best pitch’. Jan Fraser took home this award with her business Lomah Felt.
“At Lomah Felt I am in the business of functional, wearable art. I turn raw wool and silk into felted woollen garments, boots and accessories,” Jan said.
“Co-Starters has been an invaluable stepping stone in realising a dream can become a viable business by giving me insights into knowing my customers, the ins and outs of running a business and the confidence to take that next step.”
Schooling on the Coast.
What does schooling in New Zealand’s most sparsely populated region look like? The answer may surprise some so let’s take a look.
Of the 36 schools, there are four secondary schools and three area schools. Primary school rolls range from tiny (like 25 students) to pretty big (about 360) while the biggest secondary school roll is also small at about 500. Smaller schools mean strong relationships - and a community feel is a feature all West Coast schools have in common - everyone knows everyone.
But does small also mean limitations? It could, but these schools have developed ways to make sure their students don’t miss out on anything. The West Coast Trades Academy brings senior students from all across the Coast together for programmes at Tai Poutini Polytechnic, Whenua Iti Outdoors (Motueka) and providers in Christchurch. Courses like automotive, culinary arts and carpentry training are popular, but so are Māori cultural tourism, outdoor leadership and computer programming. Schools blend this in with learning back in the classroom, sometimes using community contacts to add more “on the job” training leading to valuable apprenticeships or tertiary study. Students love working in this blend and very few leave school without achieving NCEA level 2. The universities are a long way away but make for a fun road trip - schools take groups of students on uni visits each year and often make use of university facilities to enrich school classes.
Technology features strongly in most West Coast schools with collaboration to make life easier for students and parents - Toki Pounamu is one such cluster where both primary and secondary schools have set up a trust to enable student devices to be managed seamlessly without causing parents headaches. From year 5 to year 13, every student has their own device through this trust and teachers are trained to use creative techniques to provide powerful learning experiences.
Toki Pounamu is linked to clusters in Auckland, Christchurch and across NZ, and backed up by researchers from the University of Auckland, so that by sharing with each other we know our students are getting the quality experiences you’d expect anywhere. Being community schools, with no private schools, the flavour is inclusive - deciles don’t mean much here.
Ethnicities are mostly NZ European (about 75%) and Māori (about 20%). Māori medium education is small but growing in each of the main centres. Small, mixed classes mean students of all backgrounds learn alongside each other. There are challenges that come with this approach of course, which can be seen in the schools’ achievement stats - most sit around or just under national averages – which reflect the communities’ diversity. But as families who have brought their children from boarding schools back to their local school will tell you, where families and schools work together the child always achieves. And as former students will tell you, an inclusive education gives a great start to life in ‘the real world’ - qualities such as relating to the full range of people and skills such as strong self-management are desirable to employers and it’s amazing how many doors the phrase “I grew up on the West Coast of the South Island” opens.
As the schools don’t try to compete with each other, most don’t do promotional material. They typically have an open and honest approach to prospective school families - go for a look around during a normal school day so you get to see them as they are.
So schooling in our least populated region looks similar to other regions, in terms of facilities and learning, yet comes with its own community feel with all the advantages that come with that.
A cool little town.
It’s a place where a stroll along the beach gives you stunning views of Aoraki/Mt Cook’s snow-capped peaks. This is a town where you can appreciate the rich history of the West Coast, hear stories of ship wrecks, gold miners and pounamu hunters, while also enjoying the conveniences of modern life.
The streets of Hokitika are brimming with cafés and an inspired arts and culture scene. There are probably more galleries and studios per capita in Hokitika than anywhere in New Zealand. If you’re interested in genuine experiences and friendly characters that love to share a story then Hokitika is the place for you.
The Crafty Chook
If you ever needed an example of how you can find work-life balance, look no further than to Andrea Rogers.
This Australian-native has been a firm West Coast convert since moving to Hokitika permanently with her Coaster husband four years ago. She now runs a successful business from the family’s lifestyle block. That means that whenever she needs to take a break from working through shipping orders or making products, she can just step outside and chat to the sheep, ducks, geese, chickens and the occasional weka.
Her business, The Crafty Chook, is a unique soap-making business with a strong online presence. Andrea’s hand-crafted soap is designed, crafted and based around the rustic rugged beauty of life on the Coast and the quirky characters living there.
“Our aim is to flaunt, boast and share with everyone how amazing the West Coast is, with an ounce of humour, a small pinch of political incorrectness and a great bar of soap,” she says.
Andrea says there are many advantages to running her business from semi-rural New Zealand than from an expensive city shop.
“Hokitika is developing new growth in many sectors and the locals get right behind it. Supporting new businesses in their own backyard gives locals a sense of ownership and connection with the businesses,” she says.
And marketing her product is never easier than from her own backyard.
“Location-wise, we have the best naturally photogenic backdrops for any business. Sometimes I feel like such a tourist – everything is just begging to be photographed!”
As a new-ish local, Andrea says she can highly recommend the work-life balance and opportunities Hokitika presents. While her business started with soap made from gorse flower “for a laugh”, she now distributes her product to around 50 shops across the country and has a large social media following, which ensures her business runs smoothly.
Andrea’s success is testament to the West Coast’s appeal as a digitally connected region, allowing people to run successful businesses from where they really want to live.
West Coast Scenic Waterways Retreat
It’s a similar success story for Cindy and Gavin Hopper of West Coast Scenic Waterways. They moved to Hokitika after sampling its adventurous lifestyle and have not looked back.
"Adventure brought us to the Coast, and it hasn't disappointed. We left a textile design and electrical career in Auckland to explore New Zealand. A roast meal and job offer in Hokitika kept us in the South Island for good,” Cindy says.
The couple have since started a successful tourism venture along the historic Mahinapua waterways, offering paddle boat cruises, freedom kayaking and a bed and breakfast, catering to the many tourists who explore the West Coast each year.
“What we love so much about Hokitika is it's an awesome playground! There are not enough days in a year to tackle all the back-country huts and trails, water ski and go fishing on the lakes, and ski the slopes in winter... just an hour away. The list goes on,” Cindy says.
“Hokitika is a tourist town, so we are spoilt to have so many awesome gift shops, coffee shops, places to dine out, or take out, and enjoy a sunset on the beach. It's a lovely community to live in with so much to offer.”