Destination Greymouth: West Coast Gem Show, October 2 – 5, 2008

 Bruce @ Gem Show

Ever since Bruce has been dabbling in making orgone devices and merkabas, he’s taken up an interest in gems.   Months ago he said to me, “We have to go over to this gem show in Greymouth this October” to which I replied, “yeah, great.”   Perfect excuse for a little holiday!

So the time finally upon us, we made the journey over to the West Coast and stayed for three days.   Greymouth is a little less than 300 km (200 miles) from Christchurch, almost directly opposite it, on the west coast of the south island.   With a population of 14,000, and located at the foot of the Grey River, it’s an old gold-mining town, and historic buildings and remnants of old mines can still be seen.   Rather small and provincial, one of the most interesting ‘town’ activities is touring the Monteith’s brewery (highly recommended and which we’ve done on previous trips) which culminates in a generous sampling of their wide range of beers; otherwise, the draw is all the nearby outdoor activities:  hiking, mountain biking, rafting, tubing through caves, surfing, and combing the beaches for agates and other stones.


We booked ourselves into the Global Village Travellers Lodge, tucked away on the side of a bank along the river just a few blocks from the main part of town.   I have to say, it was one of the nicest backpackers in which we’ve stayed.   A private double room runs $60/night and amenities include a sauna and spa pool, a weight room, and the use of kayaks and mountain bikes.   The owners are world travelers themselves, and the place is filled with art from Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, and other Pacific Rim countries.

Amethyst Geode

We attended the gem show on Friday armed with our crystal book (Crystal Power, Crystal Healing by Michael Gienger) and ready to pick up a few treats for ourselves.  Rather small, perhaps only 50 vendors from around the country displaying their wares, it was quite intimate and we had a good time chatting with the passionate folks whom, we found out, many hike up rivers and into old mines to hand collect the stones themselves.    A good amount of the wares came from around New Zealand, although a few folks had world collections.  We were wide-eyed and ready to spend, and spend we did.   Our biggest treat for ourselves was the purchase of a large Brazilian amethyst geode.  Oooh, we’d been eyeing these for years and the price was right on this one, so into our collection it came.    In addition to that lovely piece, we bought a gorgeous piece of malachite (green),  kyanite (blue) and a large quartz (white) which will all be displayed around the house in Wainui.   On a smaller scale, we picked up some serpentine (greens), rhodenite (pink), aventurine (green), chrysoprase (apple green), labradorite (blue), some agates (greens/blues), rose quartz (pink), and calcite (yellow).  Quite a haul!   Yet, all of them have spiritual and physical properties which we thought would be good for us and would be helpful to use in our meditations.


I’d been particularly interested in getting some hiking in as it’d been so long since we’d been in the bush.  Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it rained for the first 48 hours we were there (the west coast gets some of the wettest weather in the country), so we made do by sleeping in and reading quite a bit.  Totally relaxing.   By Saturday afternoon I was getting a little antsy, and during a break in the weather, I dragged Bruce to go on a one hour bush walk through Omotumotu Park, right on the outskirts of town.  Refreshing yet somewhat muddy, we got halfway through before it started heavily raining again, and by the time we finished the walk, we were entirely soaked!   On Sunday, the skies cleared up, and we managed another one hour walk on King Domain track, which zigzagged uphill to four separate lookout points which offered great views of Greymouth and the Grey River Valley.

Grey ValleyLake BrunnerGreymouth Township

We took the scenic route home, passing through Lake Brunner where we enjoyed a scenic lunch by the lake.  And we also stopped in Arthur’s Pass and did another short hike up to Devil’s Punchbowl Falls.  We got a chance to observe the famed high country parrots, the Kea, which are known for tearing and nibbling on the rubber of car windscreens!   These Kea were perched at one of the lookout points, seemingly content on eating handouts from the tourists (some people apparently can’t read the ‘do not feed the Kea’ signs).

 SceneryKeaDevils Punchbowl Falls

All in all, a great weekend getaway!