Shantytown Heritage Park was officially opened on January 23rd 1971
The idea of Shantytown arose out of a meeting in Greymouth of a group of railway and vintage car enthusiasts in 1968. The group were keen to preserve West Coast relics and create a tourist attraction.
Barney Sutherland, a watchmaker and jeweller
, who had an interest in gold-panning as a tourist attraction presented his idea of recreating an old West Coast town. The West Coast Historical and Mechanical Society was formed and soon after work began on the present site.
Over Ten Thousand hours of donated labour
Local service clubs such as Rotary, Jaycees and Lions as well as numerous tradespeople donated over ten thousand hours of labour to create Shantytown. This community spirit remains today as Shantytown Heritage Park is governed by a board of local people.