The West Coast is a wild and mostly uninhabited region of New Zealand. ... Māori were first to discover the West Coast, seeking sacred pounamu (nephrite jade or greenstone). Exploration of the area by Europeans began in the 1840's with Thomas Brunner, Charles Heaphy and Arthur Dudley Dobson. James Mackay completed the land sale of the West Coast from the Maori in 1860. Gold fever in the 1860s brought Europeans, many of whom stayed on to start farming, forestry and businesses. By 1865 the population of the West Coast had grown to 16,000 and another 14,000 arrived during 1866. The reported gold recovery for the later year was 553,000 ounces. The first buildings in the area were little more than shacks made of canvas. Gradually more substantial buildings were constructed as businesses were established. Floods, fires and earthquakes have taken their toll on buildings over the years and many have been lost.