Greymouth and mining

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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Greymouth
August 17th 2016
Published: August 18th 2016
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Murchison to Hokitika has a choice of 2 routes, via the coast road and Westport or through Reefton and the inland. Either way you get to go through Greymouth which is the largest city on the west coast. And home to Maccas and quite fast wifi.
The road takes you initially along the Buller Gorge and at times we were 60metres above the river, sheer cliffs down to a fast flowing green river. Hard to think that the early explorers came through here in the early 1800's equipped with only a few Maori guides and the ability to live off the land. Many accidents occur along this stretch of road, the Murchison rural fire brigade gets called 2-3 times a week in the summer to attend to motor accidents. Coming into Greymouth you come into coal mining territory. Not many mines are working now, but in the 1800's and 1900's there were many working underground mine and open cast mines, and because of the amount of methane gas (CH4) emitted in this particular area there has been an enormous loss of lives in many mines, the latest was Pike River November 2010. A must see stop is the Brunner Mine Historical site, which is on the right just before you come to Greymouth. Loads of parking, costs nothing. The first thing you see on the right, on the road side of the river, is the Tyneside chimney which was built in 1904 to act as a draft for the pottery and brick works. A suspension bridge across the river and information plaques tell the story of the discovery of the coal seam, the start of the mining, the coking industry, the brickworks, and the mine disaster in 1896 which killed 65 men, boys and horses. Easy walking paths take you around each part of site, and at the top of the river side of the site is a memorial to all the miners who have died in the many disasters as well as the solo deaths that also occur. Walking paths including the suspension bridge take you around each area. Very sobering.

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