Lake Brunner



  • Visit Shantytown colonial village, 3 hours

  • Caving expedition, 3 hours

  • Quad biking, 2 hours

  • White water rafting, half day

  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, 30 mins drive away

Drive Times

Greymouth – Moana, 20 minutes
Christchurch – Moana, 4 hours
Franz Josef – Moana, 2 hours

Lake Brunner Population: 500
Region: Westland

The township of Moana on the shores of Lake Brunner is just 20 minutes drive from Greymouth, the gateway to the West Coast of the South Island.  Small and quiet, this is a peaceful haven for fishing and relaxing, and a great stopping off point en route from Christchurch to the glacier region.  Lake Brunner has some of the best brown trout fishing in the South Island with year round fishing on the lake and some rivers.  Moana also has a world renowned working pottery making domestic and sculptural works, both salt glazed and coal fired.

History and Culture

The Grey River has an ancient history.  It was the landing place for Maori canoes visiting in search of Pounamu, the green jade that was Westland’s most prized possession.  The Grey River gap also has great significance in Maori myth.  From a distance the hills that border the area are seen as two giant Tuatara drinking from the waters.  This indicates great power and sacredness, as the Tuatara, a remnant of the dinosaur era, still shows the markings of a third eye.  This signifies it is a guardian of all knowledge and the keeper of the trail of the spirit back to the stars.  Ngai Tahu (the local iwi or tribe) tradition further enriches the mystique as it tells us that the river gap was created by a great ancestor who pulled down the sides of the canoe to allow ponded water to escape into the sea, saving the South Island from swamping.
Pounamu or Greenstone was the great treasure of this region.  It was collected here for many centuries and fashioned into tools and jewellery, fought over and highly prized by its owners.  Pa Roa (now named Greymouth) means “place of long settlement”.  It has long been the centre for the creation of a sophisticated stone working industry that provided the nation with raw material and superb, sharp edged wood working tools harder than metal
In the 1860’s gold brought prospectors to the region leading to the creation of a passable coach route from the East Coast via Arthur’s Pass.  The major influx of settlers arrived between 1864 and 1867 boosting the West Coast population from 250 to 26,000 in the three years of gold booms.  The discovery of coal deposits during the same decade lead to the establishment of a more stable and ongoing industry in coal mining.  From 1867 the coal mining industry began in earnest and by 1895 Denniston in the north had become the largest coal producer in the country.  Reefton, originally Quartzopolis, was the first location in the Southern Hemisphere to have a public electricity system in 1888.
Coal is still mined to this day in a much scaled down operation.  The main industries in modern times are forestry, farming, fishing and tourism. 

For more information about Lake Brunner and the region click through to our Discover New Zealand West Coast Region section

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