Until the 1950s Greymouth was a busy port, exporting high-quality bituminous coal around New Zealand in small colliers (coal ships). The coal was transported by rail from the mines to the port, and then loaded onto the colliers. Boats could only arrive and depart at high tide, and only relatively small boats could use the river port. In the 21st century Greymouth coal is railed to Lyttelton, almost all for export.
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