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 2008 Greymouth coal was railed to Lyttelton, and almost all is exported overseas.
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