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511 State Highway 6,

Coal Creek, Greymouth

0800 669 372

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Brunner Minesite

Located in Greymouth

Discover the history behind the a tragic mining disaster, still considered New Zealand's worst workplace accident site.

Devastating Tragedy

Discover the history behind the a tragic mining disaster, still considered New Zealand's worst workplace accident site. 

 

This event would significantly mark this town and the hearts of the community of Greymouth for generations.

 

In the1960s coal was a major source of energy, vital to powering steam engines for factories and transport as well as home heating. Continuous coal production was of the upmost importance to the prosperity of the nation.

Dangerous conditions

In 1896 the Brunner mine was a big producer of exceptionally high-quality coal, bricks and coke (a refined fuel). 


But this came at a price. Underground, coal miners endured hard and unsafe working conditions.

Dangers that were faced and poorly addressed included lung disease, rock falls, poisonous gas and explosive gas.

When disaster stuck

On the early morning of 26 March 1896, mine workers tried three times to coax a team of pit ponies (horses used to pull coal wagons) into the mine. Each time the horses got close to the mine entrance they reared and kicked and raced back to the stables. They finally entered the mine once they were blindfolded and lead in backwards. 

At 9.30 am a loud explosion from deep in the mine stopped everyone in their tracks. A flame roared out of the mine entrance, followed by a column of choking smoke. In that instant 65 men lost their lives, 42 women lost their husbands and 112 children lost their fathers. Nothing below the surface, including the pit ponies, survived.

What's to Blame?

The miners believed the cause of the explosion was ineffective ventilation. A Government enquiry unfairly blamed the disaster on a negligent worker. 

In the decades that followed, Brunner and subsequent mine disasters spurred significant changes in our society.

These changes included stronger unions to give a workers’ voice, political parties that better supported workers, and improved safety legislation.

Things to Know

Distance - 2 km Loop​

Difficulty - Easy

Restrictions - No dogs

Price - FREE

Getting There

The Brunner Mine site is 11 km east of Greymouth on SH7 and the main carpark is on SH7. It can also be accessed from Taylorville Road which runs between SH6 (2 km north of Greymouth Bridge) and SH7 but parking is limited. Walk across the Brunner Bridge to access both sides of the river.

Multi-Day Adventures on the West Coast

SCENIC & ADVENURE

2 Days - Private Guided Tour

Price Includes:

  • TranzApline Train Ride,

  • Guided Tour with On Yer Bike Adventures!

  • 1 Night Accommodation

  • Detailed Itinerary

  • Full Customer Support

From:

$404

$739

Price is per person based on Twin Share Price

EXPERIENCE & DISCOVERY

3 Days - Self-Drive 

Price Includes:

  • TranzApline Train Ride,

  • Guided Tour with On Yer Bike Adventures!

  • 2 Nights Accommodation

  • 2 Day Rental Car Hire

  • Day Pass into Shantytown

  • Detailed Itinerary

  • Full Customer Support

From:

$612

$1018

Price is per person based on Twin Share Price

FUN & TRANQUILITY

4 Days - Self-Drive 

Price Includes:

  • TranzApline Train Ride,

  • Guided Tour with On Yer Bike Adventures!

  • 2 Nights Accommodation Greymouth

  • 1 Night Accommodation in Punakaiki

  • 3 Day Rental Car Hire

  • Day Pass into Shantytown

  • Detailed Itinerary

  • Full Customer Support

From:

$744

$1232

Price is per person based on Twin Share Price