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A Side Trip to Lake Brunner

Lake Brunner and the little township of Moana, situated on its northern shore, lie 30 minutes east of Greymouth. It's a peaceful, scenic diversion serviced by both the TranzAlpine train and a daily shuttle bus - and, I regret to say, great clouds of greedy sand flies that you'll spend time swatting away. Access by road is via Arthur's Pass or Lewis Pass, which makes it a good stopover point if you're heading north or south.

The lake and surrounding rivers have some of the best trout fishing in the South Island. The prime time for fishing is between October and April. The Greymouth i-SITE Visitor Centre has a big list of guides and will point you in the right direction for the best spots. Just make sure you get a license first.

If you find the tranquil nature of this location appealing and you decide to stay over, you'll find a motel complex, a motor camp, and the old Moana Hotel, Ahau Street, Moana (www.moanahotelmotel.co.nz; tel. 03/738-0388), which offers inexpensive motel/hotel rooms and cabins. If you prefer a more upmarket option, stay at Lake Brunner Lodge, Mitchells, RD1, Kumara, Westland (www.lakebrunner.co.nz; tel./fax 03/738-0163), on the unpopulated side of the lake. It has 11 rooms and has recently been upgraded. Rates run from NZ$320 to NZ$475, and a five-course dinner costs NZ$120 per person. It's looking very smart, and it's a great hit with fishermen.

Dining out is a little more limited. Your best option is Stationhouse Café, 40 Koe St., Moana (tel. 03/738-0158; www.lakebrunner.net), where pastas, steaks, and roast lamb range from NZ$16 to NZ$30. It's a pretty setting overlooking tiny Moana Railway Station and the lake, but a trifle overpriced and you have to take the service as you find it. It's open daily from 9:30am (10:30am in winter) until late.

En Route to Hokitika

This 45km (28-mile), 30-minute drive south follows the coastline closely along mostly flat farmland. Nothing too inspiring, but there are hints of the Southern Alps that await when you turn away from the Tasman Sea farther south. About 30km (20 miles) from Greymouth, you'll cross the Arahura River, where Maori found huge supplies of greenstone.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.