Canvastown is a small settlement near the confluence of the Wakamarina and Pelorus Rivers. The settlement is so named, due to the massive influx of prospectors after the discovery of gold deposits in the Wakamarina River during the 19th Century. Prospectors arrived in number at short notice and the only form of accommodation for many was in tents. At the peak of the gold rush, the population grew to over 4,000 during 1864. The population at the 2013 Census for the surrounding area is about 130.
The gold rush days are long gone, although there are still some claims in the Wakamarina Valley, and gold specks can be found in the river from time to time. The historic Trout Hotel built in 1903 (The second hotel on the site) remains as a lasting legacy to the gold rush days, providing meals and accommodation, as well as basic camping facilities. A historic church is one of the few other remaining buildings from the boom period. There is a school with modern facilities.
Te Hora Marae is associated with Ngāti Kuia.
The surrounding area today supports dairy farming and forestry, with significant pine plantations in the Wakamarina Valley.
The Wakamarina Valley offers various recreational activities including mountain biking and tramping, as well as trout fishing, and in summer months swimming.