It enters the Indian Ocean on the Southern Coast of Africa and 34 km south-west of Mossel Bay. The exact origin of the name cannot be stated with certainty. G. M. Theal mentions Hieronimus Cruse, -who first crossed it from East to West in 1667 after he had gone by sea to Mossel Bay. Cruse found there a Hottentot tribe, the Gouriquas, after whom he named it. C. Pettman says that the Hottentot -word means 'dirty'. Before the exploration of the coast by the Netherlanders the Portuguese had, in the Martellus map of 1489, indicated a river roughly where the Gouritsrivier is. On the map it appears as Rio della Vache, which in Portuguese is 'Rio das Vaccas' (the river of the cows). It is generally accepted that after the voyage of Bartholomew Dias it was named; 'Rio dos Vaqueiros' (river of the cow-herds).
The whole system, which is shaped like a deltoid leaf, consists of a number of Rivers, which emerge from the encompassing Mountains, usually through spectacular Passes. They then then unite to form one River near the Coast. Only the lower 129 km is named: 'Gouritsrivier'. The drainage area is 44 000 sq km, 370 km wide from East to West and only 257 km long from North to South. The most important branches of the system are the Buffalo River from the West -with its main tributary the Touws River, together forming the Groot River, which joins the main stream 85 km from the Sea.
The entire drainage area is Karoo country -with the exception of the Outeniqua Mountains and a strip lying to the South of them. The rainfall is from 102 to 305 mm except on some of the high Mountains -the Swartberg Range and the Outeniqua Mountains - where it rises to over 1 000 mm. The run-off is generally low and is sharply divided between the small but very important perennial flows from numerous Mountain Streams, and the occasional big floods, which are sometimes very destructive. There is no irrigation from the main stream, which has cut so deep a channel that water cannot be economically taken from it. The national road between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth crosses the River 34 km West of Mossel Bay on one of the longest (219 metres) and highest (61 metres) bridges in South Africa, built in 1892. Construction of a new double-laned road bridge to replace the old bridge was begun during 1972. The railway line between Riversdale arid Mossel Bay was opened in 1906 and crossed the river by the same bridge, but a new railway bridge was built in 1931. D. F. Kokot
The bridge swing and bungy have been stopped during 2009 due to the unsafe bridge structure. Bloukrans River Bridge is the alternative Bungi Jumping spot.