Plunge wild and free along the length of the mighty Buller River, feeling the rush of the wind through your hair and the rush of adrenaline through your veins. A mind-blowing 40 minutes on board the Buller Canyon Jet will have you carving through pink granite rock canyons, bouncing over rippling rapids and spinning around a full 360 degrees. With gorgeous mountain scenery, native beech forest and picturesque waterfalls surrounding you, there’s nothing quite like a journey down the majestic and unspoiled Buller Gorge.
Photo: Buller Canyon Jet
2. Go on a whitewater rafting adventure
Known as the white-water capital of New Zealand, Murchison’s ‘four rivers plain’ is the perfect place to ride along the cascading river rapids and drift through the crystal-clear pools of the Buller Canyon. Ultimate Descents offer a range of unforgettable white-water experiences, from gentle family rafting and fun wave trains, right through to extreme adventures crossing over undulating passages and rocky riverbeds. The grandeur of the Buller Canyon and the stunning natural landscapes that surround it exemplify the feeling of exhilaration you feel when rolling down the river.
3. Cross New Zealand's longest swingbridge
There’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained at the Buller Gorge Adventure and Heritage Park, from gold panning and nature walks right through to activities that really get the heart pumping. Walk the heights of New Zealand’s longest swing bridge above the pristine flowing river below, or step out of your comfort zone and strap into the Cometwire, zipping 160m across the Buller at full speed.
4. Visit the Maruia Falls
The captivating Maruia Falls were formed as a result of the 1929 Murchison earthquake, which caused a landslide in the Maruia Valley and diverted the course of the Maruia River, forcing it to cut a new channel over an old river bank. The 10 metre falls are easily accessible from SH65 and are only a short 5-minute walk from the roadside carpark. Able to be heard before they are seen, the sound of water plummeting into the deep pools below provide forewarning of the majestic waterfall that awaits at the base of the track. The rocky open riverbed provides an unobstructed view of one of New Zealand’s must-see waterfalls, distant enough to appreciate it in its full glory, but close enough to feel the lashings of river spray on your cheeks.
5. Try your luck at gold panning
Murchison is a historic gold rush town, and as you journey through the township, you’ll discover many buildings still in their original form from the late 1800’s, despite the town almost being destroyed by a large earthquake in 1929. In an ode to it’s gold mining past, there are plenty of opportunities throughout your stay to learn about Murchison’s unique history, whether that’s through a visit to the District Museum, or a gold panning tutorial at the Buller Gorge Adventure & Heritage Park. Or, if you’re feeling lucky, you may choose to pave your own way to unearthing the hidden treasures in the town’s extraordinary river environment, using a gold pan and shovel from the local Information Centre.
6. See the natural forest flames
The saying “nothing worth seeing is ever found easily” springs to mind when traversing the rocky terrain by 4WD in the remote Murchison backcountry, only to reach what is quite possibly the only place you will ever find flames burning on the floor of a forest without causing a forest fire. This four-hour tour will take you through a magical woodland, full of ancient mosses and native canopy’s, the only sound being the soft birdsong ringing from the treetops. Eventually, you’ll reach the natural flames, flickering gently on the forest floor, as though awaiting your arrival. Then, be treated to an afternoon treat of hot tea and pancakes, courtesy of the heated soils in the Murchison back country.
Photo: Natural Flames Murchison
7. Get knee deep in fly-fishing paradise
We truly mean it when we say that Murchison is every anglers dream, with the Buller and its tributaries offering some of the country’s finest fly fishingenvironments. From the Owen to the Mangles, the Gowan to the Matiri, and the Ohikanui to the Matakitaki, the pristine flowing rivers that weave their way through the Murchison district are home to a plentiful supply of brown trout. Whether you choose to seek out your own adventure, or join in with a guide from one of the luxury fly fishing lodges dotted along the riverbank, you won’t find the same combination of spectacular scenery and gin clear waters anywhere else in the country.
Photo: Owen River Lodge
8. Visit the District Museum
If you want to learn about the interesting past of this historic gold rush town, the District Museum is the place to go. With a range of family friendly exhibits and photographic displays, the museum provides insight into Murchison’s colourful history. From written accounts of the devastation caused by the 1929 Murchison Earthquake, a natural phenomenon that almost wiped out the whole town, to the static displays of early agricultural, goldmilling and sawmilling machinery, the stories and treasures the small town beholds are just waiting to be discovered.
9. Go on a scenic heli-adventure
Imagine sitting next to a pilot in the cockpit of your own private helicopter, gazing out the window at the stunning natural landscapes below, from breath-taking braided rivers to lush native bush and undulating mountain ranges. A heli-adventure with Murchison Heli Tours or Helicopters Nelson combines the panoramic vistas our region is renowned for with some thrilling white-water action, in a tasting platter guaranteed to sweep you off your feet. When you land in Murchison, you’ll feel the rush of adrenaline as you carve through the pink-granite canyons of the mighty Buller River by jetboat, before experiencing the unparalleled beauty of the Kahurangi National Park on your way home, landing upon one of the picturesque mountains nestled in the untracked wilderness of the national park.
Photo: Reid Helicopters
10. Cycle the Old Ghost Road
A place of rural charm, gold mining heritage and stunning natural landscapes, the Old Ghost Road is a popular mountain biking and tramping trail, connecting the Lyell (Upper Buller Gorge) with the Mokihinui River in the West Coast. Stretching a whopping 85km over mountainous valleys and through rushing rivers, the trail is certainly not for the faint-hearted, but promises breath-taking views of open tussock tops, weaving rivers and lush native forest.