March 21 Buller Gorge (Day 176)

This morning we set off on the beginning of our trip back to Auckland. We left the west coast and headed inland through the Buller Gorge where the Buller river (Kawatiri in Maori, meaning “deep & swift”) is squeezed between hard gold-bearing rock. This area experienced the biggest most lucrative gold rush in the 1860’s! [A great story & history of the area can be found on the link above]

A curve of the river butts against Hawk’s Crag, a massive rock bluff with the road carved into the rock!

Our destination today is the Buller Swingbridge Adventure Park! The longest swingbridge in New Zealand!

With an open grate floor, to see how far above the river (and rocks) you are!

The Buller river watershed is about 1.5 million acres and has the highest flood flows of any river in NZ! The bridge is about 62 feet above the river normally, but in July 2021 the flooded river was only 3 feet below the swingbridge, completely submerging the entire bank you see in the picture! There are trails to hike on the peninsula, showcasing the gold-mining history and the earthquake uplift from the 1929 earthquake that basically ended the gold mining era. They also have a zipline!

We opted for the “Supaman” ride, where you lay on your stomach and fly like SuperMan!

My turn!

After that excitement we hiked through the regenerating native forest of beech trees and tree ferns to the small Akiri waterfall and saw some rafters. The river has become a kayak/rafting mecca that is world renown! We then headed into the small town of Murchison, the gateway to the Buller Gorge and all the adventures it holds!

We stayed at the century old Hampden Hotel, with a balcony overlooking the busy corner with a new “Abbey Road” style crosswalk!

We took a walk around town, to the Museum and the old Hodgsons Hardware Store, where the proprietors helped us package and ship our NZ souvenirs back to the States. We found a nice little cafe for dinner.

A delicious pizza, and we mentioned we like hot sauce and we were brought a variety of locally made hot sauces that were the best we’ve tasted in NZ!

We would recommend a visit to Murchison for anyone interested in beautiful surroundings and exciting NZ adventures!

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