Upper South Island and the West Coast: Places to Explore

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Murchison

Surrounded by high mountains and roaring rivers, this small town is in some big country. With the Nelson Lakes National Park to the east, the Kahurangi National Park to the north, and the Matakitaki, Buller, Matiri, and Mangles rivers all converging on its doorstep, Murchison has gained the reputation as New Zealand's "white-water capital," and it boasts the most kayaked stretch of white water in the Southern Hemisphere. There are 13 rivers within 20 km (12½ mi) of town. Fly-fishers, kayakers, hikers, and rafters turn up every year to enjoy the sport. The first weekend in March brings over 500 devotees to Murchison for Buller Fest, a churning gathering of white-water junkies. Murchison residents still consider their landmark event "the earthquake," a major quake that hit in June 1929. The epicenter was nearby in the Buller Gorge, and the quake drastically altered the landscape. A second in 1968 (centered in nearby Inangahua) also rearranged the landscape considerably but was much less destructive in human terms. Although most operators now accept credit cards, there are no ATMs in town; so make sure you have some cash on you.

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