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Local Activities and Recreation Opportunities

If you love the great outdoors, the area provides plenty of activity options from caving, tramping or mountaineering to hunting, horse trekking and fishing.

National Parks

The region is home to the Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi National Parks.  The Nelson
Lakes National Park protects 102,000 hectares of the northern most Southern Alps and offers tranquil beech forest, craggy mountains, clear streams and lakes both big and small.

Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes National Park

Kahurangi is one of New Zealand's newest and the second largest national park.  Translated its name has a number of meanings including "treasured possession", an apt description of its wonderfully diverse natural and recreational values.  The park lets you explore wild rivers, high plateaux and alpine herb fields, and coastal forests.


The Mount Owen region has some of the largest systems of underground caves in the southern hemisphere with examples of ice caves and ice speleothems.  The marble mountains contain all of New Zealand's deepest caves, as well as the three longest caves - Bulmer Cavern (66 km) at Mt Owen, Ellis Basin System (37 km), and Nettlebed Cave (24 km), both at Mt Arthur.

New passages are still being discovered and 2010 marked the 20th New Year expedition to Bulmer Cavern run by members of the New Zealand Speleological Society. These expeditions have become a tradition and have kept the exploration doggedly going through the years when the cave seemed to have come to an end.


The silvery sea-run brown trout is king in South Island waters.  The district has a heavy trout population, averaging just over 3 lb.  The Buller and Owen Rivers both carry good heads of fish, as do Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoroa.

Other Sporting Activities

Murchison is the "Whitewater Kayak Capital" of New Zealand and is in one of the best intermediate boating areas in the world - the Buller river catchment.

The New Zealand Kayak School is a friendly, kayaker-oriented operation based in Murchison. They run residential whitewater kayak courses for beginner, intermediate and advanced boaters.

Ultimate Descents in Murchison offer rafting and kayaking trips that will enable people from all walks of life to discover the adventure of whitewater river travel in a safe and enjoyable atmosphere.

Only short drive away from us is the nine hole Murchison Golf Course in a lovely setting on the bank of the Buller River and the Murchison Bowling club is not far.

The Buller Gorge is the home of NZ's longest swing bridge. You can take a fantastic jet boat ride there too, pan for gold then return across the river on a comet line!

The wide, uncrowded slopes of Rainbow Ski Area provide superb terrain for beginner and intermediates while advanced skiers can challenge themselves in the high powder runs and chutes. Boarders love the varied terrain, jumps, bumps and drops.

2010 Buller Festival

2010 Buller Festival

Since about 1994 the local and wider community with help from Ultimate Descents crew and other sponsors have been organising the Buller Festival and the annual events has continued to grow year after year. This year’s event is being held on the 5th, 6th and 7th of March. The Buller Festival headquarters are at the Murchison Community Centre.

5th March Events

The Kayak Boater Cross on the Matakitaki River
This exciting event pits 4 kayakers against each other at once in a race to finish a short grade 3 – 3+ section of river first in an elimination type format.

Presentation by Josh Neilson
A presentation by a top New Zealand Whitewater Kayaker Josh Neilson at the community centre

The “Welcome to Bullerfest” Party
The party to kick start the festivities with a live Music from local musician Sam at the Murchison community centre.

6th March Events

Kayak Slalom and Rafter Cross Event on the Bullet River
Set on O’Sullivans rapid on the Buller 10 minutes south of Murchison, the kayak slalom is an event that showcases a kayaker’s skill in manipulating their boat in challenging rapids. The raft-a-cross pits teams of rafters against one another in a race to the finish.

The ‘Rock the Buller’ Party
DJ’s OB One UK and Aunty Ethel and fun times in your brightest fluro getups at the UD’s base on Saturday night.

7th March

The Kayak Big Air
For those who dare, a ‘Big-Air’ ramp is built on the Buller just near Murchison, with the best tricks off the ramp winning the day. This is a spectacular event to watch.

Prize Giving
The time to acknowledge all the successes over the weekend and make a lot more people winners with plenty of spot prizes to give from our great sponsors. See the official Buller Festival web site for more details and registration information.