Don’t Miss These Fun Things To Do In Murchison New Zealand

Murchison, a small town in New Zealand’s South Island, is often passed through on the way to or from the West Coast. With natural wonders, outdoor adventures, and captivating landscapes, Murchison offers more than just a lunch stop. Please keep reading to discover the highlights of Murchison and fun things to do in Murchison New Zealand. We will also let you know how to get there and where to stay.

Murchison New Zealand multicoloured street art mural with wildlife including a big owl and a kayaker.

What Is Murchison Best Known For?

Nestled amidst the South Island’s picturesque beauty, Murchison is primarily renowned as the ‘Whitewater Capital of New Zealand.’ With its abundance of pristine rivers and stunning landscapes, Murchison offers a unique Kiwi experience, including rafting, canoeing, and kayaking adventures. It’s a haven for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Fun Things To Do In Murchison New Zealand

Buller River surrounded by bush in Murchison New Zealand
Buller River, Murchison

Buller Gorge Swingbridge Adventure and Heritage Park

The Murchison swing bridge is one of the Buller region’s iconic landmarks and a Murchison Must Do. Suspended high above the Buller River, it provides a thrilling experience. It’s the longest swing bridge in New Zealand and offers breathtaking panoramic gorge views. 

Buller Gorge Swingbridge Adventure and Heritage Park also offers other thrilling things to do in Murchison, including zip lining, jet boat rides, nature walks and gold panning.

Murchison White Water Rafting

Murchison isn’t known as the Whitewater Capital for nothing. The Buller River and Matakitaki River offer some of the best whitewater rafting experiences in the country. 

Thrill-seekers can go on an exhilarating adventure, navigating the rapids and enjoying the scenic beauty.

Maruia Falls

Nature lovers won’t want to miss this Murchison waterfall. Maruia Falls, formed after the 1929 earthquake, is surrounded by lush forest.

For those with limited time to stop, one of the best things to do in Murchison NZ is the short walk to the enchanting Maruia Falls, which takes under 10 minutes. 

Swimming in the falls is not recommended; however, they provide Instagram-worthy photos.

READ NEXT – The Best Nelson Tasman Activities & Attractions

Murchison District Museum

We find it compelling that such a small town has a museum! It houses a treasure trove of artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of this charming town. It’s a fascinating journey through time, offering insights into Murchison’s gold mining and agricultural past.

For those interested in delving into West Coast history, the Murchison Museum is one of those must-visit Murchison tourist attractions. 

Murchison District Museum timber building exterior
Murchison District Museum is a must-visit Murchison tourist attraction for history lovers, and one of the coolest things to do in Murchison NZ.

The Natural Flames Experience

If you’re wondering what to do in Murchison New Zealand, that’s unique and exciting, we suggest visiting the perpetually burning flames on a guided tour through the New Zealand bush.

It is an extraordinary experience that takes you on a 4WD tour into the heart of the bush to witness a fire that never goes out. 

Gold Fossicking

Gold fossicking can also be a great option if you are looking for unique things to do in Murchison. 

There are numerous gold fossicking areas in the West Coast region where you don’t need a permit.

Lyell Creek, which is just a 30-minute drive from Murchison towards Westport, is one such area. 

You can try your luck at finding specks of gold in the creek, but it’s important to note that only hand tools are permitted. 

In addition to gold fossicking, there is a campground, on the site of a historic gold rush town. There are several excellent short walks, including one that leads to the historic cemetery.

Nature Walks

Murchison serves as a southern entrance to Kahurangi National Park, New Zealand’s second largest park. It is a paradise for nature enthusiasts, with nature walks ranging from 10 minutes to several days.

Whether you take the short 20-minute Kahikatea Walk or the full-day walk on Lake Matiri Track, you’ll be surrounded by lush forests and serene landscapes.

Travel Insider Tip: During the summer, the West Coast, including Murchison, is known to have a high population of sandflies. Be prepared with insect repellant before you get out of your vehicle.

St. Paul Anglican Church

St. Paul Anglican Church is a notable landmark in Murchison if you love visiting churches on your travels. This charming church, built in 1905, is a testament to the town’s historical significance. Take a moment to appreciate its architecture and beauty.

St. Paul Anglican Church in Murchison
St. Paul Anglican Church, Murchison

Murchison Shops

Murchison is a small town; however, you will find a baker, butcher and a small Four Square supermarket. The town also has several cafes, a petrol station and a pub. There is also a New Zealand Greenstone Pounamu gallery. 

Two distinct shops are particularly noteworthy.

Hodgsons of Murchison General Store

​Hodgsons of Murchison is not your average general store! The store has been serving the local community for over 100 years.

Step back to the past and encounter a general store as it used to be, complete with high shelves, roller ladders and photos of residents taken over 80 years ago!

Located in a historical heritage building, you can also stock up on groceries, gardening, camping, and hardware supplies. 

Somebody’s Treasure

The other noteworthy Murchison shop is Somebody’s Treasure. We absolutely love this jam-packed antiques and collectables store. 

Murchison’s op shop and antique furniture store offers a unique opportunity to find second-hand items and vintage treasures that tell stories of days gone and relics from the past. 

We make sure to stop and look through the vintage treasures every time we go past. It’s one of the more fascinating things to do in Murchison NZ.

READ NEXT – Best Attractions on the West Coast South Island New Zealand.

Best Murchison Food & Places to Eat

The Cow Shed Murchison

After a day of adventure, satisfy your hunger at The Cow Shed. It’s a local favourite known for its hearty portions and friendly atmosphere. 

What we like the most is that they offer outdoor seating in a garden setting and a full bar menu, including craft beers.

Their specialty is their pizzas, and you can even build your own. They also have a seasonal menu with tapas.

Rivers Cafe

Rivers Cafe is another local favourite Murchison cafe. They serve delectable breakfast and lunch options, including vegetarian and gluten-free choices. 

Additionally, the gorgeous wooden seating, timber interiors and quaint decor make it a cozy place to eat lunch. Plus, they have outdoor seating.

We’ve had their pies, scones and coffee and are impressed with both the food and the ambience.

We saw a couple having a burger and fish and chips; they looked so good that we got food envy. It’s one of the things to do in Murchison that we will do next time.

The front of the green building of Rivers Cafe, Murchison
Rivers Cafe, Murchison

How To Get To Murchison

Murchison is accessible from various South Island cities. One of the best things to do in Murchison, New Zealand, is the road trip getting there.

  • Nelson to Murchison is approximately a 2-hour drive. You can follow State Highway 6 for a scenic journey through the Tasman region.
  • Murchison to Blenheim is about a 2.5-hour drive. Take State Highway 63 for a scenic route through the Marlborough region.
  • Christchurch to Murchison is around a 4-hour drive via State Highway 7. Prepare for a beautiful drive through the Canterbury plains and alpine scenery.
  • Westport to Murchison is a 2-hour drive. The scenic drive through the forest is one of our favourite road trips in New Zealand.

Accommodation Murchison South Island NZ   

Murchison New Zealand accommodation is diverse to suit individual preferences. There are bed and breakfasts, motels, backpackers and the local pub. There are also several campgrounds, including the Murchison Motorhome Park and the Kiwi Park Murchison.  

We have two Murchison accommodation favourites.

Riverside Holiday Park Murchison New Zealand

Riverside Holiday Park Murchison has you covered whether you prefer a cozy cabin, a campsite, or parking your motorhome right on the water’s edge of the Buller River.

Due to its stunning location, it is our favourite budget option in Murchison and also one of the most fun Murchison things to do. After a rain, you will likely witness the river roaring in all its glory.

The holiday park is a tranquil nature escape at most times of the year and comes alive during school holidays.

A green cabin on the bank of the Buller River at Riverside Holiday Park, Murchison.
One of the cabins on the bank of the Buller River at Riverside Holiday Park, Murchison.

Grand Suites Murchison, New Zealand

Grand Suites Murchison offer brand-new, luxury motel rooms for those seeking indulgence and comfort. It’s the perfect place to unwind after a day of exploration.

We recommend them as their purposely built accommodation is brand new. And who doesn’t want a brand-new room? They’ve already won the 2023 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Award!

The Grand Suites Murchison sign and accommodation buildings.
The newest accommodation Murchison Grand Suites.

Travel Insider Tip: There are not many petrol stations in these parts, so make sure to stock up beforehand and top up in Murchison if needed.

Is Murchison Worth Visiting?

Murchison, with its adrenaline-pumping adventures, breathtaking landscapes, and warm hospitality, is a Kiwi destination that should not be missed. 

Whether you’re swinging over the Buller Gorge, marvelling at Maruia Falls, or savouring local flavours at a local cafe, there are many cool things to do in Murchison that promise a lovely experience.

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