Mucking around in Murchison
1 September 2019
Star CamperCare clients Scotty and Linda decided to restructure their lives, declutter, rent a storage unit and see the world. After extensive travels overseas they are now travelling the length of NZ in their caravan. They decided to document their travels in a blog as a way to remember their experience and as a guide to other travellers. Recently they stopped by the little township of Murchison.
You would be forgiven if you thought that Murchison was just a great place to stop for a coffee on your way from Nelson to the West Coast, but there’s actually a lot to see here. Home to a permanent population of 500 residents it’s located in the Tasman Region of the South Island.
A Chequered History
Murchison did not come into being until gold was discovered in the area. The town was originally surveyed in 1865, under the name of Hampden. The grand old ‘The Hampden Hotel’ still holds the original name of the old town (1865-1882).
In 1929, Murchison was the epicentre of a massive earthquake. With an estimated magnitude of 7.8, it was felt throughout NZ. Apparently, the rumble was loud enough to be heard in New Plymouth. Seventeen people lost their lives, most of the deaths were as a result of landslides.
There are displays and information on the earthquake in the quirky little museum in the main township.
We love fossicking around Second-hand Shops! Not that we can hoard anything in our home on wheels! Dust and Rust will capture your interest as soon as you set eyes on it. Housed in the Commercial Stables building, which are the oldest remaining wooden stables in NZ, built in the 1890s. Prepare to be transported back in time with numerous vintage items for sale. From toys, music, instruments and machinery and much more. It is a retro and antique hunters heaven!
Aside from Dust and Rust, you can easily spend more time, wandering around two or three more small odds and sods type shops, second-hand book shops and Op Shops
Lyell and the Old Ghost Road
If you travel 34km from Murchison, you will come across the site of the historic gold-rush town of Lyell. There is an easily accessible grassed campsite. When gold mining faltered around 1900, Lyell died too.
A popular 85km bike trail starts here, but there are also two shorter walks which start at the car park. You immediately walk over a suspension bridge and pass the former Catholic Church site, entering the native forest, following a steep hillside. This leads to one of the picturesque goldfield cemeteries.
Just another 10 minutes further along the track, we came to Maori Bar (aptly named seem Maori were the first to discover gold in this area). This was the site of the first gold strike in 1862. There is a tunnel which miners drove through solid rock to divert the creek to make the mining a little easier. Continuing on for another couple of kilometres, we crossed the creek at the junction to the Old Ghost Road and continued on to the Croesus Battery.
A drive of 22km along SH65 from Murchison and you will find the powerful Maruia Falls which were created after then 1929 earthquake when a massive landslide up the valley diverted the river. It’s an easy 5 minute walk from the carpark.
Six Mile Walk
Just a short 10km from Murchison is the Six Mile Walk. This is the site of the first hydro-electric power station built in NZ. The return track takes around 1.5hrs and starts/finishes at the old Six Mile Hydro-Power Station by Six Mile Creek Bridge. The hydro scheme opened in 1922 and provided power to Murchison and homesteads in the Six Mile Valley. It operated for 54 years before it was deemed uneconomical and closed in 1975.
To read more about Murchison or the travels of Scotty and Linda, check out their blog: