Murchison calls itself the ‘whitewater capital’ of the country, because there are rivers everywhere – the Gowan, Mangles, Matiri, Glenroy, Matakitaki, Maruia and the mighty Buller. For anybody into canoeing or kayaking, it’s a dream come true. The rivers vary from Class 2 to 4 whitewater, so they’re not for the faint hearted. Rafting, jet boating, gold panning and fishing are other ways to enjoy the river environment. There are several excellent mountain bike trails in the area; hire bikes are available. Originally a gold rush town, Murchison was almost completely destroyed by a huge earthquake in 1929 – you can find out all about it at the district museum. Functional facts: Approx. population 500, information centre, basic shops, cafés.