Stretching 169km from its source at Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park to its mouth at Westport, the Buller River’s blue-green waters reflect sunlight dappled through riverside beech forests as they swirl through one of the grandest of New Zealand’s river gorges. The Maori name for the Buller is Kawatiri, meaning “deep and swift”, qualities which lure rafters to several stretches. Gold was discovered along the Buller in 1858, sparking a gold rush centred on Lyell, now a ghost town whose outlying remains can be visited on the Lyell Walkway.
The Buller lies between the Lyell and Brunner ranges, and is traced by SH6 from Kawatiri Junction to Westport through Inangahua Junction, where Greymouth-bound travellers turn south towards Reefton. From Reefton, SH7 hugs the Grey River, a far less dramatic watercourse, as it flows through a wide valley to the east of the granite tops of the Paparoa Range past more evidence of the gold and coal industries, principally at Blackball and the Brunner Industrial Site.