Murchison, New Zealand

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Rural centre
Aerial view of Murchison in 1978
Aerial view of Murchison in 1978
Murchison is located in New Zealand
Coordinates: 41°48′S 172°20′E / 41.800°S 172.333°E / -41.800; 172.333Coordinates: 41°48′S 172°20′E / 41.800°S 172.333°E / -41.800; 172.333
Country New Zealand
Region Tasman
Territorial authority Tasman District

Murchison is a town in the Tasman Region of the South Island of New Zealand. It is near the western end of the "Four Rivers Plain", at the confluence of the Buller River and the Matakitaki River. The other two rivers are the Mangles River, and the Matiri River. It is a rural service town for the surrounding mixed farming district, on New Zealand State Highway 6 approximately halfway between Westport and Nelson. Murchison was named after the Scottish geologist Roderick Murchison, one of the founders of the Royal Geographical Society.[1] At the 2013 census, Murchison had a population of 492.[2]


Commemorative plaque for the 1905 Murchison suicide attack

The discovery of gold led to the settlement of Murchison, and the town was surveyed in 1865. The town was called Hampden until 1882, when its name was altered to Murchison to avoid confusion with another place of the same name in North Otago.[3] Murchison was the epicentre of the 1929 Murchison earthquake (also known as the Buller earthquake).

The 19th century Hampden Hotel on the main street of Murchison. The hotel's name recalls the town's earlier name of Hampden.

The world's earliest non-military suicide attack is believed to have occurred in Murchison on 14 July 1905. A long-standing dispute between two farmers resulted in a court case, and the defendant (Joseph Sewell) had sticks of gelignite strapped to his body. When Sewell excitedly shouted during the court sitting, "I'll blow the devil to hell, and I have enough dynamite to do just that", he was ushered out of the building. Sewell detonated the charge when a police officer tried to arrest him on the street, and his body was blown to pieces; no one else died from the explosion.[4][5]


Whitewater sports are a popular tourist attraction in Murchison. Nearby rivers include the Gowan River, Mangles River, Matiri River, Glenroy River, Matakitaki River, Maruia River, and the Buller. These rivers vary from Class 2 to 4 whitewater. Kahurangi and Nelson Lakes National Parks are nearby, as well as Lake Matiri and Mount Owen.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "Murchison". Retrieved 8 February 2016. 
  2. ^ "2013 Census QuickStats about a place". Retrieved 2018-08-19. 
  3. ^ Walrond, Carl (22 April 2015). "Nelson places – Upper Buller River valley". Te Ara – the encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  4. ^ Hindmarsh, Gerard (16 January 2016). "NZ suicide bombing a world first". The Press. p. A13. Retrieved 17 January 2016. 
  5. ^ "The Murchison Tragedy". Nelson Evening Mail. XL. 15 July 1905. p. 2. Retrieved 17 January 2016. 
  6. ^ Staff, Newstalk ZB. "Annette King 'How did a girl from Murchison end up here'". Retrieved 2018-08-19. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Murchison, New Zealand at Wikimedia Commons