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White Creek Fault

Seventeen people died in the 1929 Murchison earthquake which occured in mid-winter and caused many spectacular slips, cut roads and dammed rivers. The quake, of magnitude 7.8, was centred under the White Creek Fault where the 4.5m uplift can still be clearly seen on the other side of the river.


During the June 17 quake the gorge reverberated with booming sounds and people found it impossible to stand as trees and boulders crashed around them. Families had to clamber over landslides and through thick mud to get to Murchison.

On the morning of the quake several men were working inside the Buller Diversion tunnel which possibly saved them from being buried in a landslide. The men set off for the Newton Flat school. The three White children were alive but had been caught in a landslide of rocks and mud that descended upon the school. If young Gertie had not grabbed her sister Doris who was trapped in rubble as they fled the building, the outcome would have been tragic.
The Buller Gorge Swingbridge

Evidence of gold claims is still to be found across the swingbridge on White’s Peninsula – stacked-stone tail races, mine shafts and rusty iron left by a sucession of miners.


White’s Creek Mining licenses have been issued for land around here since the 1860s and small-scale dredging for gold in the Buller River continues today. White’s Creek once boasted a small settlement of tents and shanties. The Newton Hotel (now the Newton Livery) would have provided a welcome night out to compare notes with those working the Newton Flat claims.

White’s Creek never grew to the settlement proportions of Lyell, rather it remained an alluvial mining shantytown as hopes held out for the big quartz lead that was never found. Renewed interest in the area surfaced during the late 1920s when gold rose in value. White’s Creek took on a new lease of life with The Buller Diversion Goldmining Company Ltd.

White Creek Post Office When the Nelson - Westport road was opened in 1876, a Post Office was set up in what was probably the only permanent building here. Three years later lack of demand forced closure but Postmaster George White reopened in 1882 without a salary, the year a regular coach and mail service was established. The Post Office operated until it was replaced by one at Newton Flat in 1899.

Steam Dredge Relic The relic sitting in the car park here at the Buller Gorge Swingbridge came from a steam dredge working at Fern Flat. A Fern Flat Proprietary dredge was wrecked in 1905 as it was carried away in flood waters. Some of the men escaped but manager Mr R Liddicoat and two others lost their lives.

Highway 6, Upper Buller Gorge, Box 77 Murchison, New Zealand
Phone (03) 523 9809 Fax (03)523 9807, Email: swingbridge@bullergorge.co.nz