Buller FestBuller Fest ….. NZ’s wildest, most inclusive kayaking festival!!  It’s 3 days of all things kayaking (plus nowadays a bit of SUP and rafting) and not to mention partying!

If you want to meet other kayakers, and discover the rivers around Murchison, this is the best time to go!

Adventurers can arrange everything you need to experience Buller Fest; as many days as you want guided kayaking on the numerous beautiful and exciting Murchison rivers (even get some practice in for the races!), boat rental, accommodation and transport.

The Friday competition is Boater X, where 4 kayakers race each other down a section of the Lower Mātakitaki, in order to get through to the next round and then onto the Semis and the Finals. And what’s great is that anyone confident on Grade 3 river can join in.

This year the weather was perfect, hot and sunny and you could feel the excitement as we all listened to Sophie for the race safety briefing. Bib’s are given out and the first of the male racers began to make for the start line. We watched eagerly from the rocks along the side of the Mātakitaki river, and listening to the hilarious commentary provided by Renata and trying not to get sun burnt.  Then before I knew it was my turn to race!

This was my first time competing at Buller Fest and I was a little nervous!! But it was super friendly at the start line and was such a cool run down the rapids, paddling as hard as I could for the top flat section of water and hoping not to get too entangled with the other 3 girls as we hit the rapids. Amazing I finished just managed to scrape 2nd in my race and qualify for the next round.

There was just enough time to see the second round of the men’s competition before heading back up for my second go. This time the competition was tough! The girls were quick as and unfortunately I missed out on the semi-finals finishing 3rd in the group.

However, this mean that I could enjoy the rest of the day relaxing, watching the racing as it progressed and got even more exciting! One of the highlights was meeting the dog that was part of the safety crew! He was so cool, and showed us all that he could quite happily navigate white water to get to his owner on the rock in the middle of the flow!

That evening the entertainment was in the Commercial Hotel in Murchison, a party in the pub, just a short walk from our accommodation! Lots of debauchery, dancing and beer drinking with fellow kayakers until the small hours.

The fresh air of Murchison helped us with a quick recovery on the Saturday morning, we decided to use this time for some more paddling on the Buller river. But it’s also great fun to take part or watch the Slalom events that take place on O’Sullivans rapid on the Buller. The Saturday also saw the first ever white water SUP race….which saw a few of the competitor’s balance skills tested! And it’s here that the Rafter X happens too, where 4 rafts race a section of the river for glory.

Saturday night is the big party night at the camp ground, with fancy dress (Retro this year!), live music on stage and great value Moa beer on tap.  The band One Waka from Canterbury filled the party with a cool reggae vibe and a few many beers were drunk by all!!

Sundays antics are more of a relaxed nature than we’ve seen the first two days and is all based in the campsite. I can highly recommend taking part in the novice SUP cup, even if you’re not all that familiar with SUP boarding, it’s just so much fun!! And this year it was made even more of a challenge with the added eating of a Weet-bix then downing a can of fizzy drink on arrival at the finish line! The group SUP was fantastic to watch from the river banks.

The whole weekend finished with a massive spot prize give away (there were some great prizes to be won here!), Throwing a throw-bag into a kayak cockpit competition to win a dry top and a mass rock, paper, scissors competition for a Kayak!!

Thanks to the team of organisers who are super dedicated to ensure that Buller Fest is efficiently organised and runs safely and smoothly. We’ll see you next year!!

Link to Adventurers Facebook Post of Buller Fest Video

Link to Wendy’s post on Adventurers FB page of Buller Fest

Author Adventurers Travel Company

I’m Rachel Howells, the owner and operator of Adventurers travel. I’m passionate about outdoor sports and activities, adventurous challenges – anything that involves the freedom and exhilaration of the great outdoors.

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