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Stage 457 – Eight Mile Hill to Murchison

Wow, this is a stage and a half. If you were to ignore the bit between miles fifteen and seventeen, you’d be looking at four hundred feet up and three hundred feet down. However at sixteen miles sits the town of Murchison and State Highway 6 descends two hundred feet into town before climbing those same two hundred feet (and more) to get back out again. But we’ll come back to that later.

The road rolls out heading east in the shadow of Eight Mile Hill and for the first five miles, Interstate Route 6 and the Buller River run side by side through the valley, engulfed by mountains north and south. There’s precious little climbing in the early miles, and even the hundred foot climb up to the junction of the Shenandoah (Route 65) Highway at nine miles is not particularly taxing. Route 6 crosses the Buller River immediately before the junction.

From the Shenandoah Highway turn, Route 6 begins a gentle descent that takes in a sweeping right hander at ten miles that hugs the ridge of the mountain to the south: to the north, meanwhile, the flood plain opens up as the river comes round the corner and in virtually no time at all, the hills to the north are a mile away from the road.

The descent continues, with the road snaking one way then the other, all the way to Murchison Airport at fifteen miles, and it’s there that the mad descent begins, the road crossing the Matakitaki River on the way into town. The descent bottoms out at the left hander where the road snakes left then right past Riverview Holiday Park and Murchison Golf Course on the way out of town: all of that is uphill.

But whereas the descent into Murchison was limited to two hundred feet, the climb back out knows no such bounds: it just keeps on going. The road swings left at eighteen miles, which is good news because north east is the right direction to be travelling in. Shortly after that bend, Mangles River crosses under the road to join the Buller River then the highway re-crosses the Buller River a mile further on.

Although the gradient levels out at twenty miles, it never feels completely flat and the road is still rising a tad as it passes Murchison Motorhome Park on the approach to the finish.

Distance: 22 miles / 35 kilometres

Ascent: 686 feet / 209 metres

RGT Magic Road: HSUerumKPYS8

Total distance: 21.43 mi
Max elevation: 842 ft
Min elevation: 477 ft
Total climbing: 685 ft
Total descent: -512 ft

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