Buller Gorge Swingbridge
The General History of the Buller Gorge
Lyell Township

When a pair of Maori prospectors found gold in Lyell creek in late 1862, they sparked off some of the richest discoveries in New Zealand mining history. Despite the steep hillside, the town grew rapidly to meet the demands of miners and their families. By 1873 there were six hotels, three stores, one drapery and ironmonger store, three butchers, one baker, two bootmakers, two agency offices, a blacksmith shop and a school.

Faliure of the town's water supply was a cruel blow in 1896 when 18 of Lyell's buildings burned down. Only a few businesses were rebuilt as by then the easy gold had been won. The last mine to close was the New Alpine in 1913. The town's last building, the Post Office Hotel, burned down in 1963.

A photograph of Lyell town in the late 1800's

Brunner's Memorial

In 1847 Thomas Brunner made an exploration of the Buller and the West Coast with Maori guides Kehu and Pikewate and the guides wives. Soon abandoned, Kehu and Brunner continued alone, travelling a total of 550 days and suffering hunger and sickness during the epic journey.
Thomas Brunner