Multi-day trips in New Zealand - Mountain Buzz

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Old 11-23-2009   #1
Boulder, Colorado
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Multi-day trips in New Zealand

There are some great recommendations here (in the Buzz archives) for kayaking sections in NZ, but am wondering if anyone knows some good multi-day rafting trips. I'm going there for 2 months (Dec on South Island, Jan on North) and looking for some rivers to check out. I would especially like rivers where you don't have to deal much with guided trips and can instead rent a raft and go. Class III and IV preferred. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, Eric

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Old 11-23-2009   #2
Cisco, Utah
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Head to Murchison on the south island and talk to the outfitters there. There are a few 2 - 5 day, class 2/3 trips, Clarence, Waiau...

If you want a really unique experience the West Coast rivers are spectacular, and only accessed by helicopter. When I was down there the cost was cheap split 4 ways. Did a two day trip on the Landsboro which was nice and a one day trip on the Perth, which was the most spectacular little gorge I have ever been in. Perth has a 6 meter falls that was really smooth in a raft. There are several outstanding trips on the west coast. Cheers
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Old 11-23-2009   #3
Cisco, Utah
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NZ Whitewater Forum...
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Old 11-25-2009   #4
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NZ doesn't have any rivers that are long by US standards. Between the rocky gorges, one encounters braids and shingle beds, which can be frustrating at lower flows (the height of summer might not be the best time to try). Best bets for summer are rivers with sources in snowfields and glaciers. Otherwise, be prepared to track the rainfall.

For multi-day raft trips on South Island, the Buller River & tributaries probably offer the most possibilities as far as dependable flows, multi-day runs, and whitewater (NZ IV). You might also look at the Grey River and tributaries, which reaches the sea at Greymouth where there are several good pubs. On the east coast, check out the Clarence River which reaches the sea near Kaikoura (great spot to end a trip with kai moana and wine).

On North Island, the Whanganui is a wildly popular scenic trip with rental boats likely available. For a look at the river, check out the NZ film River Queen: River Queen (2005) .

There are lots of whitewater runs (e.g. the Karangahake Gorge on the Ohinemuri River), but it's harder to find multi-day camping trips with whitewater. There are also lesser known rivers with road access and potential for overnight raft trips, such as the Waioeka above Tauranga on the east coast:

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Gorgeous, and typical of the region, with (as I recall) moderate whitewater, and public road access. This is a midwinter photo. Probably much less flow in summer.

Given the camping gear, etc. needed for multi-day raft trips, it might make sense to use duckies and concentrate on day runs. Keep the boats rolled in the boot of the rental car. Hitchhike the shuttle, eat pub food, and sleep in a real bed.

Same rivers. Simpler approach.

If you do the small-boat thing, check out the Pelorus River (between Picton and Nelson) and stay at The Trout in Canvastown, a workingman's roadhouse. The rooms are tiny, the pub food is good, and the brekkies are monumental.

If you're renting boats, do some coasting in sea kayaksó if you're not familiar with tide tables, coastal currents, and such, study up. The rivers are beauts, but the ocean is magnificent.

I'm aching with envy, mate. Wish it was me going.
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Old 11-26-2009   #5
Buena Vista, Colorado
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You can check out trip options with Wet 'n Wild out of Rotorua on the North Island. There are some great multi-day options on the Motu, the Mohaka and a few others.
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Old 11-26-2009   #6
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what about the Karamea? Anyone do that?
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Old 11-26-2009   #7
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Never tried it. Here's a bit from my old guidebook (South Island Rivers by Graham Egarr):

"The Karamea River takes a wide northward sweep through the centre of Kahurangi National Park to flow into the Tasman Sea about 90 km north of Westport. It is notable for the huge slip rapids created by the 1929 Murchison Earthquake, which have resulted in long quiet reaches separated by steep and extremely difficult rapids.

The gorge below the slip area contains some of the most difficult whitewater in New Zealand. Combined with its wilderness location, the difficulty of the river trip is compounded by the extremely rapid fluctuations in flow that can occur after rain. This is not a river to be taken lightly. The countryside is untracked and experienced trampers can sometimes have difficulty in covering more than 5 km per day."

In other words, if you try to walk out, you'll suffer. There are pictures of 'yaks shooting through slot-drops and a paddle raft on a reach that looks a bit like the Selway, rock-wise. In other words, big fun if you have the skill. And the flows.
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