Discover NZ packrafting - Easy rivers & stunning view

hey guys, here is a trip report from New Zealand

As we are not experienced packrafters and as it was our first and maybe last time in NZ, the idea was to visit the south island while paddling… With mostly easy rivers but beautiful landscapes. Here is the Vidéo
And I actually realised that Packrafting might be one of the best way to discover NZ: away from the bush with great view!!
Note that :

  • there is a lot of sandfly :smiling_imp: in NZ, take good reperlant and head net
  • the bush is most often too dense to set up a tent, think about hammock !!!

Rees River
half day trip to day trip - Class I- stunning view
A good easy day trip with stunning view of the mountains and Crystal-clear water.
We walked to the first bridge over Twenty Five Mile creek and packrafted back.
You could make a good multi-day trip going further in the valley

Hollyford-Pyke loop
5 to 7 days – Class I – Classic combo
This trip seems to be a classic and we know why… 2 rivers flowing opposite way, mountains and sea.
As you’ll cross 3 lakes, the time of the trip depend a lot of the wind…
You can use the hut system, we made it only using our tent and it was great, we used the hut at lunch time to avoid the sandfly.

First day: packraft hollyford. There is only one section with big rapids that you need to avoid. You’ll easy recognise it as it is the only section with a lot of big boulders in the river. For the portage, stay on the right side of the river and escape just before the first boulder. A good trail will lead you after the rapids.
Be careful with the wood on the river…
We camped just before the lake

2nd day: lake mc Kerrow
We spent a long day crossing the lake with back wind. We packrafted untill Martins bay hut and then walked a small part of the reef. Note that it is supposed to be a trail on the bush but it doesn’t really exist anymore. you’ll rather follow the reef and walk near to the sea.
We camped just after the reef

3th day
A long but easy walking day along the beach and then in the forest. In the forest the trail follows an old boring road.
We camped at the Pyke junction

4rd day
We packrafted the Pyke river and the 2 lakes until the junction with Hollyford. Then we walked to Hidden fall hut to camp near the river.

5th day
back to the car-park

Matukituki east branch
One day, class II+, a Must Do
This day trip is a must do with stunning view and funny rapids to practise.
There are 2 short class III rapids.
Walk up the valley until the junction with Kitchener river where you can put in.
The hike in the Kitchener valley really worth it (25min one way).

Gillespie loop
3-4 days – Class I & II – Gorgeous hidden valley
we invented this trip as we didn’t find any report . It was awesome to packraft the blue Siberia river as the Siberia valley is a gem…
The Gillespie pass need a very steep hike so you might prefer use the hut system to avoid a heavy backpack.
1st day: hike the young valley
2nd day: hike the Gillespie pass
3rd day: Packraft the Siberia Stream (class II). You can paddle after the hut but stop before the gorge, where the trail start to climb.
4th day: Hike to the wikin valley and float the wikin river (class I)

Copland River
1-2 days- Mostly class III – Nice but strenuous river for beginners
I’ll suggest you only do this river with a clear weather.
The 2 day trip including the hot pool at the Welcom flat hut is a good deal even if You can only packraft the section from the Architect creek (hide you packraft in the bush)
Upstream from Architect creek junction, at a small gravelled beach, we inflated our packraft to cross the Copland river and avoid the big rapid by walking the left bank.
Then you can packraft a first section of class II and class III.
After several hundred meters, you’ll see big boulders on the river with a class IV maybe class V section. We avoided it walking the left bank.
Then, you’ll mostly have class II and class III. Be carefull where the river goes close to the trail, there is a strange big boulder with a C shape. (You can check this section while you hike up). Here you have some rapids with big holes that beginners should avoid.

Pororari Riber
Half day , class I-, nice open gorge
A better way to discorver the place than just hiking.
Walk untill the bridge and float down to the car park

Taipo River
Half day – class II – Small gorge
A good option along the Arthur pass road to practise

Julie from France

Thanks Julie, lots of great info here and a nice video as well. Looks like I’ll be back again !

pictures here