Waimakariri River, New Zealand


I want to packraft the Waimakariri River in April, 2017. I’m new to packrafting, but I want to raft a reasonably easy river with great scenery. My brief research tells me that the Waimakariri River is suitable. I want to make the trip at least 2 days. Does anyone have any suggestions on what location I should enter the river?

FYI - I’ll be rafting with my girlfriend. We’re experienced hikers, and have rafted some simple rivers.

hey mate.

Try your luck on facebook : “packrafting in new zealand”
people should be able to help you !

Cheers !

Hi Kyle,

As max42mtb has said, the Facebook group he listed is definitely the best resource for anything in NZ.

I can give you the following info though from a trip that 3 of us (Aussies) did last January.

We camped at the Kowai Pass Reserve campground on the edge of Springfield then left our one and only hire car there. Its a 1.5 km walk from there to the Springfield Train Station where we boarded the TranzAlpine train to Cass.

We had lots of rain so only had to walk 1.5km from Cass to the Cass River. From there we were able to paddle/float down it 3.5km to the Waimak. Normally though there would not be enough water for this and instead you would walk (or perhaps try to hitch) 3.5 km to the Mt White Bridge. This is the normal put in location.

We paddled down to Hamilton Hut and stayed the night there before continuing the next day. We got to our pull out point at Keens Rd / Kowai River junction around the middle of day 2. From there it was a 6km or so jog back to the car. The managers of the reserve were really good about us leaving our car there but you could also leave it at the Springfield Station.

If you haven’t already, use http://www.topomap.co.nz/ for easy access to detailed online maps of the whole of NZ.

I think its a great loop for those relatively new to packrafting (depnding on the river level and the group of course).

Enjoy your trip!

Hi Kyle,

In addition to Mark’s comments, myself and a friend did a trip on the Waimakariri back in March 14. Seemingly this was a drought year although for an Aussie there still a reasonable amount of water albeit a bit on the low side.

We also had one car and left it at Andrews Saddle and walked over Casey saddle and jumped on the Poulter river at Casey Hut. From there it was a really fun float with noting more than easy grade 2 to the Waimak confluence. We paddled to Woodstock and got out at Otarama road (I think ) near Waimak jetboats put in. We walked /hitched to Springfield about 5 km down the road. I tried to hitch back to the car without luck (it was pouring by then) and the guys in the Springfield pub drove us back for $50 I think , we also stayed the night there which I think helped.

We didn’t get started until about 5pm on the 1st day (airline ‘misplaced’ my bags) and only got as far as Hallelujah Flat , day two we camped not far down from the Poulter confluence, day three we finished early arvo

As Mark mentioned for just the Waimak the Mt White bridge may be best bet if water is low, I recall it was pretty shallow and braided at that end (the shallowest of the whole trip) but soon gets OK

In addition to the topomaps Mark referenced I also used this site: http://rivers.org.nz/nz/canterbury/waimakariri/mount-white-bridge-to-gorge-bridge

Haydn’s vid of the trip: https://vimeo.com/94370391

Hope that helps, have a good one

Thanks for your replies,

Mick, I’m going to copy your trip. It looks ideal for my skill level. What clothing do you recommend on the water? Wet/dry suits?



G’day Kyle,

Regarding clothing, Haydn had a dry suit but I was wearing thermals below gortex jacket and overpants. I’ve never owned a dry suit, would be nice! … so far in NZ I haven’t needed one but have only paddled in summer-early autumn there. A deck on your boat helps keep the wind off your legs etc which makes things not so cold, water generally isn’t super cold at that time in that area from my limited experience. To each there own though as I have a little more insulation than I once did


Hi Mike,

A quick post about how our trip ended up. My girlfriend severly sprained her ankle, so we scrapped the packrafting plan. We hired a campervan and drove past the Waimakariri River - it looks amazing and I’m keen tl visit again to give it a crack.



That’s a shame Kyle. Yep I guess that river will keep flowing so there’s always next time ! Good/better luck down the track