The WWCC has only paddle the Rakaia Gorge twice in recent history and it is a pleasant but not particularly challenging trip, so don’t expect much white water.
Getting there: Head out of Christchurch on Yaldhurst Road, this becomes State Highway 73. At Darfield turn left towards Rakaia Gorge on Bangor Road (State Highway 77), through Glentunnel, through Glenroy. After Windwhistle, Coleridge Road takes you to the get in and Rakaia Gorge Road takes you to the get out below the Rakaia Gorge bridge.
Flows: This is the largest volume river in Canterbury and is paddleable all year round, even at the height of summer. 100 to 300 cumecs are normal flows, above 300 cumecs the gorge gets more exciting with lots of boils and funny water, not recommended for novices.
Run: Rakaia Gorge Grade: 2 Length: 20km (3.5hours)
Rakaia River Level
Put in / take out: Drive across the Gorge Bridge and take the first right up Blackford Road, drive about 20km until you get to the camping area at Kowhai Flats and make your way down to the river from there. Take out below the Rakaia Gorge bridge on the left hand side.
Description: Great scenery and a big volume river though not too many rapids. The first section is an open braided section with a few gravel chute type rapids and the odd boulder to spice things up. For the last 6 or 7km, the river is closed in by some spectacular cliffs that form the gorge. Rapids in this section are generally form around the bluffs and corners and can be quite boily, there are also occasional rocks to dodge. Watch out for boils, funny water and jet boats.