The Rangitata River offers the main grade 4 run in Canterbury but also has a reasonably fun grade 2 section. Run as a combined trip, it makes for a good day out and a very easy shuttle. A rafting company also regularly runs the gorge for tourist and thrill seekers (or kayaker without bombproof rolls).
Getting there: Head south out of Christchurch along State Highway One, carry on through Ashburton and then take the Arundel turn off at Hinds. Carry on along along the Arundel Road, turn left at the end and cross the Arundel Bridge over the Rangitata. Turn right after the bridge and follow the sealed road around and turn right at Pratt Road and then on to Peel Forest Road which becomes Coopers Creek Road then Rangitata Gorge Road this will take you to the Rangitata Rafts centre.
Flows: This river is paddleable all year round, even at the height of summer. 60 to 80 cumecs is about the average flow, around 150 cumecs the Klondyke section becomes fun. 40 cumecs or more is recommended (apparently some features become more dangerous at low flows) for the Gorge run with the excitement / risk increasing with the flow.
Run: Klondyke to OPC Grade: 2 Length: 14km (3 hours)
Rangitata River Level
Put in / take out: Put in above the Weir at Klondyke and take out either at the OPC (look out for the Red Shed on the river right, the get up is just past it, near the white house) or 2km further down at Lynn Stream.
Description: Single channel open river with a mainly gravel chute styled rapids on the corners plus a few boulder gardens. The boulder weir at the start looks imposing to beginners but can be easily run down the chicken route on the right hand side. Water is generally very cold so dress warmly.
Run: Rangitata Gorge Grade: 4 Length: 10km (2 to 3 hours)
Rangitata River Level
Put in / take out: Follow the Rangitata Gorge road up above the gorge to the put in and take out above the Weir at Klondyke.
Description: I don’t know, I’ve never been there but keep your nose out of the Pig’s Trough and don’t grab the Rooster’s Tail and you’ll probably be ok. Apparently you can run the grade 3 rapids and then portage the grade 4 rapids with a 1km walk. It would probably pay to use a creek boat the first time and go with someone who has done the run before.