Toaroha River – The last of our NZ tour

We all slept well following a full day on the Styx River the previous day. Feeling refreshed we made plans to paddle the Lower section of the Toaroha River. This was to be another helicopter trip. This section is only a 3-4 hour trip, which was welcomed after a big day yesterday.

Loading kayaks onto the helicopter at the Toaroha River

Loading kayaks onto the helicopter at the Toaroha River

Allen and Tristan flying in a helicopter

Allen and Tristan in the helicopter on our way up the river

When flying up the the put in, you’re taken up river to the furthest possible landing zone. However, there’s some nice rapids just upstream of this landing area. So what happens is, everyone is flown up with their kayaks to the landing area. Then all of the kayaks are attached to the underbelly of the helicopter and flown further upstream. The helicopter can’t land up here, but he simply drops the kayaks. Then you’ve got an easy walk upstream to find your kayaks again.

helicopter picking up kayaks on a rope

The helicopter taking our kayaks further upstream

helicopter flying away with all our kayaks

Up the creek without a paddle? How about up the creek without your kayaks!?

Toaroha River

Morning chopper rides to views like this. Today is a good day!

The above photo was taken looking upstream from the put in. Which is where our kayaks where dropped off after we’d walked up to collect them. Up and around that bend somewhere is a nice waterfall. The idea is to paddle upstream, getting our of your kayak a few times to get around some rocks. We’d planned to head up and run the drop, however it had been lightly raining that morning, and the rocks were all extremely slippery. The only member of our group who’d been up there before thought it would be too slippery to be able to make it, so we decided against it.

Once back in town, everyone who heard we’d been paddling the Toaroha all asked with excitement if we’d gone up to paddle the waterfall, then proceeded to rub it in when we explained we hadn’t. So my recommendation: if you ever paddle the Toaroha, at least try making it up to the drop, otherwise you’ll regret it!

Whitewater kayaking through rapids on the Toaroha River

Bouncing through some of the early rapids of the day

Whitewater kayaking through rapids on the Toaroha River

It's all about having fun, and Diego is having bucket loads of it!

Whitewater kayaking through rapids on the Toaroha River

Marina coming through some fun rapids

Whitewater kayaking through rapids on the Toaroha River

Just cruising on through

Whitewater kayaking through rapids on the Toaroha River

Alberto lining up his next move

The lower section of the Toaroha River is roughly 5km of good fun class III-IV whitewater. The rapids are all great fun and relatively clean by West Coast standards. This is also a very beautiful stretch of river. From the surrounding mountains, to the dense green rain forest’s, the crystal clear water and even many of the rock formations alongside the river.

Toaroha River scenery

Floating downstream, surrounded by lush rainforest

Whitewater kayaking through rapids on the Toaroha River

The Toaroha River has some really fun rapids!

Whitewater kayaking through rapids on the Toaroha River

More fun stuff on the Toaroha River

kayak pinned in rapids on the Toaroha River

Tristan giving the universal river signal for "Stop laughing at me and come get me off these rocks you bastards!"

I thought I’d give a quick explanation of the above photograph. The pressure of the water has pinned Tristan’s kayak sideways against a few small rocks. In this situation his head is above water and he’s in no real danger. He could pull his deck and escape quite easily. However, this would swamp the kayak with water. Full of air, the kayak is easy for somebody to help out and pull him off the rocks. If the kayak was swamped full of water, it would be impossible without setting up a pulley system with ropes. A far more time consuming exercise! All’s well that ends well though, and we were all heading safely down river in no time.

whitewater kayaking boof stroke on the Toaroha River

Tristan redeeming himself with a solid boof stroke

whitewater kayaks on the Toaroha River

The water on the Toaroha River is beautiful!

whitewater kayaker in a cave on the Toaroha River

There's a lot of great scenery along the river too

Whitewater kayaking through rapids on the Toaroha River

More fun whitewater on the Toaroha

Whitewater kayaking through rapids on the Toaroha River

Tristan on a nice little drop

Whitewater kayaking through rapids on the Toaroha River

Allen preparing to punch through a small hole

I really enjoyed the days outing on the Toaroha River. We only had a couple of planned days left of paddling in New Zealand. That evening the heavens opened up again, and by morning the West Coast was in flood stage once again. Unfortunately, this also meant the end of our paddling trip would come a few days early. We headed back to Christchurch and spent a few days sightseeing before heading back home to Australia.

Trip Date: 6 January 2010
For more detailed information on paddling this section of river, check out the lower Toaroha River guide on Whitewater NZ.

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3 Responses to Toaroha River – The last of our NZ tour

  1. Cool pics, looks like a beautiful run. Just curious, how cold is that water? What’s the general temperature one is looking at on the West Coast rivers? Shot.. :)

    • padallen says:

      Hey Adrian, it is a very beautiful run! It’s not that cold. I paddled in a dry top with a polypropylene thermal underneath, and some real cheap splash pants with board shorts under them and I never got cold. I purchased a thick polartec top to wear in NZ. I wore it once and was way too hot and never wore it again.

      I hope this gives you a good idea. Just keep in mind it was mid summer on the West Coast. This also isn’t relevant for the few glacier fed rivers which are seriously cold year round.

  2. Andrea till says:

    WOW it looks really fun, I so want to go one time.

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