After finishing up on the Hollyford River, we headed back to Queenstown for New Years Eve. We drove out for an afternoon paddle down the Routeburn River, but unfortunately it was far too low.
On New Years Day we left for Hokitika on the West Coast. We parted ways with Al and Rebekah, who’d been in New Zealand for a while longer than us and were heading back home to Australia and the USA respectively. We also said goodbye to Lucas who had some mountaineering and other adventures lined up. That left Duncan, Marina, Tristan and Allen who continued on to the West Coast. We also met up with Brent, who had just arrived from the USA.
We made a few tourist stops on the way out to Hokitika. First stop was the Nevis Bluff rapids, a must see for any paddler passing through to Queenstown. These are some impressive rapids indeed. Next stop was Puzzling World in Wanaka. We had a quick look around. There are some pretty interesting optical illusions in here. Our final sight seeing detour was to Fox Glacier. I really enjoyed having a look around near the glacier, and was impressed by its size, considering it’s just ice! You can’t see glaciers here in Australia, so I enjoyed this final stop.
That night in Hokitika, it rained, and it rained hard. This would become a bit of a theme for our time on the West Coast. The next morning we headed for the Totara River, which comes in after heavy rain. It was about the only option with every river on the West Coast in flood. The guide book says that if the water is high enough to cover the gravel bars under the take out bridge on the main road, then it’s high enough.
The first few rapids after the put in looked like a nice healthy flow. But as more and more side creeks and valleys spilled into the Totara River, the volume of water quickly increased.
The river flows continuously, especially with the extra water we had. There is small gorge which was a little steeper than the rest of the run. However, there was no need for anything more than boat scouting on this run, which also meant few photo opportunities.
The Totara River wasn’t the West Coast introduction I was expecting. However, without having to scout anything from the bank it took the nerves out of the run. This doesn’t make for the most challenging whitewater, but it’s always loads of fun being able to paddle straight through a continuous section like this without any stops!
Trip Date: 2 January 2010
Check out Whitewater NZ’s Totara River guide for more information.