Waimakariri / Mount White Bridge to Gorge Bridge, II
After wide open, braided flows near Bealey the river carves through a spectacular gorge through the Torlesse Range. The river passes through a number of massive rock cliffs down through the Carrington Gorge, which ends with Hamilton Rapids, where the gorge opens out a little with rocky beaches. The river continues down past rocky bluffs and scrub covered hill sides to Broken River, where there is another narrow gorge section. Thereafter the river widens out, passes down through the wide Horseshoe Bend and then into Otarama Gorge down to Woodstock and further on down to the Gorge Bridge across from Sheffield.
The run from Mt White Bridge down to Woodstock or the Gorge Bridge is one of the classic overnight kayaking or rafting trips in New Zealand and is Class II-III. The Gorge is spectacular and the water not too difficult (Hamilton rapid is Class II-III depending on flow) although in very high flows e.g., 1500 cumecs or so, the river takes on the big water character and features rivalling those of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado of the USA (25 foot high waves) and becomes Class IV-V! The river is frequently rafted and is also catarafted and has been floated in dinghies. This stretch is also used in the Coast to Coast multisport race and after downriver racing paddlers the main users of the river are jet boaters.