Awatere / Mt Gladstone to Awapiri, I-II+
The Awatere is a long river, rising in Molesworth Station and meeting the sea near Seddon. The headwaters include water flowing off the western slopes of the Inland Kaikoura range, but it is a dry part of New Zealand, so rain events present the best kayaking opportunities. The lower section of the Awatere’s terraces are covered in vineyards and the river itself is flat, braided and infested with willows. The river isn’t regarded as a kayaking river, but the middle section from Mt Gladstone to Awapiri has some good intermediate kayaking when flowing above normal.
For the Middle Awatere, put in near the Mt Gladstone bridge and get out at the next bridge at Awapiri. At flows that start to cover the many boulders, the river becomes swift with frequent rapids containing small holes, waves and a few larger boulders that constrict the flow to create some interest. The river is mostly a single channel flowing between high gorged cliffs and access to the road is limited. It is similar to the gorged parts of the Clarence but with more frequent action, and most definitely improving with flow.
Many bluffs create pile-ups and increased difficulty, but they can be avoided. The whitewater contains surfing features and in places, some boulder rapids necessitate some ability to eddy hop.
From the river the scenery is a mixture of gorge walls and open vistas of the mountains on both sides of the valley.
The road is unsealed this far up the valley. It’s a good trip for those who are in the area and can catch a flow event.
(paddled at 120 dropping to 100 cumecs)