Characterised by a number of rapids through a series of picturesque gorges, the Baton River is almost a minature version of Nelsons Wairoa River. A major tributary of the Motueka River, the Baton is a wonderful outing with enjoyable class III paddling and numerous playspots. It’s only paddleable at higher flows after continuous NW rain in the Kahurangi National Park. If the Motueka River at the main road bridge between Motueka and Riwaka is big, brown and bank to bank the trip will probably be on. If water is flowing over the ford at the take out, then it’s definitely on. The take out ford has recently been ‘upgraded’ to an evil low-lying concrete bridge with water sucking under and spilling over it at higher flows. Avoid the structure altogether by taking out immediately upstream on river left.
To get to the take out: From Blue Gum Rapid (see directions page 23) follow the West Bank Road for a further 26.5 km until you reach the ‘Baton Bridge’ (which spans the Motueka River). From this bridge, stay on the west bank, and follow Baton Valley Rd for 3 km to get to the take-out at the reconstructed Baton ford.
If travelling directly from SH61 (the east bank), Baton Bridge is approximately 31 km south of Motueka, and identified with signposts to Pokororo and the Graham Valley. Cross the bridge to access Baton Valley Road.
To get to the put in: From the take out continue along the Baton Valley Road for 5.5km, and put in anywhere along the open river flats.