cook river


Does anyone know much about the cook river, west coast south island. Particularly interested to know any info about first or recent decents, any scouting or anyone who has just walked up the valley. i hear it is in a wilderness area that doesn't allow helicopter access. Can anyone confirm this?

jay1's picture

Hi James

Easter 98 three of us walked up with inflateables to a few hundred metres above the Balfour confluence, can't remember how long it took ,think approx 2 hours, there was an article in the NZrca magazine Autumn 98, I put "cook" into the search box on the home page, article was "three go mad in south westland", doesn't appear to be a copy on the website though.
From memoury there is grade 2/2+ ish rapid 0.5km above the road bridge, there was a grade 3 rapid right where we got in around the Balfour, between I don't remember much, Above the Balfour confluence the country started to climb quite steeply, we did cross to the river right side and walked/ scrambled upstream for a 0.5km or so to see what was there, the bit we saw was quite a bit steeper, we were in sage inflatables so weren't keen for any steep cheeking epics. Getting up stream further wouldn't be impossible but would be a bit of hard work. Didn't explore up the balfour at all, it looked like it would have more forgiving gradient and slightly more open to move up, pretty respectable amount of water in it as well.
Let us know what you find if you explore any further.

Glenn's picture

I thought about this a few years back, looked on the topo and worked out the bottom gorge to be around 200m/km, so didn't think about it any more...

I think this gorge will be fairly impossible to scout, and you're pretty likely to get to a point with no retreat if you come across an unrunnable / unportageable rapid...

Keen to hear if you make some progress though! If you're going in for a look, let me know, I might be keen...