Hooker / First swingbridge to Hooker bridge

Info

Class: 
IV
Portage?: 
No
Level: 
any
Gauge: 

visual

Gradient: 
16.0m/km
Length: 
3.7km
Time: 
1-2 hours
Put in: 
First swingbridge Hooker Valley
Take out: 
Hooker Bridge
Shuttle: 
3.3km
Maps: 
H36
Character: 
even gradient, boulder gardens, glacial river
Hot tip: 
Cold tip: Lads, this is what you will have!

The water is absolutely frigid and hard to read, you get an icecream headache if you turn over, and you’re in big trouble if you swim! So why bother? Well, the scenery and walk in are outrageous, the looks you get from tourists are priceless and the paddling is not too bad either.

The river responds to the mood of the glacier. If you go early in the morning when all the water is still locked up as ice in the glacier, expect a twisting, maze-like boulder garden. If the day is hot or a southerly storm is raging, you are in for a big, cold, scary rollercoaster ride. Watch out for moving eddies as large iceblocks float down the river with you.

If you are up for the full adventure experience walk all the way to Hooker Lake and get photographs of paddling with the ice bergs. This run starts out amongst fun boulder gardens then steepens insanely through the crux section from the top swingbridge to the bottom glacier lake. You would have been able to scout it all during the walk in.

Years ago we put on during a southerly storms. Everything went fine until one of our team turned over. He rolled up in time but his boat smacked into a big rock. "I’m sinking," he screamed as he paddled furiously to the bank. Sure enough he was getting low in the water. The bottom of his boat was cleanly punctured with a hole about 6cm in diameter. The plastic was so cold and brittle it snapped when he hit the rock!

To get to the put in: follow signs to the Hooker Valley from Mt Cook Village. Park at the end of the road and walk 900m to the first swingbridge or continue up to the Hooker Glacier lake. Make sure your vehicle is fuelled up before five o’clock because everything will be closed.

To get to the take out: follow the Tasman Valley signs to the road bridge over the Hooker River.

History: 
Credits: 
Graham Charles
NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: 
p240