Kawarau / Citroën (Waitiri Run)


<300 cumecs

Otago Regional Council flow phone 03 479 6493, Chards Rd guage.

1 hour
Put in: 
Gravel road, 2km east of Victoria Bridge.
Take out: 
3km down the road at another gravel track to the river.
One BIG class IV rapid.
Hot tip: 
A great first time, big water rapid.

Now the scene of much hooting and hollering as aspiring hardpeople cut their teeth on their first class IV+ big water, the Citroën, or Waitiri rapid, was hidden from the world for a number of years. "Easy flowing water," was how the 1981 South Island Recreational River Survey described the section of river from Nevis Bluff to the Natural Bridge above the Roaring Meg run, obviously unaware of the existence of the rapid. It was not until 1984 that a group floated down this stretch of "easy flowing water" to be confronted by Citroën. From then on it's been a classic and for years was the warm-up prior to a run down the now-drowned Sargood's Weir (see Roaring Meg).

Make no mistake, the water is big, but the moves are simpler than the heavy-weights of the big water world. There is a huge rock in the middle of the river which produces the crux move; brace right, brace left then line up and hold your hat for the run down to the big wave at the bottom. At high flows (more than 300 cumecs) the rapid turns very big and the rock forms a rather sizeable hydraulic that has forced swims from a number of the country's best big-water boaters. Even at normal flows I have seen very spectacular trashings in the bottom wave. Take a video camera and frighten your mother with the footage.

To get to the put-in; this section is below Nevis Bluff. Drive on SH6 and look for a gate on the river side of the road about 2km east of Victoria Bridge (Nevis take-out). Go through this gate and follow the gravel road a short distance down to the river.

To get to the take-out; head downriver for about 3km. Just as the road starts to swing around a right hand curve there is a gravel road which cuts back down to the river. If you cross the Gentle Annie Stream bridge, you have gone too far. The rapid itself is way below a rock promontory 800m from the put-in gate; a good viewing spot for shuttle drivers.

Class IV+ - V: more than 300 cumecs

Graham Charles
NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: