Wilkin / Upper airstrip to Makarora River

Info

Class: 
IV-V
Portage?: 
No
Level: 
15 - 30 cumecs
Gauge: 

Visual

Gradient: 
26.0m/km
Length: 
13.5km
Time: 
5 - 8 hours to Kerin Forks
Put in: 
Upper airstrip, Wilkin Valley
Take out: 
Makarora River
Shuttle: 
Helicopter
Maps: 
NZ Topo F38
Character: 
Steep, tight, technical
Hot tip: 
A fantastic part of the country with plenty of potential!
Tags: 
Rain
The Wilkin provides a fine adventure with a stunning mountain backdrop in relatively civilised surroundings. The lower reaches have been floated for years but the upper section was done first in Easter 1995. Helicopter is the best option for getting in though fixed wing can also get there. If going by helicopter it’s possible to get dropped off at the top of Jumboland flats below the sieve portage in the first gorge (grid ref 874513; F38)

If you begin at the upper airstrip there is a short section of shingle braids down to the first gorge. 200m of class III-IV boulder gardens lead you to the sieve where the entire river goes under a boulder. Be wary of this and be sure to make the exit point which comes at you quite quickly. Portage on the left.

Below the sieve a continuous steep section leads down to the top of Jumboland flats, where giant mountain faces, hanging snow fields and craggy waterfalls provide a fabulous backdrop to the next 4km of class III-IV paddling.

Below this is a long class V section with rapids that vary in style from 3-4metre multi tiered drops to tight technical boulder gardens. Portaging is easiest on the left and you can get in and out where you please and paddle the drops you want and walk others.

Below this section the gradient eases markedly to class III for about 3km down to the Siberia confluence at Kerin Forks. No whinging about the 90 minute class I-II paddle out from here though as hundreds of trampers every year walk for three days to get into this valley to see the scenery and for kicks you can always paddle up behind a few and frighten them on the way home.

History: 
Credits: 
Graham Charles, Nigel Sutherland
NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: 
p0

Comments

tom_b's picture

Paddled the Wilkin in November 2013, it's a pretty good run. We had 579.8m on the Young gauge which was on the low side (approx normal spring flows). The fixed wing plane at Makarora is too small for kayaks but they may get a bigger one soon, which should be cheaper than the heli.