Mātakitaki / Lower Mātakitaki (Earthquake)


class III+: 25-50 cumecs, class IV-: 50-180 cumecs


40-60 minutes
Put in: 
150 metres below Earthquake Rapid on left
Take out: 
main road bridge SH6, outside Murchison
tight, technical, boulder gardens
Hot tip: 
make sure to leave all gates as you find them

Here;s another quality short run made possible by the 1929 earthquake that sent a huge slip into the river and dammed it. Technical maneuvering through boulder gardens at the start of the run creates a slightly different run than many others in the region. A lot of wood shifts around so always be wary if it’s your first trip in a while. There are often a couple of good play holes right near the put-in visible from the road, and people have been known to park-n-play right there.

When faced with the numerous channel options at the beginning most go for the far right. The tight, technical moves make this a great learning ground for those just mastering the problems of cross current travel in tight spaces.

There is a range of play options down this middle stretch and some good channel convergences to get stern squirts or ends. A little further all the channels join up for the final run down the main rapid – an exciting rollercoaster ride finishing in large standing waves. It’s quicker to get out on river left one hundred metres below the wave chain and walk up the farm track - leave gates as you find them. If you carry on to Murchison it is an easy float with some class I and II riffles.

If you like your action dished up big wait for one of the legendary Buller floods to hit the area. Get yourself to the put-in and run this section a couple of times. I once did five runs in a row when there was about 200 cumecs thundering down. It took twelve minutes to the bridge in Murchison!

To get to the take out: after about four kilometres there is a gate on the left side. Park well off the road. To get to the put in: continue up this road for about one kilometre to where the road returns to the river next to a gate and old flow gauge. Park well of the road and put in at the bottom of the steps to the river.

Graham Charles
NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: 


rexj's picture

Last rapid as at Feb 2011. Looking up at second channel. Right hand channel coming in on left hand side of picture.

rexj's picture


Since the recent floods, the whole last rapid in the below photo has changed. At low flows there is no obvious route down the right channel (there are 2, both dodgy).

The second channel is easier, but the entrance rapid is very tight, no longer grade 3.

This applies to the current low flows, at higher flows it opens up and there are more options.

rexj's picture

Takeout is now well formed, gate is invisible. You'll see a signature box there, near the bottom of a hill after views of the last rapid.

Definitely take right channel at top. After the middle section there are 4 channels to choose from, first is against the paddock, you probably won't spot it. Second is obvious, third follows shortly after and is often full of wood. Fourth is the usual channel and spills out onto a sieve like area on the RHS of the last rapid. Make your way down as far left as you can.
Take the second channel for an easier option.