Maruia / Creighton Road to SH65


running clean


3-5 hours
Put in: 
end of Creighton Road (off SH65)
Take out: 
Ruffe Creek bridge on SH65
19.5 km
NZ Topo L30
scenic, wilderness, single braid fun
Hot tip: 
a great 'get away from it' day

The Maruia on a hot sunny day is great as a scenic, relaxing trip away from the hubbub of the popular Buller runs. It makes a great beginner/intermediate trip if a few of the harder rapids are walked. If the weather forecast is excellent and you have a hot date it makes an excellent over night adventure too. The Maruia drains the southern Spenser Range and wends north alongside SH65 between Springs Junction and Murchison. The Shenandoah Mountains rise up to form a barrier that swings the river away from the road. The river moves west then back east to rejoin SH65 a few kilometres above Maruia Falls.

The run begins as easy class II riffles for a few kilometres until well away from the road. The beech forest crowding down to the water's edge is stunning. This, combined with crystal clear water and an abundance of fish and game, means that the most common visitors to the area are hunters and anglers. The few harder rapids are in the steeper areas with big boulders in the river. The paddling here is very enjoyable, and at very high flows the large waves that are kicked up keep you guessing at what's over the lip right to the finish. Towards the end the river enters a short gorge typical of the region. Once clear of this a kilometre or so of class I water will see you at the take out and road.

To get to the put in: find Creightons Rd off SH65 about 18km north of Springs Junction. Drive 2km down this gravel road to the barn and gate at the end of the road. A small stream runs alongside the road just by the gate. Follow this stream 150m to its confluence with the Maruia. Make sure that any vehicles left at the put in are well off the roadway, and ensure all gates and fences are left as they are found. Access is via a paper road.

To get to the take out: the take out is on the northern side of Shenandoah Saddle on SH65. The easiest parking area is at Ruffe Creek, where the Maruia returns to the road. There are small tracks through the bush to the river.

Maruia Falls is downstream about 15 kilometres. The falls were paddled for the first time in 1983 by Mick Hopkinson and Gillian Wratt. These days it is a common huck-fest location so go and huck your way to fame or infamy as you see fit. Maruia was the birthplace of Rush Sturges's trick - the 'Hail Mary', a front loop full somersault in 2005 which was circulated worldwide on video. Give it your best shot, and if you have a helicopter shooting pictures don't leave your keys near the edge of the river! Don't bother flat landing it. At least four people have been hospitalized with compressed vertebrae in the pool below. Think pencil!
NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: