Parapara / Richmond Flat to ?


Needs rain or spring flow 8 - 15cumecs


4 hours
Put in: 
Richmond Flat
Take out: 
Road end
Walk or helicopter section 6
Steep gorge
Hot tip: 
Check out the pipe work at the dam

The Para Para has a four kilometre trip in a beautiful gorge and you can fly. This little class IV number needs water (8 - 15cumecs) but has the normal Golden Bay fare of plenty of three metre falls into clean pools with portages around log jams and rock sieves. It even has the normal gradient of 50m/km.

The first 500m is class I to an old dam. Portage this on the right and the first drop/logjam on the left. After a few bedrock type drops the river changes into steep technical rockgarden rapids. There are a few short portages interspersed with classic drops with plenty of air. Towards the end is a long steep section with a three metre waterfall. Just after this is the last short gorge with a complex drop. Portage by jumping onto the centre rock then launching. The other option is to portage over the cliffs (1/2 hour). The rapids continue to the road end. Take out here or continue to the estuary and the main road.

From Takaka drive to the Parapara bridge. Wait for the helicopter. If you drive up the river left side to where the road joins the river you will get an idea of the flow unaffected by the estuary. Drive another couple of kilometres on the main road until Plain Rd. Turn left on Plain Rd and drive 3km to a road junction. Turn left and drive through a gate (there is a phone number to call before crossing the land). Follow this road down past two gates and stop at the hay shed if you don’t have 4WD. About 10 metres passed the gate a steep dirt road heads up the hill. Drive or walk up. Either keep an eye out for an old sign in the scrub to Richmond Flat or dial E2480655, N60499895 on your GPS. Once you find the overgrown track thrash down it for about 30 - 40 minutes. Once you see the river through the trees you will get to a small stream. Crash down this and hey presto.

Rob Bryant
NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: 


blair's picture

A crew of 3 of us got down here on the weekend after some good golden bay rain.
The access is much better than the description due to a recently brushed track into richmond flat and the road above the hay shed being drive-able almost to the walking track start.

There is a new farm track that is A+ driving, this goes wide and links back up right by the Richmond flat track start, but it is clearly labeled private. Would pay to ask the farmer first.

The walk was a 20min breeze down to the river above the old dam.

Beautiful run. We had a medium level as we put on (day after rain) but quickly became apparent this was not enough. I imagine putting on high on the drop would be ideal.
As an idea at the take out the water was around ankle deep in the morning. When we took off it was barely jandal deep. Maybe shin deep would be great..
At the dam you could safely get out on the lip. Again at a guess if this was dry there is no way I would go down stream, ideally it would be marginal to get out on the lip and you'd be in for a great water level.

There are some classic drops in there and lots of potential if there was more water. The last section as the comment above is Marginal. We did a lot of walking and the last major drop was portaged via the central rock. At higher flows this would be likely require the cliff portage or it may also be runnable.

All in all a beautiful gorge with huge potential at a better water level. Def some portaging, gorgeous sun and a few Nikaus. Easy logistics for what it is!!!!

riverplay's picture

I did the 1st descent on this with Rob, not sure if its been run again??? Probabaly needs another look. I remember plenty of steep drops and the bottom section pretty marginal, still its pretty cool facing straight north into the afternoon sun with regenerating native scrub puncuated with mature nikau trees...almost tropical