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Mākatote / SH4 to Upper Manganui Valley bridge, III-IV

Average: 4.5 (2 votes)


needs rain, if the stream looks floatable below the bridge it's about good
visual about 5cu at the put in
3-4 hours
Put in: 
below Makatote Road bridge
Take out: 
Upper Manganui Valley bridge
very cool wilderness with whio
Hot tip: 
don't go if it's way high!

The imposing viaduct spanning the Makatote just south of National Park township distracts all but the most obsessive kayakers peering into the river valley. The small river trickling below SH49 does nothing to hint at the hidden charms downstream. Don’t be misled! This stunning run is worthy of exploration and boasts many ‘classic kayak trip’ ingredients - a shuttle which twists and turns into oblivion, an inescapable gorge, narrow flow margins and many trees.

In 1989 information on the Makatote had filtered out from DOC workers tubing the stream in low flows searching for whio (blue ducks). These whisperings were heard by local boaters and word spread.The first four kilometres to the Waimarino confluence is a delicate pinball ride down rocky chutes. Keep an eye out for strainers which move regularly in the many floods. The introduction of the Waimarino and Manganui-a-teo is good for river flows. The scratching is over and you enter the heart of the Makatote experience (even though the river is called the Manganui-a-teo from here down).

From here numerous rapids stack up in the narrow gorge and keep you on your toes. Cunning boat scouting and manouvering make for some dynamic travel down a gorge which twists and turns for over nine kilometres all the while framed by the green velvet walls which are the true magic of the Makatote. These 50 metre high walls ensure you stay in the gorge and have a sore neck by the end from looking up so much. Enjoy.

To get to the put-in: Find the Makatote River at the bottom of the big viaduct 12 kilometres south of National Park township. Bash down on the river right side of the bridge to an over grown 4WD track, follow this for 40metres. Just as it seems to disappear head left down to the river.

To get to the take out: See directions for Manganui-a-teo put-in.

Upstream of: 
Top Gorge Run
NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: 
Linda Wensley
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