Hutt / Hutt Gorge (Kaitoke Gorge)

Info

Class: 
III-IV
Portage?: 
No
Level: 
Needs to be >= 6.5 cumecs (1.8m on Te Marua Gauge)
Gauge: 

Te Marua Gauge GWRC Telephone 083 220 170, http://graphs.gw.govt.nz/hutt-river-at-te-marua/

Gradient: 
7.5m/km
Length: 
9.5km
Time: 
2-4 hours depending on play time
Put in: 
Kaitoke Regional Park off SH2 just before Rimutakas, North of Upper Hutt
Take out: 
Near water supply/Twin Lakes/Te Marua speedway, turn left off SH2 at Te Marua Golf Club then turn left again at the first water supply building.
Shuttle: 
Approx 20 mins, 9km
Maps: 
S26, S27
Character: 
2-4 hours of wilderness class III water within 20mins drive of the Beehive
Hot tip: 
Scout for logs, watch out for Lord of the Rings tourists

Hutt Gorge is the closest class III to the capital of NZ, Wellington. It needs a northwest fresh or sustained southerly rain to be runnable (over 1.8m on the Te Marua gauge). Above 2.7m on this gauge it is a harder run (class IV) with plenty of holes and few eddies so you need to know where the holes are going to be.

At normal flows (2.0-2.5m) the Gorge is like a wilderness run even though it is close to Upper Hutt (and Wellington). After putting in on the Pakuratahi River next to the Regional Park car park (toilets) and smiling at the tourists who flock to the LOTR filming sites, there is a km of class II-III. Once you get to the last (flume) bridge it is time to make sure everryone is "OK" because walking out after this point is difficult. Logs are common in the Gorge and scouting of blind drops is mandatory unless you have prior recent knowledge. The logs shift in every flood so don't be tricked into thinking you know the river from six months ago.

After leaving the flume bridge the river flows around to the left where the first drop occurs. In 2007, this drop has no log in it and is really just a chute. The easy but fast water and drops continue for 300m before the river goes left. This leads to the site of a recent (October 2007) pinning and overnight stay due to logs in the main flow. The offending logs have since been trimmed but have not yet moved so this rapid is a mandatory scout and/or portage depending on flows. Above 2.0m there is a line on the right or if you feel lazy you can go over the log. Below 2.0m portage is the only option. This rapid is now called Westpac in recognition of 2 recent chopper rescues.

Another 400m takes you through Anne's Drop (now small at normal flows) and down to the "Weir". This is a generally friendly river-wide log weir which is a great play spot for everyone. A great place to let off some steam and have a go.

The river then turns right down several chutes to a big pool which ends at the confluence of Putaputa Stream (enters on right) where there is a sharp left turn. The gradient steepens with a small drop then onto the rock gardens and after a right turn you enter the Chicayne Rapid. The usual line is left of the big rock in the middle. After this chute it's time to eddy out and do your best to scout the Log Drop. This is a riverwide rata log which lodged itself here about two years ago (2005?) and has created an extra degree of challenge for newbies on the Gorge. At low flow the best option is to portage on river right. At 2.0m it is not practical to portage and best to run it middle left. At high flows there is a car-eating hole on river left so you need to keep right!

There is a big pool after the Log Drop then comes the Toilet Bowl - a steep tongue on river right is the easiest route or if you feel like a harder line go left.

From here is roughly 2km of easy class III with some play spots which switch on and off depending on the flow. In here is a nice class III drop called Pinball? which occurs on a left hand bend and is just above a play spot we used to call Woodies Wave?

Another 500m and you are at the half way point. The grade from here on is easy class III but log danger can change this of course. After Kororipo Stream (enters right) the grade drops off even more until the last half hour or so is easy class II.

At flows above 2.1m the second half of the run is still good fun.

Take out when you get to the car park. There is a big pool where kayakers gather before running the next (learners) section called the Twin Lakes run.

The Hutt Gorge contains a variety of drops and waves. It is wisest to run it on a dropping river as the narrow gorge can fill up quickly and the grade can change appropriately. The scenery is awesome. Every time we take a new paddler down they can't believe this is all so close to Wellington. But of course it is rain dependent so be prepared to sacrifice something to get to the Gorge!

History: 
Credits: 
Alan Bell
NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: 
p112

Comments

Scott Kearney's picture

There is a large log across the river just after the flume bridge. It probably came down around the 26/9/17. We were able to pass under the log on river left at 13m3/s on the Kiatoke gauge- however this could become far more challenging at higher flows as most of the river flows under the log on river right. There are also a few other (less perilous) logs further downstream that will probably dislodge before long. Take care out there

Marti's picture

Be aware of the log on river right at the exit of the "Toilet Bowl" rapid. At low flow <1900mm it is visible and possibly a hazard to some. Fairly easy portage on river right if required.

gus's picture

I'm sure most local boaters have been aware for some time now, but the infamous log drop is no more. I believe it washed out late 2013, leaving behind a rather mellow chicane. However, since about 400 cumecs came through the gorge in may 2014, many new logs have appeared. None seem to pose much danger as they are generally stashed well above high tide mark, but I can see them finding their way into strange and unusual locations with the next decent rain. Best of
Luck!

Sid's picture

Jo Dovey has notified local canoe club members that there have been several serious pins in the log drop rapid lately. The nature of the sieve changes with floods and movement of the logs. Please treat this rapid with caution.

Mike Birch's picture

Phil Clunies-Ross says:
Just an update of the Log drop on the gorge. I just looked at a photo I took today and it looks like it's shifted forward, with a new log on the right. Not sure what it will do at higher flows. Looks a bit nasty though.