Inangahua / Inangahua


Needs rain

Visual, good when the rapid above the bridge is paddleable

2-3 hours
Put in: 
At the road bridge on SH7, where there is a steeper rapid immediately above the road bridge
Take out: 
River flats on the right
Fast, exciting
Hot tip: 
Don't swim!
The Inangahua flows east from Rahu Saddle to Reefton before it joins the Buller. After heavy rain this section offers something a little different!

The first rapid just above the road bridge doesn't really charecterise the rest of the run, which typically has more single drops with powerful hydraulics. The harder rapids are in the first kilometre, before easing to class III boulder gardens. At the flows necessary for this run to go, the water is brown and pushy, and you can hear boulders rolling along the river bed underneath your boat!

To get to the put-in; drive east from Reefton on SH7. The road crosses the Inangahue several times, stop at the bridge with an obvious class IV rapid immediately upstream of the bridge. Put in here.

The take-out is harder to find. Return towards Reefton for about 6km. On the left there is a grassy flat where the gradient of the river has obviously eased. It is worthwhile marking the take-out with something visible from the river.

Glenn Murdoch
NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: 


Tim_G's picture

Some footage correlated with flows:

The halfway-ish point in the video is Tobins bridge. We put in a few 100m downstream of the last waterfall.

Tim_G's picture

Some footage correlated with flows:

The halfway-ish point in the video is Tobins bridge. We put in a few 100m downstream of the last waterfall.

zak shaw's picture

Our team was surprised by the quality of the Inangahua on a recent trip. I encourage paddlers looking for more technical class three runs to watch the weather and get on this run. Its a good option due to its roadside nature (although it generally feels like your in the wilderness) The rapids are often long and continuos in nature.
As per the comments above I can add a little extra detail.
We put in 2.3km above Tobins Bridge on a corner sign posted as 55km/hr. This is where the big drops are. We inspected them all but didn't like the horseshoe shape of the top drop. This is the one Hugh mentions which is narrow. Its a big drop with an exit gap of a width less than a modern creek boat. The gap gets wider at a higher flow. It was easy to put in immediately below this one above a classic 7-8m drop thats walled in. On the day of our run a fallen tree had its branches draped over the lip on the drop but we managed to sneak under and boof. Its a fantastic line.
Another member of our team put in immediately below this drop and we then paddled what could be considered the last "hard drop" in this upper stretch. The drop looked simple from the bank but turned out to be slightly more complicated once in the boat. Its hard to see the knuckle thats key to a good line in the centre.
Our fourth team member put in below here.
From here to Tobins Bridge (class 3+4) contains some great moves an although there were tree hazards they were easily managed.
From Tobins down you could take out anywhere really as there are multiple spots where either the road comes close or a side creek bridge is passed.
We paddled 9.7km and felt like we got good bang for our buck even near the end of the run. We took out 1.8km downstream of Crate creek. In places the whitewater does back off but it comes back and is good fun. If you have your gear on stay wet, its worth it.
The whitewater continues past this point but the river leaves the road so its a convenient end point.
We did not have flood water levels. If the river looks like it has enough, get on it!

hugh's picture

The Inangahua gets more difficult and steeper the further up you go. There is a good Class 2 run from the swingbridge reserve and a Class 3 run with some quite long rapids from Tobins Bridge down the swingbridge. The description above starts at Tobins Bridge. If you want something quite challenging inspect the river where it runs hard up against the L bank further upriver. The flow needs to be right. There is a Class 4 drop followed by a rocky gorge section of about 80m with a 15m drop signalled by a side stream falling in on the R bank. This drop should be closely inspected at the bottom as who knows what's down there at any particular time. The line is narrow. There are further drops and then a section of narrow bush-lined Class 3-ish water which will have all sorts of logs in awkward places. This brings you down to Tobins Bridge.

This river is flashy needs to be caught at the right flow. The ideal scouting mission is to drive upriver from Reefton and put in once your comfort level is reached. The Inangahua is only a paddling proposition with water and that usually means it's raining. Trees and general wood is a hazard throughout, even on the Class 3 water. All blind drops need to be treated with care.