Toaroha / Upper Toaroha


low water, clear


2.5-3 hours to the portage. Cairn on right side marks the best creek for carrying up to the track. Portage 40-90 minutes, then descend MacMillan Ck to normal helicopter landing zone
Put in: 
Top helo spot.
Take out: 
Above Toaroha Canyon (about 1 km below swingbridge).
Helicopter section 7B
J33, J34
Steep creek, then open river bed down to the top of Toaroha.
Hot tip: 
Worth doing if other runs in the area are too high and the Lower Toaroha run too low.

The Upper Toaroha has been paddled right from its source at the lake. Andy England says it is stunning bush and weird slabby steep stuff - go figure!! Failing that option putting in anywhere up the river the helicopter is able to land still makes for a fun adventure kayaking day. It’s steep, but the small flow levels and pool/drop nature keep things manageable. A couple of hours of fantastic ‘join the dots’ class IV kayaking, and one bigger rapid called Open Book, sees the river relax into lovely class II rapids down to Cedar Flats Hut and the swingbridge. Stop in at Wren Creek when you can smell sulphur; a short distance up it are some hot pools, though they may need to be excavated if you want a soak.

A short gorge just before Wren Creek has a tricky entrance rapid with high punishment factor if you blow the move. Be very careful. The portage on the right is easier if you don’t like the thought of being squeezed under a large boulder! Float down past the Cedar Flats swingbridge, then look for a cairn on the right about 1 kilometre below here. It marks the best creek for carrying up to meet the track. If you start running some class IV drops in a rapidly steepening river, you’ve gone too far and are starting into Toaroha Canyon. Continue if you want to ensure certain celebrity status, but it will most likely be posthumously. The track is easy portaging. Continue with it until you come to a large open stream bed after a long descent. Turn down this stream to the main river. Paddle to the take out as per the lower Toaroha River run.

To get to the take out: from Hokitika follow signs to Kokatahi. At the road junction at Kokatahi turn left onto Upper Kokatahi Rd. Follow the road for 11km crossing the Styx River on the way. Take the first right after the Styx bridge, signposted Toaroha Valley Access. Follow 3km of gravel road which crosses the Kokatahi River after 1km. Follow this road to where it drops down to the lower river terrace (leaving all gates as found) and park off the road somewhere. The 50 minute walk in: follow the farm road and look for track markers heading away from the river, up into the bush. Follow this track until it splits and is signposted to the low water track. Head down to the river and put in where you want.

Graham Charles
NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: 


chchww's picture

Access to Toaroha
(Hokitika, West Coast)

We went in there on Monday and talked to the farmer (at the dairy shed on your right as you turn onto the gravel) who said the group of paddlers in there a couple of days earlier had damaged some of the gates, creating a short in his electric fence. He said it took them the better part of a day to track down and fix the issue, leaving him out of pocket and wasted time.
He's looking at putting on a charge of $50 per paddler per year to get access beyond the top carpark by the shed where the DOC track starts.

I reckon it's easier for us all to pay couple of beers/token donation to say thanks for maintaining the track than have to worry about sorting keys and paying for them!
Don't be a dick, respect his land, stay in his good books by asking permission, our experience is he's very friendly if you pop in to the dairy shed, especially with a cold one ;-)