Whataroa / Barrowman Flat to old SH6 bridge (Lower Whataroa)


40-120 cumecs (roughly 60 per cent the flow from the WRC gauge)

visual, or WRC flow phone for the Whataroa River 083 225 495

3-5 hours
Put in: 
Barrowman Flat
Take out: 
Old SH6 bridge site.
helicopter section 7B or 7C
Big boulder gardens, big water feel.
Hot tip: 
Some of the most stunning gorges you’ll ever see.

Barrowman Flat is a great put in for intermediate paddlers or as one of your first trips on the coast. From here to the take out is mostly class III+ with two or three class IV/+ rapids that are portageable. Two magnificent schist gorges ensure that your scenery dollar is well spent. The second is one of the most spectacular on the Coast and makes the trip worthwhile on its own. Low flows (40 - 70 cumecs) are the best time to be in there as intermediate paddlers and your day will be more enjoyable the less water you have. At higher flows (>90 cumecs) expect some pushy class IV/+ water and less relaxation.

The first major rapid (which is the technical crux) is often portaged on the left side (there is a trail the rafters use). The second crux is in the last gorge. At higher flows there is a great auto boof on the right. At lower flows the hole on the left side is quite trashy. The portage on the right can be a bit of adventure and is a good introduction to West Coast adventure boating. A rope is a good thing to have.

To get to the take out: find the Whataroa River bridge on SH6, turn eastwards on the gravel road on the southern side for 2km to the old bridge site. There is a large parking area, and camping is allowed. Make sure you have a ready stock of insect repellent because the sandflies are rather aggressive.


Graham Charles
NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: 


Stomper's picture

Had a sweet day on this section 12/03/2016 with medium flows. No portages or dramas. Really only one notable rapid where half the water was flowing into a large undercut rock that was slightly sieved out but the left line was easy enough to make. The rest of the river is just read and run with plenty of cool moves and a silly amount of fun waves below the Perth confluence.
One of our party opted to walk in and did so in 4.5hours. The rest of us took the heli. Definitely have to give a big thumbs up to Kevin from Glacier Country Scenic Flights (03 753 4096). There base is right at the take out so super handy and pretty cheap. We flew in at $125pp. The pilot was super friendly, flew well, checked everything twice and made sure we were OK and had everything before flying back.