Rafting and kayaking
The undisturbed Hutt River Gorge between Pakuratahi Forks and Te Marua, with its exceptional water quality, pristine indigenous forest, large boulders and sides of sheer bedrock, is popular for whitewater rafting and kayaking.
To raft or kayak the gorge experience is necessary as the rapids at moderate flows can be grade 3 and the area is remote with only two exits points along this part of the river.
During the summer months flows are generally lower so the trip can take up to 6 hours depending on your craft and water flow, so start out before 10am.
Take extreme care as the gorge can be dangerous and beware of log jams. The Hutt Gorge is not a place for inexperienced paddlers as the only two exits in this section still require a 2-hour walk back to Kaitoke Park Campground or Te Marua and the remainder of the gorge it is difficult to climb out if trouble occurs. However, for people with the necessary skills, the Gorge offers a wonderful whitewater experience with plenty of small drops and "play waves" all surrounded by moss-covered walls and overhanging bush.
Take food, water, survival gear, lifejackets, helmet and wear a wetsuit as the water is cold even in summer. Let someone responsible know your intentions.
The New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association will be able to provide you with more information about kayaking, and the Hutt River in particular.
While the Hutt River gorge is a challenge for experienced kayakers, the river south of Birchville is much more forgiving and ideal for beginner and intermediate level paddlers. There is good river access at the Birchville and Totara Park bridges.
The rapids upstream of the Whakatikei River confluence are a popular challenge for kayakers, while Taita Rock north of Fraser Park is a good launching area for rafters.
Always wear a helmet and flotation vest and go with a companion.