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.
At moderate flows you will encounter grade 3 rapids so experience is necessary.
The trip takes 2 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 Gorge is not a place for inexperienced river runners as 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 and survival gear and wear a wetsuit, lifejacket and helmet. Let someone responsible know your intentions.
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.