Whitewater NZ aims to ensure public access to New Zealand’s rivers and lakes for all kayakers, by undertaking the following tasks:

  • Ensure public access to whitewater rivers
  • Preserve rights of public passage on waterways
  • Negotiate recreational releases with dam operators
  • Collect data on river usage
  • Support local access initiatives

Hawea Whitewater Park | Kahurangi air access | Upper Waiau (St James) | Waiatoto SPARC Didymo DOC General Policy Land Access Adams Wilderness Area Visitor impacts on Wilderness Recreation Taipo access trial Tekapo Whitewater Course Access to the Karangarua Treaty issues Mangahao Madness


Current Issues

Hawea Whitewater Park

Contact Energy have funded a playwave on the Hawea as mitigation for loss of whitewater in Otago. Tony Ward-Holmes outlines the history of the Hawea playwave

Kahurangi air access

Kahurangi NP management plan review proposes restrictions on kayaker access (August 2009).
Kahurangi air access survey (Mike Savory).
Threat to access to rivers in Kahurangi National Park (2000, Jonathan Hunt).

Upper Waiau (St James)

Whitewater NZ made submissions to DoC regarding access to the St James Conservation Area to ensure continued access to the classic Upper Waiau River. A successful descent was enjoyed by a mixed crew of kayakers and rafters over Labour Weekend 2009.

Waiatoto (Aspiring NP)

DoC’s Mount Aspiring National Park Draft Management Plan (PDF, 760K) proposes to reduce existing kayaker access to the wild and scenic Waiatoto River. Submissions were due 30 June 2009 to Mount Aspiring National Park Management Plan Review ([email protected]); we await an updated version of the plan. Personal submission by Jonathan Hunt (PDF, 110K)
Update: September 2010: Access is likely to be retained, following an extensive submission from Whitewater NZ (PDF, 574KB).

SPARC Outdoor Recreation Strategy

In 2007 SPARC led a review of the outdoor recreation sector. In September 2008, Tony Ward-Holmes and Hugh Canard compiled the NZRCA submission on the review (PDF, 843KB) seeking better preservation of recreational amenity, better access and more support for voluntary organisations. SPARC have released their Outdoor Recreation Strategy (25 Aug 2009).


The unwanted algae Didymosphenia geminata (Didymo) has been found on the Buller, Hawea, Mararoa and lower Waiau (Southland) rivers. Drastic measures are required to mitigate the spread of this organism. This includes a permit system for the Arthur River.

DOC General Policy

DoC’s draft General Policies on Conservation and National Parks restrict canoes and kayaks from the Conservation estate. Maree Baker and Tony-Ward Holmes have compiled Whitewater NZ’s submissions on Conservation and National Parks General Policy.

Land Access

Many kayakers have encountered landowner concerns about Health and Safety issues. Tony Ward-Holmes clarifies access in the light of the HSE Act (June 2006).

Maree Baker has compiled Whitewater NZ’s submission regarding the Land Access Reference Group report (November 2003). Earlier this year, Maree Baker and Mike Savory made an initial submission regarding access (March 2003) to the Land Access Reference Group.

Adams Wilderness Area

Details of the proposed Adams Wilderness Area and the Whitewater NZ’s submission regarding access to the Perth, Upper Wanganui and Adams rivers.

Visitor impacts on Wilderness Recreation

Hugh Canard asks some questions about the impacts of visitors seeking wilderness recreation experiences in Tourism, Conservation and Recreation.

Taipo access trial

DoC have arranged a trial of access to the Taipo river with a local farmer.

Tekapo Whitewater Course

Tekapo Whitewater Course
Tekapo course is all go (Ian Russell)
Testing out the Tekapo (Paul Macey, 1998)
Tekapo Whitewater Trust Report to NZCA/NZRCA AGM (Ian Russell, 1997)

Access to the Karangarua

Access to the Karangarua (Tony Ward-Holmes, Jonathan Hunt)
Submissions to DoC regarding the Draft Westland/Tai Poutini National Park Management Plan.

Treaty issues

Treaty Issues (Sarah McRae)

Mangahao Madness

Mangahao Madness (Colin Leitch)


Trip Reports

A heart-pumping trip through Gnarly Gorge on the Kaituna (Mike Dawson, 2005).

Hugh Canard and friends revel in the wild majesty of the Wairaurahiri River in Southland (2004).

Kerry Hoglund and Brett Miller ignore the omens and survive an adventure on the Oparara river (Kerry Hoglund, 2004)

multi-day trip down the remote and beautiful Upper Waiau river (Jono Conway, 2003).

A spring-time descent of the Wairau River (Mark Fielding, 2003).

Source to sea of Buller River in one day (Graham Charles, 2003).

Hokitika River (Kakariki Canyon) (Alan Bell, 2002).

Ruakituri/Mohaka Trip (Clinton O’Leary, 2001) and The Ruakituri river: A hidden gem (Alan Bell).

Solo on the Otoko (Kerry Hoglund, 2001).

Account of the first descent of the Adams (Ian Wiseman, 2000) including Kerry Hoglund’s images (WWGallery / Album: First descent of the Adams).

Kawarau – Nevis Bluff (Bill Thomson, 1999).

A celebration of the Karamea: The Karamea River – Sheer magic (Alan Bell, 2001), The Karamea – A seven day epic (Ben Willems, 1988), Karamea in flood (Deirdre Hiller, 1986) and Karamea Doug Rankin, 1984).

An international team enjoys several weeks exploring the Buller and West Coast regions, kayaking on the Buller, Matakitaki, Wanganui, Taipo, Toaroha, Kakapotahi and Grey rivers (Antonia Harmer, 2001).

Clarence (Kate Batten, 1997)


A 1951 descent of Taranaki’s Mokau river.

Greg Oke describes the first descent of Huka Falls (1981).

Mick Hopkinson describes the first descent of Sargoods Weir on the Kawarau (1980).

Would you believe that over one hundred years ago, the intrepid Park brothers undertook an epic coast-to-coast canoe journey, via the Taramakau and Hurunui rivers? (1889/1978).

A Waiwhakaiho Tupperware Party (Steve Bungays, 1985).

A Clarence River Trip (Jim Hutton, 1981)