This could be a quick morning outing, or add in a short walk up to Lake Daniell to turn this into a weekend adventure. The walk to Lake Daniell is a classic first tramp for beginners and families, and with good reason. The track is well benched and maintained by DOC, making access easy, and the river is a fun, scenic paddle with a few strainers, a couple of grade II rapids, and some good photo spots from the bridge at the sluice box.
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There is a DOC campsite at the start of the track. Up at the lake is beautiful camping, good fishing and the new Kōhanga Atawhai – Manson Nicholls Memorial Hut. The hut is well thought out and equipped for small trampers, but be aware, you do have to book ahead. Click here for booking site
Team: Timothy Hargrave, Nicole Symons and Pilly. Special thanks to chief porter Dylan Owen.
Start from the Marble Hill campsite, about 1km East of Springs Junction. Follow the track to Lake Daniell, which is a well formed, easy to follow track. You can scout the river as you walk up the track. After about 3km the track comes right up next to the river, before the track climbs to a high point opposite Pell Stream. This is a good option to start the trip if you want to avoid the grade two section.
For those wanting to paddle the upper river, keep walking until you find a wooden bridge crossing Frazer Stream. From here it is about 50m of bush bashing to reach the put in. If you are staying overnight, it is only about 2km to Lake Daniell where you’ll find the hut alongside plenty of campsites. Camp by the hut to enjoy the firepits, firewood, cooking benches, tables and toilets, or walk 5min into the bush to find a quieter spot.
The first section of the river was a bit bumpy in places, and there were a few log jams that had to be portaged, but these were always short and easy.
The river flow picks up after the confluence with Pell Stream. The river winds its way through a couple of gorges, where a few grade two rapids are encountered.
We scouted a couple first. The biggest could be easily portaged, and while it wasn’t a hard grade two rapid, it was followed sooner after by a strainer.
The river becomes more relaxed the further downstream you go, until reaching the confluence with the Mariua River. From here you head through the ‘Sluice box’, a deep, narrow gully where the track crosses over a bridge. This is fast and fun, but keep your eyes out, as the exit is on the true left after leaving the gorge.
From here it is 5 minute walk back to the car. We stopped here, though if you continued down the Maruia it looked like it could be a good paddle to the State Highway.
Visual. There hadn’t been any recent rain when we paddled, but the lake level was up. There probably wouldn’t be enough water in dry summer conditions.