The Matakitaki is one of the larger Buller tributaries. It is a popular kayak run due to it’s proximity to Murchison.
There are three runs. The Lower Matakitaki, not covered here, is a portage for Packrafters (tales of broken limbs and kayak pins abound). The Mid Matakitaki is a short run that has a number of popular play features. The Upper run starts at the Glenroy confluence. The best of both packraft runs is achieved by doing what’s known as the Lupper (lower Upper) from Mint Creek.
There are, no doubt, upstream runs that Packrafters will tick off in the future.
To Get to the Take-Out
From Murchison drive about 9km up Matakitaki Road and turn right after the seal ends. An access road leads down to a car-park on the river plain. It has quite limited parking. Take note of the route across the paddock.
These accesses are here by the grace of the farmer and the hard work of local paddlers. You know the drill; gates as you found them, slow past stock, don’t waste electricity by getting zapped by the fences. If someones been a dick and left litter pick it up.
To Get to the Put-In
Continue up the road to the Horseshoe Terrace Bridge and cross the Matakitaki. Note – do not run the gnarly rapid under the bridge it has a dangerous undercut. Continue 2km until Maruia Saddle road crosses the Glenroy river (in itself a short challenging Class III/IV run). The put-in is after the bridge.
The intermediate (mid Matakitaki) put-in is a grassy road shoulder and gate with private property signs. It is road reserve down to the river. Unless you are going to play on river features all day, or have very limited time, you are better off heading up to the next put-in.
The put-in for the “Lupper” is just after Mint creek. An unformed public road (co-inciding with the farm track) leads down to the river past a farm shed.
On the River
From the Glenroy confluence it’s 5km of Class I/II down to the Mint Creek put-in. It’s a wide riverbed that will need water.
Below Mint Creek is particularly scenic as you float towards the “Old Man of the Buller” peak. There are some great eddies in this section for practicing S crosses and hanging stern draws.
The mid Matakitaki put-in is passed after 5km (10 km from Glenroy). A couple of km of wide shingle bed heralds a short (1200m) gorge section.
After a further 2km of shingle bed a large white rock marks the take-out.
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Feature photo Eszter Horanyi