The upper section needs a bit of rain to be worth a trip, but it’s a beautiful valley and a very mellow paddle. Depending on your enthusiasm, time and objectives, you could visit the Ahuriri for a day trip, a short shuttle run, or a long float all the way to Omarama.
Ahuiriri Valley track to Watson Creek
A normal car can make it to the Birchwood Homestead, but to go all the way to Canyon Creek carpark, a high clearance vehicle is advised.
From Canyon Creek carpark, there is a well trodden 4WD track that continues way up the valley. Although the river becomes very small above Watson Creek, there’s still plenty of valley to explore further up. The track is suitable for mountain bikes to Hagens Hut, but becomes a bit more rough and a bit less rideable to Top Hut.
The Ahuriri Valley Track page on the DOC website has more information about access and huts up valley.
Ahuriri River (I) Watson Creek to Hodgkinson Creek
When the Ahuriri is running slightly high, its possible to put on at Watson Creek, though there are likely to be a bit of ‘get out and walk’ through the shallower gravel bars.
The run is all open braids, mostly class I, with some very small wave trains that might make it to I+. The views are gorgeous, including the south faces of Mt Huxley and Mt Barth. Keep an eye out for your vehicle once you pass Canyon creek. Its easy enough to spot the take out if you’re paying attention, just as easy to miss it altogether if you’re not!
Ahuriri River (I) below Hodgkinson Creek
The Ahuriri continues to meander towards Omarama and follows the road for a fair bit of the way. If you wanted, you could float all the way through to Omarama, though the spread out braids below Ahuriri Drop might get very shallow in low flows.
The ‘Ahuriri Drop’ (II)
The only section with rapids of note is the ‘Ahuriri Drop’ (II). There is a marked access point on the river left of the Avon Burn, down to the Ahuriri. The river flows through a shallow gorge, with a handful of class II rapids. The run continues under the bridge, and then onwards until the gradient eases and you select a suitable take out on river right.
Ahuriri at SH8.
The River above Hodgkinson Creek is only really paddleable when the flows are above about 17 cumec on the gauge. Any less than this you’d be walking more than paddling.
The Ahuriri drop looked in good condition at 17 cumecs, running relatively clear. We paddled it at 38 cumecs, and it was brown, angry and more like class II+ or III-