Copland River (III/-IV) from Architect Creek Hut

A wild west coast valley with some challenging paddling in solid flows and an optional trip to a famous hot spring.

Thanks to Dan Clearwater for the initial page. The page was updated on December 2020 with info From Alan Swan, and Feb 2024 with info from David Stephenson.

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The Copland Track

The Copland track is very well marked and easy to follow. Apart from the first crossing at Rough Creek, its almost a dry boot trip to Architect Creek.

Tramping up to Architect Creek. / D.Clearwater

Architect Creek Hut is great, but only has 2 bunks, so its worth bringing a tent (plent of good camping around). About 3 hours from the road end.

You could easily stretch this trip out by leaving your paddling gear near Architect Creek and visiting the Welcome Flat hotpools (another 3-4hrs up the valley). Welcome Flat Hut requires advance bookings.

See the DOC Website for more information and updates: Copland Track

Copland River (III/-IV)

Enter the river just downstream of the Architect Creek hut or 700m upstream at Architect Creek itself for a pleasant grade II warm up.

Downstream of the hut, things get busy, with honest grade III water. Some sections are quite continous: think of the consequences of a swim, and how you’d perform a rescue.. Everything is portageable!

Further downstream, keep a look out for a distinct 90-deg left then right turn. Just after this turn there is the grade IV section. This runs for a few hundred metres, it has approx four 1-2m boulder drops. This section can be easily portaged on river left.

Copland River / A. Swann

The river then eases with predominately class III rapids. Some have some big holes that need avoiding ;0)

Copland River/ A.Swann collection
Copland River/ A.Swann collection

Before too long, the river starts to slowly ease and becomes mostly class I with a few fun class II rapids until the confluence with the Karangarua.

Karangarua River (I/II)

Below the confluence, the volume doubles, with some larger wave trains and long flat sections. On a windy day it might be a little slow going at times.



The west coast gets biblical amounts of rain: The Copland seems to paddle nicely at medium flows: ie, not after a very long dry period, and not after heavy rain. Good luck!

2 Trip reports Log your trip

  1. Scott Morris says:

    Awesome river with good recovery pools most of the G3 stuff.

    Slight corrections: the closest put in is slightly *downstream* of the Architect Creek hut, not upstream. Upstream is all bluffs. Highly recommend walking upstream to Architect Creek for 700m of G2+ warmup. We enjoyed that section.

    We reckon the G4- rapid with 3 drops to it is more at the “a” in Copland, not the “R” in river.

    ~5 hours for us with lots of scouting. Thanks for the writeup, fantastic trip!

  2. Kate Lord says:

    Super trip! Definitely recommend stashing your raft at Architect creek and continuing on to Welcome Flat Hut for the night. It took us 5 hours paddling to get from Architect creek back to the car.

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