A beautiful and relatively easy West Coast River. Great for a cruisey days paddling, between hitting the Arawhata and Waiatoto. 😉
The Jackson would make a great and easy bike raft trip or of course you can hike, hitch or car to car paddle.
It has a great side trip up to Lake Ellery on route. Another diversion is heading over Martyr Saddle and checking out Monkey Puzzle Gorge, also worth a look.
Drive in –
It’s about a 20-30 mins drive from Haast to the Arawhata River bridge take out, about 35-40km, then a further 12km on gravel road alongside the Jackson River. 45mins total drive time.
2km North of Haast take the Jacksons Bay Road at the Yellow petrol station and head towards Jacksons Bay. The Arawhata River bridge is the take out, leave your retrieve car at this location in the lay by on its SW side and either bike, hike, hitch or drive up (2 cars/ retrieve driver) the Jackson River road towards Martyr Saddle.
We started about ½ a klick North of `the Big bend` marked on the topo. Obviously, it’s a road side paddle so you could start at any point, Lindsay Flat or Teapot Flat are other obvious choices.
On the water –
With a drop of only 80m over 12km and a relatively small catchment, the paddling is usually relaxing. Some short sections of grade 2 exist in the upper reaches around boulder gardens.
Large trees are the main hazard, some of which span the entire river. It is obvious in Spring or high flows the hazards and the upper reaches would be more continuous grade 2 and would require alot more care. In March, in low flow , when we paddled it was predominately grade 1 with only one small grade 2 boulder garden near the top.
The rivers flow rate certainly picks up and is considerably more in the lower reaches with 22 small stream inlets along the rivers track.
A side paddle upstream to Lake Ellery is definitely worth a look and gives a contrast to the Jackson. (apparently this is used by jet boaters so be aware of this hazard and also downstream from Island Flat where jetboaters access the Arawhata)
Once the river meets the Arawhata it obviously becomes a much larger volume river and runs for about 1-2k to the bridge.
Look in the river as you head up the road. Easy as.