The Jollie river lies between the Burnett mountains and the Gamack range and flows into the north east corner of Lake Pukaki. Its a straight forward 16km out and back trip, which can be done as a longer day trip or easy overnighter.
This run needs decent amount of snow-melt or some rain to be runnable; after a dry period or once much of the snow has gone, it can be far too low to be paddleable. So best best is early season (spring). Make sure you’ve got a plan B if you arrive at the bridge and its too low to paddle:
Thanks to Craig Ball for initial information in 2017, and Alan Swann for photos and updates in 2021.
Jollie River carpark to put in above Littles Hut
Take Braemar Mout Cook Station road to the bridge over the Jollie (takeout) and take a look at the flows.
If it looks good, head back to a small carpark and DOC sign about 1km south of the bridge over the Jollie. From here there is an easement along a vehicle track which allows walkin access to the Braemar Conservation Area. Learn more about tracks in the area via the Tasman River Tracks page on the DOC website.
Worth taking a quick scout at the grade III section around Greenpoint, and noting any landmarks/take-outs if there’s any chance you might want to portage that section.
Continue north on benches and braided riverbed to the put in, which is 1 km above the derelict Littles hut. Here, there is an obvious constriction where the gradient increases, to the point where it’d need heaps more water to be paddleable.
Jollie River (II+) from above Littles Hut to Greenpoint hut rapids.
When there’s enough flow, things start off as class II+ paddling down narrow braided river channels.
The plus comes from the fact it is reasonably continuous wavetrains with few easy spots to sort out a swim: ie, if you swim it could be for a very long way, so you need to know you’ll be staying in your boat.
Even though its ‘only’ grade II+ the continous nature of the rapids also means you need to have good self-rescue skills and teammates who can reliably catch and recover a fast-moving empty boat if you do happen to swim and let go.
Greenpoint hut rapids (III)
From about 500m above the hut, the river constricts and steepens slightly, with rapids containing some obstacles which require maneuvering to avoid.
Below the hut it eases to III- for another 500m or so.
Jollie River (II+)
The river returns to the familiar II+ continous wavetrains and braids for a while, then heads through a short gorge before the road bridge.
There’s no major rapids in the gorge of note, but watch out for treefalls and bits of fence which sometimes find their way into the river.
Visual at the road bridge/take out. If it looks like you’ll be scraping at the road, then maybe don’t bother hiking up…