A great road accessible run, through beautiful native bush.
This trip page is derived from a a combination of a trip report by Jamie McAuley and information from Gerard Hill.
Photos courtesy of Izaak W.
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Eglinton River West Branch(III) Cascade Creek to Mistake Creek
The trip begins at the small footbridge over the Eglinton at the Cascade Creek Campground.
The upper section of the Eglinton river snakes through enclosed forest and offers tight, technical lines, with plenty of rocks and logs to manoeuvre around and fairly constant stream of Class II to Class III rapids. These tight technical lines are for an experienced party, not a beginner run. Not recommended after heavy rain.
This section collects trees in the river so be aware of strainers. Often there are river wide strainers, so make sure you always have an eddy in sight and be prepared to portage.
The crux rapid is a steep series of short drops where Plato Creek enters the main river, catch an eddy and scout or portage. (In May 2018 this rapid had a huge log strainer in it, and the best eddy was on the river left; but you always have an eddy that you can catch in sight, otherwise you wouldn’t be doing this run, would you?? 😉
This run took Jamies’ group about 3 hours from cascade to mistake creek, with a fair amount of time scouting and portaging.
From Mistake Creek swing bridge the river flattens and widens to a more sedate float – with sweet views of the disappearing mountains. Get out wherever you please and hitch back to your car at Cascade. (note that far fewer cars head to Milford in late afternoon).
Visual at the get in.
The river was running ~30cms below the girder of the bridge at the get in when Jamie and his friends ran it.
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River is mostly running clear, but there are at least two river-wide trees, easy enough to get out and portage around at low-moderate flow, but might be challenging at high flow.
The main rapid at Plato Creek is clear except for one branch that is easy to avoid near the top. Scout or portage on the left hand side of the Plato rapid.
My experience was more arduous and ignorant than your trip description. Required greater skill and forethought (e.g. that the river in the bush might be a very different grade and gradient than the easy river flats that you see from the road). Also required a more robust craft than my kahikatea-framed kayak with linseed-oiled canvas skin. (A modern packraft would have been better). Took me about 4 hours to get from Cascade Creek down to Plato Creek, where I decided it was a bit dangerous by myself. The next day I spent an exhausting hour hauling the kayak up through the bush to the road, before paddling the last 20kms from Mackay Creek across easy river flats and through the magical small gorge to the Lake Te Anau delta.
As described – paddlers need to be aware of many logs & strainers throughout this awesome section of river. Be ready to catch eddys at very short notice. Theres a river wide strainer not far below the main plato creek rapid. Best portaged on TR though may be quite difficult in higher flows. Also an obvious and major logjam (bank to bank) a few hundred meters after the footbridge near bottom.
A fantastic run, plato rapids are wicked – don’t be put off but (as has been described) always be on the look out for new hazards and be ready to eddy out.
Update: November 2018 from Andy Magness:
“Quite a few river spanning trees. Serious consequences if unable to negotiate pretty technical moves. Advise caution or advanced paddling skills.”
Rivers change with every flood. Rapids appear, move and disappear. Giant boulders move, landslides happen, trees fall in… Treat all descriptions as a snapshot of the river at the time they were written: Prepare for (and be able to react to) the unexpected!