My Top Three White Water Rivers to Paddle on the West Coast


Further Faster athlete and Greymouth local Ryan O’Connor shares his top paddling spots on the West Coast.


It should be noted that to paddle these rivers you need to be a solid grade 5 paddler with knowledge of the area or you need to paddle with someone who does... 


1: The Upper Kakapotahi 

The Upper Kakapotahi is one of the only grade 5 runs on the west coast that can be accessed right off the road. Heading south from Hokitika you can find this river just past Ross.

The upper section can be paddled in as quick as 7 minutes or as long as an hour depending on what you choose to do. The Upper Kakapotahi is a short gorge with fun, clean drops not to mention some incredible scenery along the way. At the right flow this river is some quality, clean grade 5 whitewater.


2: The Crooked

Probably my favourite spot on the West Coast is a 40 minute drive from Greymouth. The catch here is to get to the entrance you need to walk 3km in with your boat. Now if you know the area you can do this in about 50 minutes but it can take up to 3 hours if you don’t have any experience. The best way to describe the hike in would be knee deep mud, dense bush and steep inclines…

But once you get there The Crooked provides some of the best local grade 5 whitewater with super deep gorges, crystal clear waters and it is only a short drive away from Greymouth. It doesn’t really get any better than that1

 The Crooked River West Coast NZ

 Ryan Launching into the depths of the Crooked Gorge.


The Crooked River West Coast NZ

The Auto Boof Rapid on The Crooked.

3: The Perth

 The Perth river is one of the more challenging paddles on the West Coast and requires a heli ride in from Whararoa. But the time and money to get here is all worth it as it really is a West Coast classic. The Perth features a bit of everything from super steep drops, deep gorges and pushy whitewater. *not for the faint hearted. Add this to the incredible scenery and geography the West Coast has to offer, this is one river to add to the list.

The Perth River West Coast New ZealandBloody large boulders on The Perth. 


Ryan O'connor paddling

Ryan paddling the portage rapid on The Perth River.