Kayaking on the Waimakariri River

Before heading away on your trip it is critical that you check the weather forecast and the river levels. These sites are up to date and accurate and will help greatly when planning your training.

Step 1 - 


Use the Canterbury 'River Flows' links below to check the following limits:

Remember to never get on a rising river. 


Waimakariri Esk: This gauge should be a maximum of 0.8m and DROPPING


Waimakariri Otarama: This gauge should be a maximum of 150 cumecs (m³/s) and DROPPING


Waimakariri Gorge: This gauge should be a maximum of 2.0m and DROPPING


Waimakariri Old Highway Bridge: This gauge gives an indication of cumecs (m³/s) in town and therefore progress of the water content on the river.



River Flow Information:


  • Waimakariri Esk: Next to Waimakariri River, 2.5km downstream of gorge entrance, measured in height.
  • Waimakariri Otarama: Located 5km upstream of Woodstock (30km down the Gorge), Measures volume of water in the Gorge.
  • Waimakariri Gorge: The 'Gorge' bridge AKA The Coast to Coast take-out bridge, measured in height of the river.
  • Waimakariri Old Highway Bridge: The old bridge next to State Highway 1 at the coast, affected by tides.


Step 2 - 

Use the 'Weather Information' links below to check the following:


Rainfall/Precipitation - Look for consistency and quantity. 5mm per hour (or more) is a lot especially if it keeps consistent. With the radars look for the colours associated with larger rain quantitiy. (Red is usually the heaviest rain). Rainfall means rising river!


Wind Speed - Check the high country and Arthur's Pass NP forecast. Ensure wind speed is less than 55kmph.

Note that the speed is often the predicted average and does not account for gusts of higher speed.


Temperature - The lower the temperature, the colder! Generally rule is 0.7 degrees Celsius per 100m elevation change.

So if the AP National Park forecast @ Avalanche Peak (1833m ASL) is -5°, then the temperature at the Mt White Bridge 'put in' (550m ASL) would be 4.8° Celsius. Of course this is a rough estimate but is a good place to start. 

This isn't usually a limit on temperature but will help you prepare for the conditions (Although we hope you are always prepared with extra warm gear anyway).



Weather Information:



Metservice is NZ's leading meteorology provider windy woodstock




Metvuw is an alternative website with data collected from the USNWS

Comparing more than one chart provider can increase probability of the forecast



Step 3 -


Rainfall Information:

ECAN (Environment Canterbury) Rainfall Data

  • Arthur's Pass - Tributary to Waimakariri upstream of Mt White Bridge ('Put In')
  • Carrington - Tributary to Waimakariri upstream of Mt White Bridge ('Put In')
  • Mount Byrne - Near Harper Pass, Upper end of Thompson River (Tributary of Poulter)
  • Ranger Stream - Next to Poulter River. Downstream of Thompson and Poulter confluence
  • Bull Creek - Cox River where Bull Creek confluences in. Cox River Flows into Poulter 16km upstream of Waimakariri
  • Grasmere - Lake Grasmere. 6km South of the Mt White Bridge 'Put In'. Flows into Cass stream that enters just 300m downstream of 'Put In'
  • Kanuka Hills (Esk River) - Next to the Esk River, 19km upstream of the Waimakariri confluence 
  • Waimakariri Esk - Same location as River Level gauge. Next to Waimakariri River, 2.5km downstream of gorge entrance
  • Cheeseman - At the Ski Field. Covers Craigieburn Range. Flows into Broken River, which flows into Waimakariri 1.5 upstream of the 'Red Iron Bridge'. Or 16km downstream of gorge entrance.



resizedimage700255 waimakaririlarge

Aerial photo of the Waimakarri River above the Esk and Poulter Rivers.