The Arawa Classic River Race is held in the middle reaches of the Waimakariri River. Beginning at Mount White Bridge the course covers 67km of open braided and deep gorge river on the way to the finish at the Gorge Bridge on State Highway 72.

Access to Start

Traveling from the East Coast side of the South Island, access is gained by traveling west on State Highway 73, via Springfield Sheffield and on over Porter's Pass and through the Craigieburn Valley. Mount White Bridge is approximately 1.5-2.0hrs drive from Christchurch.



Introduction to the course

Work in Progress

Section 1
This section of the web site is currently under construction. We are publishing information/images as we go. Check back regularly for more info.

The Start

Section 1
Mt White Bridge. It all starts here! Registration, race briefing, wave start and you're off. The first section is through the inland braided section of the Waimakariri River.

Upper Braids

Section 2
More braided river. Navigation and staying in the main flow should be the main focus through these sections. Paddlers have been known to run out of water by following the wrong channel. Kayaking is faster than walking, so go with the flow!

Rock Gardens

Section 3
The first significant rapid is the rock gardens. The river narrows and flows faster through this section with large boulders interupting the flow and creating some challenges for novice paddlers. Being relatively early in the race, conjestion can be an issue through here as well. Stay alert.

Map 4

Section 4

Goosebery Stream

Section 5
This is the last section of the river above the gorge that is accessible by road. Here you will see race oficials and first aiders on the bank checking on the progress of all race participants. If you're having a nightmare of a day so far, this is the last chance to bail out and hitch a ride back with the crew.

Map 6

Section 6

Top of the Gorge

Section 7
The Esk River feeds into the main flow from the left as you approach the entrance to the gorge. All of the braids come together and concentrate into a single strong stream. Depending on your ability, the emphasis may suddenly change from chasing the flow to chasing the chicken routes.

Hamilton Rapids

Section 8

Map 9

Section 9

Staircase Viaduct

Section 10
The staircase viaduct is the most significant man made landmark in the gorge. It's now about 10km to Woodstock.

Horseshoe Bend

Section 11
There is a useful shortcut to the right under the right flow conditions. A good way to shave a few minutes off your time.


Section 12
You've survived the gorge. Give the race officials a wave as you pass the last check point before the finish.

Lower Braids

Section 13
If you joined in the Prologue Series, you're now in familiar territory. You're on the home stretch.

Lower Braids

Section 14

The Finish

Section 15
The final stretch. Stay focused till the end to avoid the embarassment of swimming across the finish line. The last bluff has been known to catch out tired paddlers. The finish line is just down stream of the gorge bridge. Well done - you've made it!

Course Maps

The map images used in this section have been sourced from "Topo50 Maps" that are freely accessible on the LINZ website. For more information check out the following link

The topo map references are BV21, BW21 and BW22