Journey: Mountains to the Sea

Check out these stunning photos, taken by Instructor April, on a 6-day journey across the West coast of the South Island with Titirangi Rudolf Steiner school. Read more info about the journey below the photos …

The Journey

Long before the Waimakariri River was a recreational hotspot for the half-million people living on its borders, before it was a water supply for farmers, even before it was a source of food for Māori, it was quite literally a builder of new worlds.

For thousands of years, it has continued the legacy of mighty ice age glaciers that carved through the Southern Alps, pulling loose rock and sediment from its headwaters near Arthur’s Pass and sending them forth in a great alluvial wash from the mountains to the sea. The Waimakariri River, flows for 151 kilometres from the Southern Alps across the Canterbury Plains to the Pacific Ocean.

In Māori, Waimakariri has several meanings, one of which is “river of cold rushing water”. The river rises on the eastern flanks of the Southern Alps, eight kilometres southwest of Arthur’s Pass. For much of its upper reaches, the river is braided, with wide shingle beds. As the river approaches the Canterbury Plains, it passes through a belt of mountains, and is forced into a narrow canyon (the Waimakariri Gorge), before reverting to its braided form for its passage across the plains. It finally enters the Pacific north of Christchurch, near the town of Kaiapoi. This journey using will take you from its upper reaches to where it meets the Pacific Ocean.

Prep Day

Today marks the arrival of the group into Otautahi (Christchurch). What’s left of the day (post-flight) will be spent at the Adventure Specialties office, where we’ll be organising gear, learning how to pack our packs and getting completely amped for the trip ahead. We then enjoy an early night of urban camping at the office in preparation for the next day…

Day One

Today will start with an early drive out to Athur’s pass on SH73. Upon arriving at the confluence of the Otira and Deception Rivers, we will don our packs and tramp up the Deception River. Surrounded by majestic mountains, we will need to work together to pick our route up to Goat Pass. This section of track is well known to those who have competed in the legendary Speights Coast to Coast Multisport Race. When we have finally embraced our inner mountain goat we will be ready to spend the night at Goat Pass hut.

Day Two

In the morning we will begin our descent towards the mighty Waimakariri. Our day starts with a board-walked crossing of some marshland before we enter the beech forest and begin to follow the Mingha River. Along the way there may be some technical downclimbs before we eventually go up and over Dudley Knob and enter open riverbed. Eventually we will reach the confluence with the Bealey River and make camp at klondike Corner.

Day Three

Day three will feel like a bit of a new adventure as we start the day pumping up the rafts, packing gear into barrels and strapping everything down. We’ll leave our packs in the support vehicle and instead squeeze into wetsuits, throw on our helmets and PFDs and grab a paddle before floating our way down the Waimak. This section of river is also well known to those who have competed in the Coast to Coast Multisport Race. The first section begins on open braided sections of river before heading towards the entrance of the gorge, where steep rock faces are lined with native forests. At the end of the day we will carry the rafts up onto the bank and make camp.

Day Four

This will be a more relaxed day as we continue to wind our way done the Waimak George in the Raft. Eventually we will make our way down to Waimak George Bridge. Form here we will get on the bikes and start to follow the Northern Bank of the Waimakariri River. The 80 km ride is a mix of shingle road, stop bank and single track.

Day Five

Today we hop back on the bikes and continue down the Canterbury plains towards the Sea. The final leg of the trip will see us bike all the way to the mouth of the Waimak where it meets the Pacific Ocean. The trip will finish as any good adventure should with a gear unpack and clean up, before we say farewell to the group and you head back home, feeling tired but energised and thoroughly satisfied with your achievements.


If you loved the sound of this journey, get in touch! We can work with you to create a similar journey for your group, or if you are an individual, we can let you know what ‘open enrolment’ options we have coming up.

Find out more about our Adventure With Purpose programmes or get in touch with Kerryn in our head office ( or find other ways to contact us on the Contact Us page.

Let’s go!

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