Just finished a trip on the Waiau in Te Anau. It is a nice scenic trip, easy paddling (mostly class 1 with a few small class 2 wave trains), with a return walk on the Kepler track. I would not travel to Te Anau just to do this, but if you are here it makes a nice day trip or overnight, especially since you can start and finish from town with no shuttle needed.
You can put in a few hundred meters below the control gates on Lake Te Anau (a short walk from town), and then paddle to Lake Manapouri (paddling time about 3 hours). Turn right once you enter the lake, and paddle or walk along the beach for a few hundred meters until you find the shallow bay hut. Take the trail near the hut, and after a few minutes you will intersect the Kepler Track, which is listed as a 5 hour walk back to the control gates, but it could be much faster with only a day pack. The river is dam controlled, we called the folks at Luxmore Jet Boat tours (0800 25 38 26) who will know the river level. We were told it gets much harder if the dam is fully releasing. Being dam controlled was an advantage for us, as we waited out a big rainstorm that raised the levels on the Hollyford.
We made it an overnight trip, staying at the shallow bay hut. Would not recommend staying there without a mosquito net, a tent would be better, as the hut was not sealed up and mosquitoes were bad all night (our experience was not unique, many of the entries in the hut log book mention the mosquitoes).
Packrafting trips and tales from down under.
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