Rapid Rating


River KM

About the Chief Section Rapids

Named for Moana Roa Chief Haare; a legendary Shotover guide whose memorial can be found in the beech forest above this section. This short gorge contains several stacked class IV-IV+ rapids that are distinct drops (many with sieve hazards) at low water. It becomes continuous, pushy and consequential at high water.

The rapids in this section change frequently, so they’re always worth a scout if you’re unfamiliar with the Shotover. If you’re feeling conservative, scout the whole Chief section at once from the top of the cliffs on river left. Be ready to catch the last-chance scouting eddy above Aftershock; it comes up quickly, especially at high water. Confident boaters can scout as needed between the individual rapids at lower flows.

In order, the named drops are Aftershock, Squeeze, Anvil, Toilet, Oh Shit, and Pinball.

How to run the Chief Section Rapids

Aftershock: This rapid has changed significantly in recent years. There is now a significant, retentive hole at the entrance, after which the current pushes very immediately into Squeeze.

Squeeze: All of the current pushes right into a very narrow channel along the right wall. There’s a hydraulic called Germans at the bottom of the Squeeze that gets bigger as flows increase.

Anvil: After a short pool, the river takes an S-turn, running into the river right-hand wall, then bending around a corner before dropping into Toilet.

Toilet: This rapid has also changed in recent years. There tends to be one larger drop near the top of the rapid, followed by several smaller drops (accompanied by sticky features at lower water).

Oh Shit: The entire river narrows and pushes into the right-hand wall, creating a large, unavoidable pillow feature. Pinball: A longer, relatively straightforward rapid that pushes up against a point on the right wall.