The start of two BIG river stages that will see teams travel from the mountains all the way down to the sea. First off is the Upper Rakaia section that brings teams downstream, joining with the Wilberforce River, before culminating just above the Rakaia Gorge. This section of river is only open on Wednesday and Thursday so teams will be very focused on getting it done in time, otherwise they will be short-coursed. The river is Dark Zoned (no paddling at night between the hours of 8pm and 7.15am) but teams with packrafts and canoes are permitted to walk down the river bed if they wish - however, they are not allowed to paddle or cross the Rakaia River at any time. After the long trek on Stage 4, walking might not be an appealing option!