Kaituna River


A long time classic in the Central North Island, the Kaituna is famous for its waterfalls, park n’ play spot and its magical deep green gorge. It really is the epitome of sport boating’ with easy access, short run, low commitment and close to a large population base.  

The run starts at the slalom course just below the control gates and winds its way into a bush lined gorge. It begins with some great waves and ‘the chute’ which is popular with slalom and beginner kayakers. At the old power station the river splits, most take the right over the 2.5-meter Okere Falls and through the Weir, alternatively the left takes you down what is known as ‘race line’ or ‘tail race’. The river continues down with nothing really of note apart from a nice wave at certain flows.  

Tutea Falls is next, from the cliff bound eddy, the horizon line is obvious. A well-timed boof hard right gives a clean landing and almost dry face. The more adventurous can try there hand at the left line or catching Sam’s eddy right on the lip at lower flows. It is worth taking this waterfall seriously, as plenty of people carry scars from being pushed onto the bottom of the river, grazing faces, breaking noses and paddles. It is possible to carry your boat down Hinemoa’s steps and put in below the falls if you wish. There are seven more class 3 rapids below the falls, including Skateboard Ramp, Boiling Pot, and The Abyss. The final feature at the take out is the well known “Bottom Hole” and is a true park n’ play heaven.  

Below the play hole is Trout Pool Falls. This gets run regularly by experienced kayakers but is to be taken seriously as it can dish out server beatings to even the most experienced kayakers. If it is your first time seeking local advise on line choice is a good idea, as well as having a throw bag positioned on river left by the lip of the falls.  

The Kaituna has been popular since 1992 when commercial rafting got things humming in the river community. Since then it has become one of the most used runs in the country and is an incredibly valuable resource. Local and international paddlers flock to this river every summer.  

Flows are read off the control gates at the put-in. Each of the gates is numbered in divisions of 100mm (which equates to approximately 3 cumecs) therefore 3 gates at 300 is about 27 cumecs. It is run anywhere from 200 all the way up to open gates. Above 200 is good and anything above 800 is fast and pushy.  


Credits: WWNZ and Graham Charles (NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006). CC BY-SA 3.0 NZ. RiverGuide 2019.

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