Mohaka River, North Island, NZ, Trip Report

After having to cancel a previous opportunity due to rain and high water, I got my chance to walk in Waitangi Day 6th February and float 60km of the Mohaka River solo from Poronui Station down to State Highway 5 near Te Haroto.

I was going to do it over 4 days but rain forced me (sound familiar?) to take an early exit and I did the round trip from Auckland over 3 days. The river is inaccessible by road for much of its length but I did see a couple of guides with their fishermen on the second day and campers at the Mangatainoka Hot Springs enjoyed the rain with me on the second night. Other than that, the river was mine to appreciate alone.

On day 1 I drove down, hid bike in bushes at the Poronui Station turnoff from SH5, then drove in to Poronui. The walk in is very pleasant 14km through the station, a high country working cattle and deer farm which is also the home of a luxury sports lodge.

Day 2 there was some floating and some walking starting with the Oamaru River, the main tributary of the Mohaka. The water was scratchy until the confluence with the Taharua, after which it was floatable (but the charmingly named sphincter rapid just down from the Taharua was portaged). The trip was class I and II with lots of paddling required to keep speeds up from here down to the Mangatainoka hot springs.

The class II+/III section down from the hot springs was rafted on day 3 with the gorge providing a Triassic feel in the mist and rain. Beech trees gave way to more manuka as the Mohaka progressed toward the bridge at Pakaututu. The river then winds its way through scenic forestry, native bush and cleared big steep country down to SH5. I couldn’t have asked for a better hitch – first car took me all the way back to Poronui and so I avoided 20km bike ride I thought I had coming in the rain.

With the low water the gauge at Glenfalls read less than a 1m when I started but was a little over a 1m by the time I finished in the rain. Higher water again would have more of the rapids fun but in the conditions only the few down from the hot springs were exciting. Still, a great trip that I will have to do again some day.

Photos here:

Apologies, but the video ( lacks any real river time (I didn’t get my camera out in the rain) but it gives a feel for the walking and camping scenery of the upper section anyway – and footage of a fish I got on the first day. Cheers.

More info here:

Another really well shot solo effort. Really liked the transitions where you appeared/disappeared. Thanks for posting.

Keen to paddle this section one day as your video shows how beautiful it is and the idea of the hot springs appeals. Have paddled the lower section on the Mohaka in a large raft and loved it - amazing atmosphere and some largish rapids.


Looks like a great trip Chris, beautiful scenery and rivers (nice rainbow too:)
Thanks for posting - Haydn.

Thanks guys. Always a pleasure to see what others are up to so trying to do my bit to contribute. Cheers.

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the writeup!

This ones been on my list for a while. Did you consider rafting the Taharua River instead of walking through Poronui?

Great pix btw… what camera/lenses did you use?


I considered the Taharua but opted out this time - the write-up on says there are grade 4 patches lower down and I was by myself so took the safer option of walking. The Taharua sections you can see from the trail look like nice paddling though.

Camera is a Sony NEX-7 with 18-55mm kit lens and ultrapod. I usually use a polariser when filming or ND filter/polariser for photography.

Your mate Mark Thomas here at the office alerted me to your Ngaruroro trip and sent me link to your facebook pics earlier this week. Good to see your write-up here too. Your hills were much bigger than my hills!

I’d be up for a group paddle at some point if you are keen. As a suggestion, the Kaituna is pretty safe for learning grade 3+ on, with appropriate safety kayakers in place. Starting below Tutea falls is a good option.



Haha, small world ay! Good to e-meet you Chris. Seen you around the geocaching forums too, so I bet we’ve been to the same places :slight_smile:

Yeah, absolutely keen for a trip sometime? I’ve got Waioeka R on my list of missions, and Taharua/Mohaka ofcourse. And Motu, oneday. But yeah, keen to try a Gr3, so Kaituna might be it, thanks.

Pretty cool pix for a non SLR! I tend to lug my D300 around, but maybe I should cash it in for a Nex-7.