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.
Apologies, but the video (https://vimeo.com/86592648) 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: http://rivers.org.nz/nz/hawkes-bay/mohaka/poronui-to-pakaututu