Ngaruroro R trip report

I recently completed a packrafting mission down the Ngaruroro this summer for 2 mates, which turned out to be a fantastic intro to packrafting. It was inspired by timlusk’s trip from further up the river, and incorporated 1 day of walking with 3 days Grade 2+ paddling. All nights spent in small old hunting huts ($10), which added to the experience. Flow was around 6cumecs at Kuripapango, so pretty low but no prob in the packraft.

The only downer of the trip was the transport options, or lack of, but I guess that’s normal. We left 1 car at Kuripapango, then drove the 1.5hr back up to the end of Whittle Rd on the West side of the Kaweka’s. Kuripapango is in the middle of nowhere, but seemed safe enough, and there was a carpark near the bridge and access to the river.

First night spent at Makahu Saddle Hut, 200m from the carpark, which is very remote and safe I think. Day 1 was a 12km hike from 1000m up to Kaweka J Trig at 1700m. Weather was pretty bad; wind and rain, and snow/sleat (!!) near the top. Clouds parted occasionally to reveal the rugged hills as we traversed the ridges and started dropping down toward the river. Some real nice old beech forest sections, a detour to Back Ridge Biv, then down down down to Rocks Ahead Hut. First glimpse of the Ngaruroro, and our bed for the night.

Next day all amped, we mucked around on the nearby cableway thingy (bloody awesome piece of ingenuity), then jumped in the river around 11am. Took a good 6hrs to get 9.5km down to Kiwi Mouth Hut, but we were taking it real slow and soaking up scenery. Rapids pretty easy, mostly dodging submerged rocks which threw one of our party out. By the last day, we got pretty good at reading the river.

Kiwi Mouth Hut would have been fairly hard to find from the river without GPS. Another bright orange hut (DOC got discount on orange paint?). Day 3 was pretty much the same as the first, 10km with 1 frothy rapid with a 1m drop which dumped me out; Took it at a funny angle and forgot to paddle. Got to Cameron Hut early, so went walkies up the track north which links all the huts together. Damn it is steep! Amazing views of the river valley, and fun Bear-Grylls-running down.

Last day was an early start, and got to Kuripapango at 11ish after another 12km of Grade2/3. Scenery changed from towering 1000m peaks to low hills and forestry, and a little gorge section. The ute was still there, so we piled in and drove the 1.5hr back to the start, then the 5hr back to Auck via Napier for a few cold ones.

Thoroughly recommend the trip for packraft novices on a safe river, or anyone wanting a remote multiday adventure. No tricky gorge sections, so options to portage any rapids you want. Not long days, so you can take your time and enjoy it all. Let me know if you need any more info.

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Nice trip Chris , photos are great! Oh to have water to paddle on…