Trip report: Whirinaki River, North Island, NZ

I spent ANZAC day 2013 solo-packrafting a section of the Whirinaki River through the Urewera National Park. Here is my sharing.

Stayed under a tarp at the Department of Conservation Mangamate Falls campsite Wednesday night then drove back to Highway 38 and dropped raft gear off at the river in the bushes near Te Whaiti. I continued down to Troutbeck Rd, unpacked bike then cycled back up to the put in. With bike stowed (in bushes) I then rafted about 16kms of the Whirinaki.

The first 8km were not great – willows line the banks and so required a few portages to avoid overhanging branches. Saw a few trout in this section but the river would have been hard to fish through here and I did not bother. Once in the national park, the willows thinned out and the river enters a gorge, which is beautiful. Mostly grade 2 rapids with 3 x grade 3 rapids including a river wide sieve, which required portaging. I really enjoyed the whitewater in the gorge – alot of it seemed really suited to the packraft – narrow passages and pourovers. I did not see fish as before and had little time to stop, anyway. 5.5 hrs of rafting got me out just on dark. I drove up and collected my bike, pleased with the day. The description in provided in is good except for the time it took - I was slower than the time indicated, proably due to the fact that I didn’t have kayak speed through the first 8k.

Here are photos - sorry none of the good rapids!
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What a beautiful river…to have a fly rod, and a packraft. What about fish up, raft out next time?


Cheers Andrew. The gorge is gorgeous, as they say. And that is a good suggestion to fish up and raft out.