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Rangitaikī / Aniwhenua Run, II

Average: 3 (1 vote)


20-40 cumecs
NIWA Rotorua . Ask for the flow below Aniwhenua Dam
3-4 hours
Put in: 
below Aniwhenua Falls, or paddle the Falls
Take out: 
where the road first returns to the river, 7km from the Aniwhenua Power Station turnoff
single channel, excellent gorge scenery
Hot tip: 
an absolute beauty for novice paddlers

This section of the Rangitaiki below Aniwhenua is a great novice section and one of the favourites in the region. It has been kept alive by river users and environmental groups who banded together in 1995 to fight a proposal by Bay Of Plenty Electricity to dam the river to the base of the falls. When dam is releasing it is possible to paddle from the base of the dam down to the falls.
Aniwhenua Falls makes for an exciting put in and kayakers have been plummeting off the edge for years. Things have changed a little after recent floods and there is a ledge you can hit when there is 2.5 cumecs or less running over the falls. Otherwise take lots of pictures and enjoy this kindergarten huck.
Below Aniwhenua the river flows between fantastic walls of ancient volcanic ash. The water is mostly class I-II and when flows are good the rocks are well covered producing great little waves for aspiring surf hogs and there are plenty of pools and eddies making this a popular teaching run.
To get to the put in: from the township of Murupara head east 2km to the turnoff signposted Whakatane, Te Teko, Kouriki. Follow this road for 3.5km to another junction. Turn left and follow Galatea Road for just over 20km. Turn left at a road sign posted Aniwhenua Power Station, cross the dam and turn right. Follow the road to its end by the Power Station just below the falls.
To get to the take out: drive back to Galatea Rd and turn left. Follow this road for about 9km. There is a jet boat launching ramp at Mangamako Stm that has off road parking and is probably safer than the ‘old' take out 1.2km back towards Murupara. It's your choice but there is a ruthless history of vehicle break'ins in this area.

NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: 
Graham Charles


mattja's picture

recent update to aniwhena falls paddled yesterday and found that hitting the centre/left line of the falls there are submerged rocks that can/will bend or break boats. right line was safer even if you hit the ledge... our group named the small finger of rock that is submerged at lower flows the middle finger purely because if hit wrong it f**ks you up

louise.urwin's picture

Niwa number is area code (07) not 06



allen's picture

Just paddled the run from the dam to the falls with 2 gates running. Good Flow, all the rocks in the first rapid were covered.

All rapids were grade 3 - 3+. Big pools after each rapid to clean up if necessary. Waterfall looked clean with more water, no ledges to hit :)

Great run! If the dam is releasing, definetly worth the drive.


nicki0's picture

Current Access Issues to Aniwhenua Dam - Get In

This direct response from BOPE:

Access from the Aniwhenua barrage (dam) is at present restricted to when operational staff are on-site for control of access , normally Monday to Friday between hours (approx) 08:00 to 15:30.

The restriction has been put in place for safety of the public due to the danger of trees felled and partially felled throughout the site by the strong winds recently experienced.
BoPE are in the process of engaging contractors to remove the trees and during this process the site will be totally closed to the public.

This operation is expected to commence within the next week to 10 days and run for approximately 4 weeks, which will include the Labour Weekend period.
Once dates have been confirmed for the felling operation BoPE will extensively advertise the total closure of the site.

BoPE realizes the value of the area for recreation and is working to clear the site within the shortest possible time to again make the site available and ensuring safety to the public.

Sid's picture

There is a class III run that can be run from the lake down to the falls. It's pretty bony, but it does include a few slides and the odd pour over.

To get to the put in walk down to the river below the lake dam. You will almost certainly have to walk the first rapid due to a lack of water. The run includes half a dozen class III rapids. Several of these, including a nice slide not far above the main waterfall made this run worthwhile for us. We decided not to run a 3-4 m high waterfall due to rocks in the landing area, although I do remember running it in the past.

I word about the falls. Back in the day it was a class II drop, that you through beginners of, in the knowledge that they were going to be safe. After a half dozen runs in the weekend I'm think twice about it at low flows. As Graham noted, there is a ledge in the falls. This resulted in the destruction of a creek boat, on what appeared to be a good line with a decent boof.

In terms of beginners: at this flow there was a finger of rock just under the water immediately above the falls. This pushed our class III boater hard left on one run and spun him just above the drop on the other.

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