Waipori / No.3 Dam to No.3 Powerstation, III-IV
The Waipori River drains Lake Mahinerangi and flows down through a series of dams to join the Taieri River on the Taieri Plains near Dunedin. When water is released in the upper stretches of the river, it creates steep, technical water in an attractive gorge surrounded by native bush. For the trip to be possible, the hydro company has to be spilling water from its No. 3 Dam, or when there has been heavy rain.
The river can easily be split into three different sections or run together, whatever you want, or are capable of.
The first section begins below the No. 3 Dam, near Waipori Falls village with 500m of class III-III+ rapids. The river then eases to class II and III. Two Douglas Fir trees on the left bank herald the approach to a short class III+ - IV rapid, where the river divides around a rock island. The left is the usual channel. Take out if you want at the No. 3 Power station below a two-arch bridge after about 3km. To continue, paddle down the lake for 1.5km to the No. 4 Dam, which is portaged on the right.
This section was paddled regularly through the 1990's by local Dunedin paddlers, but then fell out of favour for a number of years. It was run again in 2005 by Glenn Murdoch and Mike McWhirter who experienced loads of trees in the river which necessitated scouting for routes through trees.
Take it easy, and watch out for the trees!
To get to the take-out from Dunedin, drive south along SH1 to the Taieri River bridge. Continue for about 4km and turn right onto the Henley-Berwick road. From Berwick (about 5km), follow signs towards Waipori Falls. A gravel road leads up the valley, initially on the true left and then on the true right. The road begins to climb away from the river after about 9km at the No. 4 Power Station.
To get to the put-in, continue for about 7km, past the No. 3 Station to the Number 2A Station and No. 3 Dam, just near the entrance to Waipori Falls village. Park outside the No. 2A Station, carry down to the left of the powerhouse, and put in on the true right below the No. 3 Dam (about 400m down from the powerhouse).