Whangaehu / Whangaehu Upper (Quarry to Te Tui)


Any but snow melt or recent rain is better
2-3 hours
Put in: 
At quarry on Whangaehu Valley Rd, 12.5km south of SH49
Take out: 
Across farm at Te Tui farm entrance - 3.8km south along Whangaehu Valley Rd
3.8km along Whangaehu Valley Rd (or 10.9km to Colliers Bridge)
Continuous Class III with good flow.
Hot tip: 
Bring your own drinking water.

At the quarry on Whangaehu Valley Rd (E2720025 N6182735) park up and descend an old creek (steep) on the upstream side. Pick your way down through rocks and cutty grass then across a muddy swamp and you are at the river's edge, phew! You can leave a car at the Te Tui farm entrance (E2719770 N6177085) or do a longer trip right down to Collier's Bridge. Allow 2-3 hours to Te Tui farm take-out and expect an hour of uphill boat carry.

The river is continuous Class III at most levels with 2 new rapids that should be scouted. These have formed since the recent lahar came through. The first is a river-wide feature which has a sticky hole on river right at higher flows (boof on river left) E2717940 N6181580). This is about 1/3 of the way down. Later on 2/3 of the way down and after a right hand bend is a very steep drop with a rocky outflow which will cause damage to anyone upside down etc. Scout this from river right and/or run a less spectacular line on hard left (E2718730 N6179420).

Make a point of bringing your own drinking water as the W originates from the Crater lake on Ruapehu and is naturally acidic as well as passing by the Karioi pulp mill. Enough said.

The Whangaehu is great for new Class III paddlers with lots of rapids but nothing too intimidating apart from the 2 rapids mentioned above. In November 2007 there were a number of trees and logs in the river - probably left over from the lahar.

If you are fit and have plenty of time it is best to run the Whangaehu from the Quarry right down to Collier's Bridge rather than taking out at Te Tui. This will avoid the big slog out at Te Tui. If you have less experienced paddlers then they can put-in at Te Tui as the lower run is easier with less frequent rapids (see Te Tui to Collier's Bridge)

Hutt Valley CC and Ruahine Whitewater Club (Alan Bell)
NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: 


mskayak's picture

A bunch of us from Wellington tried to do this section the other week (May 2019) & found the put in at the quarry was super overgrown - wouldn't recommend (or at least bring a machete!). After 3hrs of bush bashing we still didn't make it down to the river. Blackberries etc were far too dense. Highly recommend getting in further upstream at the bridge near the Whangaehu Marae (39°29'47.3"S 175°28'44.7"E). This section takes another 1/1.30hrs to the quarry. Really fun G2/3 rapids. We did all 3 sections to Colliers Bridge & took about 6hrs. Super fun section!

jason4's picture

Some of us from the Vic Uni Canoe club paddled this section on Sunday the 5th of Sept 2010. I had paddled the lower section from the station to the bridge in June with the Hutt club. I texted Alan for some info, called Lea for some more info. Then we were off to find a river that none of us had done. We found the quarry, eyed a descent to the river, changed and dropped our boats over the fence. 3 of us ran the shuttle, 2 stayed with the gear. I was pretty sure I would recognize the getout, and none of us wanted to actually walk down to the river to look at it, due to the steep nature of the station the river runs through. We decided to be uncautious and worry about the take out from the river. Then drove back to the put in. We bashed down to the river from the north end of the quarry. It took several minutes and we got a little muddy. We put onto a flat section of water that took a hard right a few hundred meters later. We surfed a little there and continued down. Found some fun in grinding our kayaks along the graywacke walls. The river was pretty mellow for a few k's. We found some nice play spots, and worked on ferrying to small eddies. After about an hour of surfing small waves and grinding on the greywacke ledges at water level the river became noticeably steeper. Nice bouncy rapids with some hydraulics to dodge, or punch through when we were feeling adventurous. One narrow section with several tight turns forced our only swimmer of the day. I was in front and paddled past a pour over that would be a nice boof for my mates. I turned to signal this meter tall boof, to see a kayak wrong side up. I watched as a few roll attempts failed. Then in a bit of horror, I watched an amazing upside down boof off the before mentioned pour over. The kayak and kayaker penciled in. The paddle was flung off into the atmosphere in a most unnatural and dramatic fashion. Back to the kayak, no movement, or hands visible. I begin to fear that our brave kayaker may be unconscious. I paddle furiously toward the kayak. Then to my relief a head appears. We quickly ferry into an eddy. Other than a bloody knuckle and a nose, all is good. Shortly after we continue down the river. The gradient remains interestingly steep. We all enjoyed the strange hydraulics created by the greywacke terraces at water level. The second hour was filled with eddy hopping, boat scouting, and Dean freaking out about finding the get out. We scouted a few spots but they didn't look right. We continued to enjoy the rapids, and harass Dean. Many nice waterfalls cascaded down the steep walls to shower the river. One rapid had a tree spanning a few channels of the river and took a few minutes of scouting, but Nick found a line and we all bounced down to an eddy. Finally we recognized the ridge that the station and the road are on, and a few kilometers later I recognized the get out/ put in. It was a great day on the river and we plan to paddle this run many more times in the future, and the walk out at the end is worth it, unless you feel like paddle the lower 10k. I found that the water quality, ie. smelly and acidic, much diluted after a lot of rain fall. cheers