Kaituna / Awesome Gorge (Pari Whakahihi)


As per the Okere Falls section

Gates on Lake Rotoiti outflow

25 mins
Put in: 
below Trout Pool Falls
Take out: 
Red EXIT sign on river left, portage for Pari Tūkino (Gnarly Gorge).
Walk back over farm tracks- see hot tip.
A bit like what would happen if they tripled the flow, halved the width and added 100m high gorge walls to a theme park water ride.
Hot tip: 
Take a sea kayak portage trolley to wheel your boats back along the portage.

There is an awesome gorge run on the lower Kaituna - surprisingly enough - called Awesome Gorge! It starts out from the Trout Pool falls as a meandering stream and then slowly picks up pace through a few class I-II rapids that give you a good taste of what is to come. The river backs off slightly at an open area that commercial sledgers use as a take out. Look for the tyre steps and the farm just past the pylons. Beyond this it picks up pace as the gorge narrows. The corners get tighter and suddenly, like your sphincter, the gorge tightens right up and you're into a 300m section of continuous class III white water. There are no eddies. Once you exit the fast-paced section you round a couple more corners before Awesome Gorge Falls. This is a 3m blind drop - run it just off river left with a good boof over the hole at the bottom - hopefully.

About seven more corners of fast moving water and you are at the take out. Look for the bright orange paint. You do not want to miss this.

The Awesome gorge takeout / Gnarly scouting/portage track is now on river left and it is marked with a red EXIT sign.

Awesome gorge cannot be run on its own. If people commit to this run they are in for a big day and need to be prepared.

Gnarly Gorge is now portaged on river left, through a marked bush track. There are two vantage points that branch off from the main portage track and give the ability to scout.

There is a boat lower at the bottom of the portage and ropes are needed.

This is the information on the signs at the take out for the upper Kaituna run:

  1. The lower Kaituna Gorges are a serious Grade V undertaking. For expert kayakers only.
  2. This is a long, arduous expedition style river trip and will require a strong team, careful planning, food and drinking water. Proper footwear is essential.
  3. It is possible to scout Pari Tūkino (Gnarly Gorge) from two vantage points on the portage track (portage is marked at river level). However, be aware that river hazards move and are unpredictable.
  4. Do not drop in to Pari Tūkino without scouting.
  5. Every descent should be treated as a first descent.
  6. Get up-to-date info from a local before attempting the Lower Gorges.
  7. Please be respectful and have a safe trip.
Graham Charles
Upstream of: 
NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: 


SJ's picture

WWNZ are asking paddlers to cease using the private land on river right to portage Gnarly gorge. In practical terms, that means ceasing paddling Awesome, Gnarly, and Smokey until access issues are resolved.

see https://rivers.org.nz/story/kayakers-resist-kaituna-access-threat for further details.

allen's picture

Otherwise you'll enter Gnarly Gorge http://rivers.org.nz/nz/bay-plenty/kaituna/gnarly-gorge

Xenon_Pirate's picture

Why don't you want to miss the take out?