flow from NIWA Rotorua 07 346 1950, ask for the flow at Murupara
The Rangitaiki is a great run for paddlers looking to cut their teeth (not literally) on lots of class III water with the added bonus of one class IV drop. It has lasted the ravages of time and while many people have moved on it is still where many North Island paddlers run their first class IV rapid. Besides, the run has lovely scenery and plenty of continuous class II-III action.
Having diced with high speed logging truck death and possibly got lost on the drive to the put in (don't blame me) unwind through the first 200m of flatwater to the top of the old slalom site - scene of NZ's world cup slalom event in 1991. The first of the rapids take you past Rock A (avoid this one as it has killed people before) and Rock B (feel free to find a Rock C) then eases briefly before Fantail Falls and Jeffs Joy. These can be inspected by exiting on the right and groveling down amongst the toetoe (native grass known for slicing you to shreds) to the viewing platform.
Things happen quickly once you drop down the steep ramp of Fantail Falls. Make what ever eddies you can but don't expect to fit a crowd in them. The final plunge over Jeff's Joy is a high speed rush and a rock wall will pass by in a blur, or you'll be upside down and not see a thing.
Jeff's Joy was named after Jeff, surprisingly enough, whose surname has eluded me for years. Jeff was a tyre-tuber of great repute who worked in the forest around Murupara. He accompanied one of the first trips down the river in the early 1970's. Apparently he tubed the top section and by the time he got to the final drop (now named after him) he was unconscious from the beating he took on the way. His mates duly revived him and he lived to tell the tale and have a rapid named after him. Good on ya mate.
The big pool below Jeff's is a good place to regroup and collect any gear and repair any damaged egoes. From here it is a kilometre of class II-III to the ‘flat stretch' - another great Kiwi naming example. This is a good place to take out if you don't want to do the lower section or put-in if you didn't want the upper.
The lower section is an even gradient class II-III section ideal for intermediates and it is difficult to differentiate one rapid from the next - so I won't bother. Be aware that getting to the side in the Rangitaiki is difficult because of the bush and toetoe. This makes rescues and gear retrievals tricky. Always keep an eye out around the next corner for trees in the river. Rafting companies use the river regularly and are a good source of information regarding new hazards in the river.
You need a permit to access the Kaingaroa Forest. The forest is managed by Timberlands and permits can be obtained from Independent Security Consultants Ltd (ISCL). See http://www.tll.co.nz/permits
Independent Security Consultants Ltd (ISCL)
66 Tarewa Road (Near Aquatic Centre)
Phone: 07 347 8880
To get to the take out: turn off SH5 between Rotorua and Taupo towards Murupara. Just before the Rangitaiki river bridge (at Murupara) turn right onto a gravel road just next to the Forest Information. Drive 1.1km to a sealed road (Kiorenui). Turn left. Drive about 1.7km to a sign indicating River Access and Rimu Rd. Turn left and drive down to the river, stay left at the fork. Murupara to the take out is 3.7km.
To get to the put in: Return to the sealed road and turn left. About 4km along there is a road signed Tautika Rd. This is the road into the ‘flat stretch' for taking out from the top or putting in for the bottom. It is about 3.3km from the turn off to the carpark. About 500m past the Tautika Road turn off is Ngahuinga Rd and the route to the upper put in. Stay left at any major junctions and drive 3km down to the river. If you get lost remember to just stop and put your hand up.
Egarr_Comments: slalom course; number of..rapids; fast flowing; Wheao to Murupara