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Tuakopai River / Tuakopai, IV+-V

Average: 5 (4 votes)
Tuakopai River


class IV+ 70mm continuous in 24 hours, class V >80mm in 24 hours
website address http://www.ew.govt.nz/enviroinfo/riverlevelsandrainfall/rainfallmap/872_... and click on dot near Matamata the Rapurapu catchment
Put in: 
Tuakopai Bridge on state highway 29
Take out: 
Next Bridge on state highway 29
creek run with lots of rockslides and drops, technical, tight, fun bedrock gorge. Large boulders in the later section.
Hot tip: 
A classic modern creek run, go with someone who knows it!

Tuakopai River (Tuakopae depending on map or bridge sign)

The Tuakopai or Tuakopae, depending on whether you look at the map or bridge sign, has become a popular creek to run when its raining hard and in the right place. It has the potential for extreme injury so creek boat selection is crucial. The first descent was made in 2004 by local hard men Blair Anderson, Don Johnstone, Greg Thomas and Matt Horder they poked, hoped and found the now famous Douglas Falls, Spa Falls and a handful of others.

The first of many waterfalls happens right after you leave the bridge. Run right and it has a clean pool at the bottom. Portage the ford/weir just after this it has a lot of exposed steel. The river then meanders through dense native bush with many mini rapids for about 15 minutes before the skateboard action starts again. All the rock slides and drops are runnable but you must scout to confirm there are no new log jams

The first significant waterfall is Corkscrew and is a great twisting drop. At higher flows run over the rocks on the right. A few more slides and drops lead down to the most vertical clean drop on the run - Spa Falls, because the bottom pool is only the size of two spa pools! Scout on the right and you can run right or left. The lead in is shallow and you must get a good boof - spa pools are not very deep and people have hit the bottom here.

Just around the corner is the famous Douglas Falls. There has been a log stuck in the bottom for a while rendering it unrunnable. Douglas Falls can be run on the left and with the log but requires a sideways landing and of course not quite flat or vertical The left side offers a slightly easier portage. both sides are available with the easier on the left. It has been run before but has also claimed two serious injuries - a broken leg and a crushed spine. Portaging is fine!

The next waterfall is Pace. This is a fun waterfall and locals enjoy taking off without giving any information just to see the facial expressions of the hapless followers. Just enjoy the ride and remember nobody hits the bottom or any other rocks!

After the confluence with Kaukaumoutiti Stm the flow doubles and river triples in width. When the rapids start again you are into an 800m section of solid class IV+ water with Curtain Falls about a third of the way along. Run hard left, or for simplicitys sake down the middle. After Curtain it's all over and you float down to SH29 bridgewhere you can get out or carry on down and the Te Ahuru which s the Mangakorengorengo and the Wairoa for a huge day out!

To get to the take out: Either do the longer runs into the Mangakarengorengo or Wairoa and use their descriptions. Or from The McLaren Falls turn off on SH29 head south about 5km to the Kaukaumoutiti Stm bridge.

To get to the put in: Continue south on SH29 for a few kilometres until you reach the Tuakopae Bridge

Blair Anderson
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