Any, but some rain is recommended to keep the trip moving and exciting
Ngaruroro bridge at Kuripapango
Otaumuri Stream junction, river left
Approx 55 km winding gravel road
NZ Topo U20, U21
single channel, wild and remote gorges, scenic wilderness
Wilderness and worth it. The Ngaruroro is a small, remote and little-known river with its headwaters in the northern Kaweka Ranges. The trip is possible at any time of year, but fresh rain improves speed of travel and whitewater quality. The section below Kuripapango is known as the lower gorge. With extra water it's a very long day of wilderness class 3+ water. Wilderness is the operative word here, and it's a great trip if you take your camping gear and stay out a night. A few campsites can be found on terraces on the first 8-10 kilometres, though the most commonly used site is half- way down the run (approx. 20 kilometres) on the right bank just below the derelict Lyndsays Lodge on the left. Run to the bottom of the rapid and catch the first right eddy and beach. It is a private tarpaulin and kanuka 'hut' which sleeps 10. There are also campsites around the hut (NZ Topo U21 Kereru ref 951863). From Kuripapango the water is mostly class II-III boulder gardens for the first 15 kilometres or so. The river then enters a nine-kilometre rocky gorge. This gorge contains the crux of the paddling - steep pool-drop rapids that reach class IV in high water. A narrow passage with a large rock known as The Barricade lies at the top of the last and hardest rapid. The river eases to class II as far as the Taruarau confluence, with many campsites, and class I to the Whanawhana take out. Users beware that a southerly wind will slow you down considerably. Take extra clothing as the wind can be chilling, especially if any of your party has taken a few inadvertent dunkings. To get to the PUT IN: from either the Taihape or Napier/Hastings side get onto the Taihape-Napier road. It is a long drive whichever side you come in. Kuripapango is about halfway between Napier and Taihape. About 200 metres west of the Ngaruroro bridge is a grassed rest area with a 4WD track leading down onto a lower terrace. You will find a walking track leading down the last 50 metres to the river. To get to the TAKE OUT: head east on the Napier-Taihape road until Otamauri. Turn right at the junction at Otamauri and follow the gravel road to the junction with Matapiro road. (The roads turns to tar seal at this junction.) Turn right onto Whanawhana Road and drive about 1.5 kilometres to the bridge over Otamauri Stream. A track on the right side of the stream leads down to the river. It is essential that your driver goes down to the river and places some sort of marker to indicate the take out!
NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: