Our purpose is to preserve New Zealand's whitewater resources and enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely.

Stony / Upper Stony, IV

Average: 3 (1 vote)
Alternate Name: 


needs rain or spring flow
Mangatete Road bridge 1.0m optimal, <0.8m scrape, >1.6m torrent
1.5 hours
Put in: 
short walk from the end of Puniho Road
Take out: 
Stony River bridge
6.5 km
P19, P20
Taranaki open steep boulders
Hot tip: 
get a real short boat

The Stony River flows from the foot of Bells Falls in Egmont/Taranaki National Park. It is fed from a large sphagnum moss swamp nestled between the Pouakai range and the main peak of Taranaki and finishes its journey in the Tasman Sea just south of Okato.

There are three sections the locals use with a few put in options: The lower section is from Wiremu Rd to SH45 and it is class II-III+ without many pools and takes 3.5-4 hours.

The upper section is shorter but more intense. It needs some good water but is great when it goes. The river flows very fast and eddies are few and very small.

The upper upper section (Boulder Run) put in is about an hour walk up the Stoney River Track at the first point the track comes back to the river. It's steeper than the lower sections with bouldery class IV and a big drop near the top that needs more water to be run. You want slightly lower flows so either take out at the usual put in for the upper Stoney or carry on down and double your fun quotient.

There is a gauge on the bridge at Mangatete Rd, if it’s your first time down checking the gauge is a good idea.

To get to the lower section put-in, upper section take out: From Okato drive up Oxford Rd onto Saunders Rd then turn right onto Wiremu Rd. the Stony River bridge is about one kilometre along this road. The take out for the lower section is just south of Okato on SH45. Park on the right side just over the bridge.

To get to the upper section put-in and the beginning of the Stony River Track: drive another two kilometres along Wiremu Rd and turn left onto Puniho Rd. Drive to the end of the road. Walk along the bushline for about 20 minutes then drop down to the river - once you have found it.

Upstream of: 
Wiremu Road to SH45
NZ Whitewater 4th Edition 2006: 
Chuck Tanguay


Ross Benton's picture

The Stony is an interesting beast that changes from one year to the next. Due to it's nature as described by it's name, in big flows the rocks roll down the river with the water. The great thing about this is that it's a new river almost every time you get on it.
It does however means that the optimum flow is dependent on the last big flow (and any major slips on the mountain) as the river bed at the gauge changes. So the only way to judge it is to take a punt and give it a go, or seek out some recent local knowledge. The regional council have a gauge on the web http://www.trc.govt.nz/rivers/view/23 and as of a run done on the 19/5/2013 about 2.0m is a good level.

For a shorter run on the upper put in at Blue Rata at the far end of Saunders road (turn right at a T-junction, cross a ford and follow the gravel road down to a turning circle where you can park and a track to the river drops off into the bush) This saves the 20 min walk in at the start

This site is a beta version.