A slightly easier run than its upstream cousin – the rapids are similar in style, but the gradient and speed are more mellow. The scenery is excellent and the Pillars of Hercules provide some awesome atmosphere and it is worth it just to see these. The flow opportunities are the same for the other three Tongariro runs. This run has another ‘must make’ take out eddy and if you miss it you’ll be into the Waikato Falls Gorge and it may be the very last thing you do! The Falls themselves have been run but people abseiled into the gorge to do it.
There are two alternative put-ins which access the river immediately downstream from Tree Trunk Gorge. The track on river left starts beside the bridge and is easiest with someone who has done it before and knows the route. To find the start of the track on river right, climb the first hill on the road east of the bridge. Follow the track for a while and look for an old anchor on the ridge above a rather steep pumice bank leading to the river. Both put ins are easier if you lower your boats and yourselves with ropes. Once on the river, paddle upstream to get a different view of Tree Trunk Gorge.
Keep an eye out for some overhead power lines a few rapids below the Pillars. After the wires there is one more rapid and you will see the sign indicating the take out on he left. The track out has a steep section which is easier if you use a rope from the top to lift your boats out.
It is well worth doing all the Tongariro runs in a weekend if there are rain flows or release flows, it makes for some great paddling and a celebration of this wonderful river.