The Bay of Plenty Regional Council Harbourmaster, Peter Buell, will not re-issue a closure directive for the section of Pari Tūkino (Gnarly Gorge) on the Kaituna river that has been closed since 1 May 2019.
Whitewater New Zealand and members of the Okere Falls whitewater community have been working hard to facilitate this outcome. Our focus has been to improve access and safety in the lower Kaituna gorges. This has been achieved with the establishment of a legal portage track and scouting vantage points on river left of Pari Tūkino (Gnarly Gorge). A huge thanks goes to the Lake Rotoiti Scenic Reserve Board for authorising this access.
Whitewater New Zealand is also lifting the voluntary closure that has been in place for all three of the lower gorges. However, there are significant changes that paddlers need to note.
- Pari Whakahihi (Awesome Gorge) can no longer be run on its own. If you paddle this, you are committing to the whole lower gorges journey.
- The portage for Pari Tūkino (Gnarly Gorge) is on river LEFT. This is marked with a red exit sign.
- There is a notebook on the portage track that all paddlers need to use to log their trip, the reserve board have requested this as a record of track use.
The updated river signage at the start of the run states:
- The lower Kaituna Gorges are a serious Grade V undertaking. For expert kayakers only.
- This is a long, arduous expedition style river trip and will require a strong team, careful planning, food and drinking water. Proper footwear is essential.
- It is possible to scout Pari Tūkino (Gnarly Gorge) from two vantage points on the portage track (portage is marked at river level). However, be aware that river hazards move and are unpredictable.
- Do not drop in to Pari Tūkino without scouting.
- Every descent should be treated as a first descent.
- Get up-to-date info from a local before attempting the Lower Gorges.
- Please be respectful and have a safe trip.
The re-opening is a great outcome and many people have volunteered substantial amounts of time to make this a reality. Huge thanks to the team who put in the mahi. Now the responsibility to maintain this access lies with all paddlers.