Retaruke River

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The Retaruke River is a river on the North Island of New Zealand. It joins with the Whanganui River just above Wade's Landing and downstream from Taumarunui. The river flows through the farming communities of Upper and then Lower Retaruke Valley. Downstream from this junction is the Mangapurua Landing with its Bridge to Nowhere, servicing the ill-fated Mangapurua Valley farming community.

Whakahoro[edit]

Whakahoro (39°6.65′S 175°3.98′E / 39.11083°S 175.06633°E / -39.11083; 175.06633) is a small (now mostly empty) settlement located on the junction of the Retaruke and Whanganui Rivers. It had several streets, notable Lover's Lane, and Dempsey Ave. Here still stands the old Whakahoro School (Image) building. This has been converted into a stop over hostel for down river canoeists. Here the current Lacy's Bridge crosses the Retaruke River. (Built in 1932, to replace an earlier bridge built 1915/16.)

Historically, Whakahoro's Wade's Landing was a stopover point for the riverboats steaming up and down the Whanganui River. This landing was located just below at the confluence with the Retaruke River. It was here that wool from the Retaruke valley's sheep farms was originally freighted to Wanganui for eventual export.

Just above the confluence still stands Lacy's hotel, which is now a farm house. It had its own separate landing, tennis courts, and on occasion (in the 1920s) locals would meet (come out of the bush) for a friendly game of Rugby union in their hobnail boots.

Over the Whanganui River was the site of a Māori community, the land was subsequently leased to the Rusling family for sheep farming, but now has reverted to regrowth. (The Roadway and Camp Road from here to the Republic of Whangamomona[1] are nolonger maintained by the New Zealand Government.)

At one point there was a river boat (Image) semi-permanently anchored at the junction. This river boat served alcohol beverages. As the King Country was a dry area, such beverages were actually banned; the boat was considered "offshore" from the King Country.

Interestingly, Wade's Landing has made itself into various modern hand-held GPS databases, probably due to its historical nautical significance. Today a Jetboat can be chartered locally to take passengers up river to Taumarunui or down river to Pipiriki and Jerusalem.

Lower Retaruke valley community[edit]

Portions of the Lower Retaruke Valley were settled about 1900 by government run farm ballot. Other portions were independently purchased from the Māori community. The land was then cleared, grassed, and sheep flocks herded in from Raurimu to stock the hills.

The valley previously had a tiny Mangaroa Primary School(39°7.22′S 175°8.06′E / 39.12033°S 175.13433°E / -39.12033; 175.13433). At a location further up there still remain the community hall and sports field, here there are annual children's Christmas parties, occasional Dances/Social and the annual Retaruke Easter Sports Day are run.

Access to the Valley is via three main roads: Oio Road, Kawautahi Road or the Raurimu-Kaitieke Road from Raurimu. However on foot the valley can be accessed via the old Mangapurua Road, or by jetboat or via the Whanganui River. (Other access routes such as the Kokako Road & Kuotoroa East Road (to Ruatiti), Te Mata Road from Whakahoro to Taumarunui have long since been abandoned. Some of these roads were examples of pack horse tracks that were expanded to roads during the Great Depression 1930s as job creation schemes.)

Historically the wealth of the valley has come from the production of wool. Early on there were also some small dairy farms producing cream/"butterfat" for the Kaitieke dairy factory that was located in Piriaka near Taumarunui.

Kaitieke County[edit]

The Retaruke valley is contained within the original Kaitieke County.

This county was created by the Kaitieke County Act 1910.[1]

The Kaitieke Council Chambers were located at Raurimu near the old Raurimu District High School.

The Kaitieke County stock yards are located at the junction of the Upper and Lower Retaruke Roads 39°05.55′S 175°14.87′E / 39.09250°S 175.24783°E / -39.09250; 175.24783. There stands the World War I memorial, a set of stock yards for auctioning of sheep stock, and a defunct manual telephone exchange. Previously in near proximity of the stock yards there was a postal depot, a general store and then an automatic telephone exchange.

Upper Retaruke valley community[edit]

Then 1 km up the Upper Retaruke Valley road is the location of the annual Kaitieke Collie club sheepdog trials. Next is the location of a "Victory Hall". Further up the valley there was a coal mine; it was near this mine that fossil whalebones were reputed to have been found.

Tributaries[edit]

Tributary Name Length (km) km From Mouth Confluence Coordinates Altitude
Near Erua Road River source 39°15.60′S 175°20.58′E / 39.26000°S 175.34300°E / -39.26000; 175.34300
39°05.31′S 175°14.66′E / 39.08850°S 175.24433°E / -39.08850; 175.24433
Kawautahi Stream 39°04.22′S 175°13.11′E / 39.07033°S 175.21850°E / -39.07033; 175.21850
Whanganui River River Mouth 0 km 39°06.65′S 175°03.98′E / 39.11083°S 175.06633°E / -39.11083; 175.06633

References[edit]