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The river flows north for 150 kilometres from the Mamaku Ranges past the towns of Putaruru, Te Aroha, and Paeroa, before reaching the Firth of Thames at the south end of the Hauraki Gulf near the town of Thames. In its lower reaches, the river and the nearby Piako River form the wide alluvial Hauraki Plains.
Just before the river reaches the ocean, State Highway 25 crosses the river over the Kopu Bridge, the longest single lane bridge in the country at 463m and the only remaining swing bridge on a New Zealand state highway. The bridge was infamous for the queues of vehicles travelling to and from the Coromandel Peninsula until a new two lane bridge was opened in December 2011.
The crystal clear waters of the Waihou River provide ideal fishing. The river supports large populations of rainbow and brown trouts. A survey conducted in 2009 showed that the upper section of the river support over 700 fish per kilometer.
- Media related to Waihou River at Wikimedia Commons
- "Waihou River Trout Fishing". nzfishing.com. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
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