Waipa River

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Waipa River
19-9-12 Ngaruawahia Point bandstand, Waipa and Waikato from bridge.JPG
from Waingaro Rd bridge looking north down Waipa River to Ngaruawahia Point bandstand, the Waikato (coming from right) and the Hakarimata Range in the background (19-9-2012)
Origin Rangitoto Range
Mouth Waikato River
Basin countries New Zealand
Length 115 km (71 mi)
Source elevation 703 m (2,306 ft)
Mouth elevation 20 m (66 ft)
Avg. discharge 83.9 m3/s (2,960 cu ft/s)
Basin area 3,050 km2 (1,180 sq mi)
The Waipa River - The Waikato's largest tributary

The Waipa River is in the Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand. The headwaters are in the Rangitoto Range east of Te Kuiti. It flows north for 115 kilometres, passing through Otorohanga and Pirongia, before flowing into the Waikato River at Ngaruawahia. It is the Waikato's largest tributary.

Over 50 km was navigable by waka and Pirongia (Alexandra) was busy as the head of steamboat navigation until the railway was built to Te Awamutu in 1880.[1] However, a 1915 guidebook still said, "Small steamers ply up and down the river from Huntly".[2]

In the headwaters upstream of Otorohanga the river can be very clear during low flow conditions. This section of the river flows through rough farmland and patches of native bush. In this clearer part of the river there can be very good fly fishing for trout, but you'll need to ask the land owners permission to access the river.

Water quality is still poor along most of the river, with excess nitrogen, silt and phosphorus, though E. coli levels have improved with improved sewage treatment.[3]

The Waipa is prone to flooding in its lower reaches as flood flows can be over 100 times (20 to 560 cu m per sec) those of dry flows and the river can rise up to 11 metres.[4]


Listed in order from the confluence with the Waikato and moving south they are:-

looking south from Whatawhata bridge.
  • 1898 Ngaruawahia bridge opened. Collapsed under a mob of cattle 20 December 1916 (see 1917 photo) and rebuilt in 1918.[5]
  • 1914-1958 Waipa Railway and Coal Co. bridge.
  • 1881 (20 April) 520 feet long Whatawhata bridge originally. The wooden structure 15 feet above high water mark[6] consisted of two spans of 80 feet, 7 of 40 and 4 of 20 feet, and cost £3700. Repairs were done in 1909, but was in poor repair again by 1917. For £11,250 a new truss bridge was built over the top of it in 1924.[7] The current concrete bridge, which is south of the original site, was shown on the 1974 edition of the 1 inch Lands & Survey map, but not on the 1965 3rd edition.
Te Rore bridge from south.
  • 1881 (12 August) 400 feet long Te Rore bridge. Replaced 1957.[8]
  • 1865 (about) Alexandra Bridge, Baffin St, Pirongia, originally built by the army.[9]
  • 1882 Alexandra Bridge, McClure St, Whatawhatahoe, Pirongia."Mr. Wright has superintended the construction of the Alexandra Bridge, over the Waipa River, to give access to Tāwhiao's new settlement, Whatawhatahoe (see map), and which will at the same time eventually be on the main line leading into the King country. The bridge will be open now in a fortnights' time, it consists of 6-24 feet spans, and 3-40 feet trusses, a total length of 264 feet, the height being 42 feet above ordinary river level. The approaches and about a mile of road, and a large culvert have been made by Mr. Wright, with Maori labor. The whole will have been completed at a cost of about £1,800."[10] There was a plan to replace it in 1939.[11]
  • 1915 Te Kawa Rd bridge 340 feet long, 40 feet high.[12]
  • Kawhia Rd, Otorohanga
  • Maniapoto St, Otorohanga photo about 1910
  • 1887 North Island Main Trunk railway bridge.
  • 1928 Toa Bridge, Otewa Rd.[13]

External links[edit]


Coordinates: 37°41′S 175°09′E / 37.683°S 175.150°E / -37.683; 175.150