Wairoa River (Bay of Plenty)
Wairoa River at McLaren Falls power station, as seen from McLaren Falls Road bridge
|Basin countries||New Zealand|
|Mouth elevation||0 metres|
In the mid-1970s the Tauranga Joint Generation Committee proposed a hydroelectric power scheme for the Wairoa River. The newly formed Kaimai Canoe Club (established by Barry Anderson, Bill Ross, Kerry Smith and Peter Entwistle) opposed the scheme at the water rights headings, this was on the grounds that it would destroy fishing, sport and recreation for existing and future generations. A compromise was arrived at by allowing the release of water 26 days a year for whitewater recreation. The last dam diverts water around the river bed to the Ruahihi Power Station.
Every year in February the upper section of the river is home to a kayak extreme whitewater race. The first day is a sprint down to bottom of The Waterfall. The second day is head to head racing down the Grade V Waterfall and Rollercoaster.
The whitewater starts at McLarens Falls, a seven metre Grade VI waterfall (usually not paddled). The first one metre drop is called "Humpty Dumpty", often used as a warm-up. The first major rapid is "Mother's Nightmare" - a long Grade IV rapid finishing with an 3 metre drop. Then follow the few grade III rapids (Helicopter, Double Trouble & Devils Elbow/Washing Machine) Then comes the two Grade V sections, "The Waterfall" (a small drop into a hole followed by a three metre drop) and Roller Coaster. After that there is a Grade III rock garden, a Whitewater Slalom gorge and few short grade III rapids leading up to the grade IV "Bottom Waterfall" (another three metre drop).
- Environment Bay of Plenty - live river flow telemetry data
- Whitewater NZ River Guide - information on the Wairoa River
- Kaimai Canoe Club - Local kayak organisation