The Orongorongo River runs for 32 km southwest through the Orongorongo Valley in the southern Rimutaka Ranges of the North Island of New Zealand. The river and its associated catchments lie within the bounds of the Rimutaka Forest Park, which is administered by the Department of Conservation.
Orongorongo River is the main artery of the Rimutaka Range, draining an area with rainfall of up to 2400 mm / year, which is twice as much as the rainfall at the mouth of the river at Cook Strait. For much of its course the river is a braided river, with a wide bed of greywacke shingle and gravel and a number of streams of water. The gravel bed can be seen as light-coloured areas of varying width in the image to the right.
Because the rainfall in the Rimutaka Range often comes in high-intensity rainstorms, the river is prone to violent floods. The most severe of these floods sweep away most of the river's vegetated islands every 15–20 years. In between these floods, the shingle islands are gradually colonised by various low growing plants, followed by a host of native shrubs such as tauhinu and manuka, and eventually small trees.
The Orongorongo Valley is popular with day walkers and trampers from the Wellington Region. The most popular access is via the Catchpool Valley. The 4 hour return Orongorongo Track reaches the river where Turere Stream flows into it. From there, a number of day and multi-day tracks, ranging from walking tracks to routes, continue deeper into the Rimutaka Forest Park.
Several Department of Conservation huts, some of them serviced, as well as basic private baches dot the Orongorongo Valley, mainly around the river's upper half.
Northern rātā on flower behind Orongorongo River
- Catchpool and Orongorongo Valleys - Rimutaka Forest Park
- http://orongorongo.wellington.net.nz/ - Orongorongo Club
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