Rangitīkei River

Coordinates: 40°18′2″S 175°13′31″E / 40.30056°S 175.22528°E / -40.30056; 175.22528
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Rangitīkei River
Rangitīkei River near Mangaweka
NZ-Rangitikei R.png
The Rangitīkei River system
Native nameRangitīkei (Māori)
CountryNew Zealand
Physical characteristics
 • locationKaimanawa Ranges
 • coordinates39°4′52″S 176°1′52″E / 39.08111°S 176.03111°E / -39.08111; 176.03111
 • elevation1,480 metres (4,860 ft)
MouthTasman Sea
 • location
 • coordinates
40°18′2″S 175°13′31″E / 40.30056°S 175.22528°E / -40.30056; 175.22528
 • elevation
Sea level
Length253 kilometres (157 mi)
Basin size3,948 square kilometres (1,524 sq mi)
 • average66 m3/s (2,300 cu ft/s)[1]
Basin features
 • leftMangamaire River, Whakaurekou River, Kawhatau River, Mangawharariki River
 • rightMoawhango River, Hautapu River

The Rangitīkei River is one of New Zealand's longest rivers, 253 kilometres (157 mi) long.[2]

Its headwaters are to the southeast of Lake Taupō in the Kaimanawa Ranges. It flows from the Central Plateau south past Taihape, Mangaweka, Hunterville, Marton, and Bulls, to the South Taranaki Bight at Tangimoana, 40 kilometres (25 mi) southeast of Whanganui. The river gives its name to the surrounding Rangitikei District.

In 1897 the river flooded and all the bridges over it (Vinegar Hill, Onepuhi, Kakariki railway bridge and Bulls) were damaged or destroyed.[3] Port of Rangitikei, at the mouth of the river was also washed away and never rebuilt.[4] Other notable floods were in 1882,[5] 1917,[6] 1936,[7] 1958,[8] 1965[9] and 2004.[10] Until 1908 a ferry linked Tangimoana to Scotts Ferry.[4] Onepuhi, or Onepuehu,[11] bridge was shown on the 1941 map, but missing from the 1968 and later maps.[12] Further decking for the 807 ft (246 m) long[13] Onepuhi bridge was suggested in 1958.[14]

The river is a popular leisure and recreation area for jetboating, white water rafting, kayaking and fishing, and includes public camp grounds along its banks, including Vinegar Hill, New Zealand. Its sheer vertical "paapa" (clay) cliffs (unique to this part of New Zealand) and deep canyons provide the perfect setting for adventure activities such as bungy jumps and flying fox rides. The cliffs, which display oxygen isotope stages, have been incised into the soft Quaternary,[15] 2.6 to 1.7 million year old, marine sediments as the land has risen since the last ice age.[16] The rise has left 19 terraces, which have been mapped.[17]

Part of the river was used as the Anduin River in Peter Jackson's movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Both rainbow and brown trout throughout the river system with fish in the upper reaches reaching trophy size (i.e. over 4.5 kg) with the average through the rest of the system being around 1.5 to 2 kg. Fish numbers are good throughout the system though there are fewer fish per kilometre in the upper reaches. This is made up for by the quality and size of the fish being larger in this section.[18]

Springvale Suspension Bridge[edit]

The Springvale Suspension Bridge crosses the Rangitīkei River on the Taihape–Napier Road (known as the Gentle Annie).[19] It is located on the Ngamatea Plateau in the district of Ngamahanga, 41km north–east of Taihape and 111km west of Napier.[19][20] It was built to support farming which increased in the inland Patea region after World War I and the need to transport stock and wool to the port at Napier.[19][21] The bridge was designed by Rangitīkei County engineer Sydney Mair and built by William Salt. Construction commenced in 1923, the bridge opened in 1925 and it was known as the Rangitīkei Bridge or Erewhon Bridge after the name of the farming block. The name Springvale came from the nearby sheep farm.[19] The bridge was replaced by the nearby Callender–Hamilton bridge in 1970 as it was no longer able to carry heavy trucks.[19] As an early example of a suspension bridge with reinforced concrete towers its importance in engineering heritage was recognised by Heritage New Zealand designating it as a Category II historic site.[21]

The bridge has a span of 61m supported by 7m high concrete towers at either end. The deck is made of wood and at 2.4m wide is a single lane.[19]



  1. ^ NIWA Water & soil miscellaneous publication no. 48 (1983)
  2. ^ "Environmental monitoring data for Rangitīkei". Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA). Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  3. ^ "THE FLOODS IN THE RANGITIKEI. WANGANUI CHRONICLE". paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. 21 April 1897. Retrieved 17 December 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b "Scott's Ferry Site". www.heritage.org.nz. Retrieved 18 December 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "DESTRUCTIVE FLOOD IN THE RANGITIKEI RIVER. COLONIST". Colonist. 16 June 1882. p. 3. Retrieved 19 September 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "RANGITIKEI RIVER IN FLOOD. WANGANUI CHRONICLE". Wanganui Chronicle. 10 July 1917. p. 7. Retrieved 19 September 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ "MANAWATU RIVER IN FLOOD. MANAWATU HERALD". paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. 27 February 1936. Retrieved 19 September 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "New Zealand Flooding ( 1958-02-21 )". hwe.niwa.co.nz. Retrieved 17 December 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "Manawatu District Council Coastal Reserves Management Plan" (PDF). 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ "Tangimoana flood response put to test". www.scoop.co.nz. 11 May 2015. Retrieved 19 September 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ Alexander, David (February 2012). "THE RANGITIKEI RIVER, ITS TRIBUTARY WATERWAYS, AND OTHER TAIHAPE WATERWAYS" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "Series: NZMS1 Marton Sheet: N143". www.mapspast.org.nz. 1968. Retrieved 18 December 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Bridges: Feilding Cliff Road Via Stanway Main Highway No 308 - Rangitikei River-Bed at Onepuhi Bridge, Showing Foundation Test Bores | Archives Central". archivescentral.org.nz. 1949. Retrieved 18 December 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ Parliament, New Zealand (1959). Parliamentary Debates.
  15. ^ Ballance, Peter (2009). "New Zealand geology: an illustrated guide" (PDF). Geoscience Society of New Zealand.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ TIM NAISH & PETER J. J. KAMP (1995). "Pliocene-Pleistocene marine cyclothems, Wanganui Basin" (PDF). University of Waikato.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ "Soil Bureau map 142-1 River Terraces in the Rangitikei Basin" (PDF). 1972.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Rangitikei River Trout Fishing "Rangitikei River Trout Fishing " Archived 8 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ a b c d e f Daisley, Simon; Astwood, Karen (2014). Springvale Suspension Bridge (PDF). IPENZ Engineering Heritage Record Report. IPENZ.
  20. ^ "Springvale Suspension Bridge". www.doc.govt.nz. Retrieved 11 February 2022.
  21. ^ a b "Springvale Suspension Bridge". New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 11 February 2021.

External links[edit]