The Mangahao Slalom Course is a short stretch of artificial Class III water that can be run over and over all day. It’s Parkrafting at its best; just park and play. The catch is they only run the powerhouse and spill water into the Mangaore Stream during times of high electricity demand or excess rainfall.
Just north of Shannon turn right and continue to the Mangahao power station. The Carpark for the Slalom is on the right as the Power Station building appears.
On the Water
Its short and fast designed to let you play and practice your moves. Check the Ruahine Whitewater Club facebook page for organised events and to seek guidance on first time use.
A key is available for the facilities (showers and toilet) from Bivouac Outdoors in Palmerston North. There are even floodlights for night paddling. It may be possible to negotiate water flow for special events. There may be someone who knows on the Ruahine Whitewater facebook page.
The run is only a few hundred metres long, but it is chocka with features to practice cutting into eddies, surfing waves and punching through holes. There are a couple of nice little drops to practice boofing and it’s great for practicing for tight technical runs.
The course is very pushy because the natural state of flow in the Mangaore is a small steep stream. The power scheme dumps 15m3/s into the stream to flow over artificial features. There is a pathway with observation points to walk back to the put-in.
On our first trip there we discovered it’s an interesting place to practice swimming….don’t go there. The posted rules are that you must be a Grade 3 paddler to use the facility. Respect the rules. It’s a long swim to the next road if you miss the (easy) eddy at the take-out or you’re swimming and chasing a paddle. If you overshoot keep going till you hit a road bridge.
The problem with this spot is it’s only used to generate during high demand periods. It is part of the Mangahao power scheme. Two large dams store water from the Mangahao River. Very little flow is allowed to flow down the Mangahao below the dam but that’s another story. In times of high electricity prices / high demand the stored water is released through tunnels and a tail race to the Mangahao Power station (short circuiting the Mangahao and Manawatu gorges). In 2019 it ran most winter and spring mornings. You can ring the staff at the power plant and they will give you an idea of what has been happening. However they can only make an educated guess about tomorrows flow as its controlled out of Head office (in Tauranga?).
When the Mangahao dam is full and there is excess rain it will also spill.
Call the Mangahao power station flow information line on 06 362 7588. When the station is generating power there will be a flow of 12-15 cumecs. The other number to use sparingly is 06 362 7659 (to talk to somebody at the Power Station).
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