Ohau Gorge (II/III)

A short but pleasant small river gorge on the western side of the northern Tararuas.

Generally too bony in normal conditions, this run requires a little rain to be paddleable. Being on the west side of the range, it can have enough water when the eastern rivers are too low to paddle.

At good packrafting flows, its II/II+ through short rapids with nice pools, some bedrock sections and occasional boulder gardens.

With more flow, you can expect solid grade III action.

Thanks to Martin Wilson for the information and photos.

View Larger Topographic Map

Approach by foot

Leave a car at the Poads Road bridge, taking care not to block river access or traffic.. Walk a km or so to the Poads road end, then take the poled trail, which is part of Te Araroa.

In November 2023, there are warning signs that the track is closed due to slips but they are easily passed.

The route crosses farmland (stick to the track!), before heading into native forest. The track follows the gorge on the true left all the way to the South Ohau river fork. There are several view points of the river below to tease the curiosity.

About 1.5-2hrs from the road bridge to the Blackwater/Ohau confluence. Cross the Blackwater stream bridge and then put in at the gravel banks of the Ohau 2 mins further on.

On the water

The rapid sections start straight away!

The first kilometer or so is steeper and narrow. Athough the rapids here are generally short, most need scouting due to the reduced visibility.

We had a flow of 6.3 cumics which was just enough to get through all sections. At times the walls are steep and the bush hangs low. We made some careful maneuvers to avoid submerged logs. You could escape by scrambling back up to the track in some places so didn’t feel too committing.

The bush gives way to farmland, and continues gently to the Poads Road bridge take out.


Ohau at Rongomatane 

At 6.3 on the gauge, the grade was between II and II+. Expect grade III at higher flows.

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