Raukokore River (II)

The Raukokore from Te Kumi Station is a pleasant Grade I-II trip in the East Cape Raukumara Ranges with a wilderness feel. It can be done in a long day or split over two. Description and photos Stu Bilby.

Put in

Put in on the Waikura River on Te Kumi Road. Usually near the road end bridge at Te Kumi station but with a bit of rain you can put in at the Pakira Road bridge for a bonus 5 kilometres of shallow braids. It is 4.5 hours’ drive from Whakatane or Gisborne which keeps the crowds away.

The takeout is at the State Highway 35 bridge near the coast or continue with the fast current and paddle up the Raukokore lagoon (better at incoming and high tide) to the beach carpark by the cemetery on Cemetery Road.
The shuttle is a 2:15 hours in a car or about 4 hours by bike for the energetic. (On the shuttle you cross the Oweka Stream, Mohau Stream and the Whangaparaoa River, these all have enough flow to paddle after rain and are gravelly streams that disappear into bush clad valleys before reappearing at the coast).

On the Water
The paddle from Te Kumi bridge starts with a 1 hour braided section to the Raukokore confluence that will keep you alert. At the confluence the nature of the river changes. The Raukokore tends to run clear and green. Large boulders appear in the river but the masses of gravel from huge slips prevents large rapids from forming and it never really becomes an enclosed gorge. Native forest covers much of the banks. There are numerous lovely campsites on little grassy terraces. The land is mostly private except for the first couple of kilometres below the Waikura confluence on river left.

Waikura Stream just below the Te Kumi bridge put-in

Upstream of the Waikura Confluence the Raukokore emerges from a gorge near the Raukumara wilderness area. This is probably good paddling but walking upstream through the gorge is difficult at higher flows. Green Hut marked on the topo map no longer exists. There is an old trampers route into the Raukokore down Okapua Stream and this is possibly a great wilderness packrafting route (please let us know what you find).

The main Raukokore River (Photo credit Megan Dimozantos)

Middle of the gorge
Bikerafting at the lagoon at the mouth

Below the Waikura confluence the paddling is easy Grade 2. There are some big swirls and flow into cliffs at higher flow but not too many trees in the river. The river is big and fast after rain and it is easy to move at 8 km/hour. About 4 hours paddling from the Waikura confluence to the lagoon. About 5 km east from the takeout is the classic Waihau Bay pub where they filmed the movie “Boy” and a not bad café.


The river is quite large, 18 cumecs average flow, and has a big difference between low summer flows and after rain. There is no gauge on the river and none nearby. The Motu River gauge gives you some idea but it is a bigger catchment and the headwaters are 100 km away. Take a look at the flow at the highway bridge as you cross.

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