Waingaro River (IV) Forks Hut to Paynes Ford

The Waingaro in Golden bay has been run mostly as a heli- kayak trip from the forks hut but it’s probably only been run 10-15 times in total, it is definitely an exploratory type adventure run.

For advanced packrafters, I’d suggest that it is bucket list material: incredibly spectacular country, prolific Whio numbers and over 20km of back to back white water.

Video speaks louder than words, so feast your eyes on this: The flow was 14 cumecs on the gauge when they arrived by boat at the take out….. Thanks Deane Parker for the vid, and to Nathan Fa’ave for organising a selection of Real Meals for us to try.

Thank you for Martin Wilson who provided the initial info and Deane Parker who provided the commentary below:

View Larger Topographic Map

Hike in

6-7hrs hiking in to a 4 bunk hut on the Kill Devil Track. An old miners trail, it is mountain biked by the hardy, so keep your eyes/ears out for high speed 2-wheelers.

Paddle out

From the forks the white water builds up to a sub gorge, that eases at Porthouse flat. It’s possible to drop off the track and put in here for a shorter trip. 

Not far below Porthouse is the main gorge. Approximately 3km of larger boulders and more committing drops easily grade IV at all flows. The gorge starts and ends with the hardest drops. I dislocated my shoulder in one of these mid gorge on my last trip in there. 

Below this the rapids are relentless but significantly easier and pool-drop in nature and you’ve still got 15km to paddle. They all still need thorough consideration. Arrange permission to exit over private farmland after you exit the gorge (go for a scout and have a yarn) or a long paddle out to Paynes Ford. 

It’s world-class, completely underrated and should be on any aspiring advanced packrafters list. The headwaters have also been paddled both the Stanley and I did the First D on the Waingaro above the forks.


Waingaroa at Hanging rock. 

<5 = Too steep & bony to paddle

5-10 = Still a bit bony with wrap potential. IV

10-25 cumecs = Ideal flows; advanced paddlers, IV (The video above was at 14 cumecs)

>25 cumecs = Only the most experienced parties, IV+/V-

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