I put this site together well over 20 years ago. Things have changes a lot in that time, but these rivers are still largely the same.

I still kayak in the surf and take the odd river trip but most of my kayking these days is Canoe Polo.

New Zealand has a vast range of rivers to Kayak.Following are some of my favorite rivers in the North Island.

K-Gorge (Ohinimuri River)

The Karangake Gorge is a short, fast, high volume trip which is only paddleable in flood. The trip starts with small Grade II- IIIrapids, with a few play waves and holes. The then gets steeper with one long, continuous Grade IV rapid. There are many dangerous weirs and some play spots. In high flood it can become Grade V.

Waitaphata Stream

The Waitaphata Stream is a tributary to the Karangahake Gorge. It is only paddleable in flood conditions. It is a narrow steep stream with numerous small waterfalls, many of which are blind. It is important to scout these rapids as they may contain log jams. Heaps of fun in high flood, but can be dangerous.

Wairoa River

One New Zealands most popular rivers, with large Grade IV- V rapids. There is also a Grade II section with a great play wave and fun, challenging but safe rapids. This river is dammed and is paddleable on 23 releases dates a year. It is also paddleable in flood but can be very dangerous.


The Waipapa is a small stream that flows into Lake Waipapa on the Waikato River. It is mostly shallow and wide, but in a few places it flows into deep narrow chutes. One of these rapids is known as the Hydroslide Rapid. The river is great fun, but only paddleable in flood. In very high flood there can be large play waves.

Mangaotaki River

The Mangaotaki is a tributary to the Mokau and is only paddleable in flood. The top section is very steep and fast, with many log jams, rock seives and waterfalls. At high flows this is not paddleable. The bottom section is Grade III with one compulsory portage. It is very scenic and has a few play spots.

Mokau River

The Mokau is only paddleable in flood. There an almost endless supply of fun Grade III - IV rapids, with many play spots, and fun long high volume rapids.