Kaituna River Rafting, New Zealand
Okere Falls to Trout Pool
Length: < 1 mile/ 1 hour
Gradient: 75 ft/mile
Kaituna is short and thrilling! If you are in the area (Rotorua Region of the North Island) it is well worth a stop. You wouldn’t know it when you are in the canyon but it is surrounded by tranquil rolling farmlands. The run relies on releases from a dam just upstream from the put-in.
Commercial trips have been hucking people off the 20+ foot (7 meter) waterfall for decades. The conventional way to pay to see the run is in a raft but adventure seekers can also pay to be kayaked down the falls.
While the companies have been doing this for a long time there are still plenty of flips and swims at Tutea Falls. Commercial trips take 2 to 3 hours with about an hour on the water and costs just over $100 New Zealand currency.
There is a company that offers double kayak trips for people who have never been kayaking, the only requirement is that you are less than 80 kg (176 lbs). The guide paddles behind you.
The access is easy and the run is so short one person can run the shuttle while everyone else has fun at the play hole above take-out. The run is doable for solid class IV boaters if they take out above Trout Falls.
There is more paddling to be had on the Kaituna below Trout Falls.
Kaituna Rafting and Kayaking Highlights:
Put-in is at State Highway 33. There is a trail that runs much of the river allowing for an easy scout and nice walk. Once on the river it is nearly impossible to scout.
Mile 0: State Highway 33
Below put-in there are some fun gates and an opportunity to warm-up with some eddy hoping. For the first quarter of a mile there are a few fun class II and II drops.
Mile .3: Okere Falls (IV)
This fun rapid is partially formed by an old diversion dam. Most people run right of the island. But there is a line to the left. Both route require running a nice drop at the bottom. Below here the canyon stay narrow with busy water but nothing substantial.
Mile .5: Tutea Falls (IV-V)
This 20+ waterfall is straight forward as waterfalls go. That being said it is a waterfall, rafts routinely flip and people have taken bad swims here. Kayakers like to try to boof a little right.
Mile .55 – .75: The Abyss (II+III)
Below the falls is a tight bending canyon with class II/III ledges and holes. Towards the end one drop has a cave at the bottom on the right. After the cave is a fun play hole just above take-out.
Mile .8: Take-out
Take-out on river left just below the play hole. Downstream is Trout Pool Falls (V/V+).
Mile .83: Trout Pool Falls (V/V+)
This drop has a nasty hydraulic. While it looks appealing there have been plenty of scary swims. Hence most people take-out above it.
Mile .84 Lower Take-out
A big pool below the falls has a take-out on the left.
Downstream from Trout Pool Falls is the incredible Gnarly Gorge (V). Read more about the lower Kaituna Runs.