• Paul Clark

Kaituna River SUP

One of the destination whitewater rivers in New Zealand is the Kaituna near Rotorua. Okere Falls is celebrated as the highest commercially rafted waterfall in NZ. It is the epicentre for river running on the north island. The national rafting teams train here, and kayakers from around the country gather here to revel. It has a similar vibe as White Salmon, WA; Asheville, NC; and Pucon, Chile.  

(Check out this  video "Car Park of Dreams" highlighting the kayak scene.)

The Kaituna was high on my list of must-paddle rivers on a SUP board. When I arrived in late October, the river was pumping and rain was falling sideways. It didn't make for the best paddling conditions. I had planned on returing by the end of the trip; so, my paddling partner at the time, Conal Hearps, and I packed up and headed south. 

(View video featuring our first week in NZ.)

Wrapping up the month long paddle trip (which has been amazing with some pretty fantastic rivers, as well as lakes, and surf sessions), we are back at Kaituna. Andy Fuller of Day2 Kayak Gear has been our host, housing us and showing us the lines on the Kaituna and other local paddling spots.

After some laps in the slalom park, Joey Saputo and I (with Andy as safety boater) tackled the first big rapid, "Mushroom Rock" aka "Powerhouse."

Several laps and wipeouts later we found the micro spot where we didn't drag over the rocks. A clean run is still to be made, but we had a blast giving it a go. 

Immediately after Mushroom Rock the very pushy current made the move over a pour over difficult to say the least. A sticky hole greeted us. We learned to jump over the hole from the boards as not to be held for too long.

(Watch Instagram clip of my handful of attempts. Good for a laugh, I guess.)

The next drop, Okere Falls, we decided to walk around. Maybe next time at lower, less pushy water we'll give it a try. (Note, this  video of fellow Kialoa athletes Kevin Cullen and  Christian Edie paddle boarding the Kaituna shows the river at half the level we experienced it. Stoked they actually dropped the falls.)

We put in below the falls and had a short but fun run through the narrow gorge with a few Class3s and brilliant fern-lined canyon scenery. Stay tuned for video link....

Thanks Andy for hosting us! Looking foreward to returning.