Mohaka - (Te Hoe to Willow flat section)

The Mohaka is an effort worth making.

The drive is a long one (6hrs approx). Up to Palmerston North then through the Manawatu gorge is probably quicker than through the Wairarapa but making a loop may be more pleasant.

The section is north of Napier so follow highway 2 out of Napier past Lake Tutira (where we camped on the Friday night. 12am approx). You take a left turn up Willow Flat Rd about 20 mins past Tutira. The get out is just before an iron bridge. There is a short track, with an iron gate at the top, to the right of the road as you head up river. We left the dry gear car there - and put all 5 boats on to Nic's car. Its handy if you can do this because the shuttle takes forty minutes on a windy gravel road.

We then drove to Te Hoe station, keeping on the main road then taking a left turn at a three way junction, up Mokonui Rd. We passed Te Hoe farm house and had a chat with the farmer. He was friendly and helpful and appreciated knowing when and where we were going so he could account for the cars travelling across his property. Nic warned him that we would be doing the river again the next day as well, which saved us having to bother him again.

We drove down an OK track to a broad gravel bank by the river.

The river starts with a long flat bit that makes you wonder and then turns into Long Rapid.

This first rapid ought to be scouted because it has a couple of chunky drops best avoided. Nic flipped, got stuck between a rock and a hard place and then pushed the eject button. Jo plucked him out a few rapids later with an excited expression on his face. Duncan flipped up as well but managed to roll the third time with at least two or three seconds to spare before the next drop. Phil Clark and I silently chanted ``roll-ya-bastard-roll'' from the haven of our little eddies.

This part is quite continuous and relatively steep and grade 3+ I should think. We took care and Duncan pulled off some more rolls in dodgy places. We got down to Corner rapid which is the grade four rapid.

Most of the river piles into a house size rock which you can go under if you feel lucky, or if life is treating you bad, or you if just fuck it all up. A couple of people have gone underneath and were OK but it just didn't seem like fun to us.

At the start of the rapid there is a drop and a big rock right in the middle of the river. Nasty things would happen to someone who went down the middle, though we did see a passing goose sail smack into the middle of it. It went under for a few seconds, then popped up the side. It passed within a metre or two of me as it came out the bottom. It didn't even blink as it passed and I saw it had a transfixed expression on its goose face like it wanted to stop being a goose and get a job in a city bar.

When we did it, it was relatively easy to cut across to river left and shuffle through a gap between the top rock and the cliff. From there, you could keep left and pass through the gap at the bottom. The alternative route was to catch an eddy on the right then ferry glide across to an eddy behind the rock in the middle of the river and then keep left. I tried this after Jo made it look easy; made the first eddy, missed the second and headed straight for this damn big rock I keep telling you about. I hit a buffer before it and paddled like an epileptic at a techno rave to make the gap at the bottom.

More flat stuff, some spectacular seal launching and then a quite sustained section of grade 3 with some good holes and we were finished.

This last bit is magic and worth saving yourself for. There are rocks you can clamber on and through and some great holes (one of which Phil swam out of) and some good waves to boot.

We visited the pub on Saturday and had a big hoe down with the locals. Not! There was the fattest guy I have ever seen at this pub. If he were lying down you would think he was the bar. Fish'n'chip shop owners would holiday in Bermuda after fulfilling one of his orders. He seemed to be the village postman, tourist guide, fatman all rolled into one or maybe he had just eaten the others and their wisdom was permeating through him. He was also the friendliest, saying 5 maybe 6 words to us - none of them even a swear word. We had a couple of jugs and a couple of games of pool and hi-tailed it back to the wilderness.

We canoed the river again on Sunday and it was as good.

The section took us 5 hrs both days. Though apparently cold in winter, at the final stages of the best summer I can remember, the water was nice and we had two great days in which to enjoy it. We scooted back via the Wairarapa and made it back at a decent hour thanks to the discipline of Nic.


Last update: Thu Sep 26 12:32:43 NZST 1996

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