Waikato River, Rangiriri to Hoods, 3 days on the Te Pae o Kaiwaka Trail)

  Colin Tent
Duration 3 days, 2 overnights in tents and a duck shooters whare
Paddling Approx 4 hrs plus breaks per day
Kayaking area Rangiriri (on SH1) to Hoods Landing, Waiuku
Check in 10.30am at Rangiriri for Rangiriri Hotel pickup
9.00am at Mercer
8.30am at Waiuku for Kentish Hotel pickup
Minimum Age 16yrs to have single kayak
Family groups can be accommodated on separate trips
Prior Experience Not necessary

Cooking gear and camping equipment supplied, bring your own food on Freedom Trips

Minimum Numbers 2 Adults


2012 - 2013 Price List

    Guided Kayak

(includes free return transport from Waiuku Base)

Length of Journey Price Trip
3 Days/2 nights POA Rangiriri to Hoods Landing
(Pub to Pub)

    Freedom Kayak

(includes free return transport from Waiuku Base)

Length of Journey Price Trip
3 Days/2 nights $225pp Rangiriri to Hoods Landing


We begin our three day Waikato River Journey at Rangiriri on SH1. Those who arrive the night before our trip can get accomodation, dinner and breakfast at:

The Rangiriri Hotel (approximate cost $80pp, food and accommodation )

The Last Post Tavern, Mercer (motel, cabin or tent sites, a number of local food outlets)

The  Waiuku the night before or night after trip (B and Bs, Motels and camp grounds accommodation, food your choice of fish and chips to 4 star restaurant).

Rangiriri is a New Zealand Heritage Site. It was here during the Waikato Land Wars of 1863-64 that a small band of 350 to 400 Maori manning a defensive redoubt of earthworks and trenches faced 1500 British troops and seamen supported by gunboats and artillery. The controversial surrender of the Maori defenders marked the turning point of the war. An audiovisual presentation of the battle can be viewed at the Rangiriri Battle Site Heritage Centre and tearoom over the road from the cemetery containing the graves of the British soldiers. Those with time can walk what remains of the defences and Redoubt.

As you leave Rangiriri in the morning on the east bank of the river for the next 18 km is part of Te Araroa, the New Zealand - long walking trail. The trail also passes  alongside the Waikato's second largest freshwater wetland (7000 hectares of swamps and bogs) inhabited by large numbers of native and introduced bird species.

You can have lunch on any of the islands shown on your trail map.

After 25 kilometres easy paddling you spend the first night on the river near Mercer, in tents alongside the hulks of two of the early paddlewheel steamers (P.S. Rawhiti II and P.S. Freetrader) that used to ply the waters of the Waikato River from Hamilton to the sea at Port Waikato. (Alternative accommodation, the Last Post Tavern, Mercer, at your additional cost)

Next morning you pass under the Caesar Roose Bridge and Tuoro Island at Mercer (just off SH1) In the early 1900's Tuoro Island was the home of Caesar Roose, the pioneer riverboat man of the Waikato. You drift down the river past the cliffs at the end of Pioneer Road (named after the military gunboat Pioneer one of five armoured paddle steamers from the Land Wars of the 1860's when the river was the main access to the fertile lands of the central Waikato).

As you paddle quietly down the river away from the noise of the motorway it is easy to imagine what early journeys were like with todays stands of native bush while the hills have been cleared for farming.

After lunch you pass under Tuakau Bridge. Soon 18 km of easy paddling is over and you spend our second night in a duck shooters whare on Whatamakiri Island. Camping

Day three, after a hearty breakfast paddle past the Elbow and head into the islands of the Waikato River Delta. The islands are home to many species of duck and shags (cormorants) plus native fantails, kingfishers, pukeko and the rare Austalasian bittern. These islands hide the dozens of duckshooters' maimais and whitebait stands that are inhabited by many keen locals during the open seasons. You may rest at a maimai for lunch.

There are a number of opportunities for photo stops throughout the trip - bring your camera (we can supply waterproof bags).

A short paddle after lunch brings you to Hoods Landing near the old Awaroa Stream that was the portage route to the southern Manukau Harbour and later the town of Waiuku. After three days and 62kms of gentle paddling your journey finishes with a short drive to Waiuku.

For more information about this trail checkout Te Pae o Kaiwaka.

Those of you that are continuing on will be transported to SH1 at Bombay to catch your transport to Auckland, Hamilton or Rotorua *Those of you that are staying over will spend the night in Waiuku at the Kentish Hotel.

Kentish The Kentish was opened in 1853 by Edward Constable and holds the oldest continuous “Publicans Special Licence (No 47) for the sale of spirituous liquors” in New Zealand.
Dinner and breakfast are available in house or at a number of nearby restaurants and cafes.

StressFree Adventures shuttle to SH1 at Bombay the next morning to meet buses going North, South or to Coromandel and trains to Auckland leaves at about 8.30am.

Or you may extend your journey by spending one or two days kayaking the sheltered waters of the Manukau Harbour Bays (See Waimanu Trail )