Thousand of rivers and lakes in New Zealand

near Haruru

Between the thousand rivers, there are a few major rivers like the Waipa, Waikato, Whanganui River, Manawatu, Waihou, located on the North Island and on the South Island the Waimakariri River.

The Waipa

Started in the Rangitoto Range and is 115 km long, flowing on the west side of Te Kuiti northwards past Otorohanga and Pirongia then opens in Ngaruawahia out into the Waikato.

The Waikato

The longest river, originates on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu and flows through Lake Taupo, then north of the town of Taupo are the astounding Huka Falls. The river then winds northwest through the Waikato region and this divides the region’s capital Hamilton in two. This then ends into the Tasman Sea at Port Waikato, south of Auckland. On this river between Taupo and Hamilton there are eight hydroelectric plants that supply 11 percent of electricity in New Zealand.

The Whanganui

With a length of 290 km is the longest navigable river. It starts on the northern slopes of Mount Tongariro and flows northwest, then bends to the southwest near Taumarunui, through the wild wooded area of King Country then flowed south-east along Pipiriki and Jerusalem into the coast of Wanganui.

Fairy Falls

This river has been very important for the Maori population. It was the link for communication with two-thirds of the North Island. This is still stressed in Maori legends. Since August 2012 the Whanganui received a legal identity, a first in the world. In the law this river is now recognised as a person, in the same way, a company is giving it rights and interests. (for more info see NZ Herald)


The Manawatu

An unique river located in the southern part of the North Island, as it’s erosion is unusual, it implies that it existed prior to the existence of the Ruahine and the Tararua Ranges. It starts in the northwest of Norse Wood in the Ruahine Ranges. Then flows first eastward, bends to the southwest near Ormondville and continues northwest near Woodville through the Manawatu Gorge. It continuous in a south-west direction through the city of Palmerston North before it enters the Tasman Sea at Foxton Beach.

The Waihou

James Cook first called it the Thames river. Waihou means ‘new water’. The river is about 150 km and flows north-north-westward past Putaruru, Te Aroha, Paeroa and Thames before it flows into the ocean on the east side. This river has the only swing bridge, Kopu Bridge, built to keep the files of State Highway 25 in control.

The Waimakariri

Is the largest river in the north of Canterbury. It is 151 km and flows in a southeastward direction from the Southern Alps across the Canterbury Plains and enters the Pacific Ocean north of Christchurch. In Maori Waimakariri can mean ‘river of cold rushing water’.

Then you have smaller rivers like:

The Moeraki River

Located on the South Island that runs from the Southern Alps into the West Coast Region. The section above the Haast- Paringa Cattle Track is known by locals for paddling with 4m drops and mostly sieves. It´s a bit of a walk to get there but a river that keeps you on your toes. It is a tight and technical run (grade 4) and 3 rapids that have to be portaged. This then runs into the calmer section of the lower part of the Moeraki river which is popular with tourists for it´s gentler paddling depending ofcourse on the weather.


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