The Mohaka River rises in the Kaimanawa, Ahimanawa and Kaweka ranges. The Maungaharuru Range blocks its passage to the sea and forces it north-east by 40 kilometres where it passes around the the end of the range at Willow Flat. With its narrow gorges, variety of rapids and spectacular backdrops the Mohaka is one of the best rafting rivers in the North Island; in the past it's also been studied for hydro power.
A compelling feature is the great outcrop at the junction with the Te Hoe River known as Te Kooti's Lookout. Being from Gisborne I have always known of Kooti's masacre of around 70 settlers and Maori at Matawhero in November 1868, and of the campaign in Turanga (Gisborne) district to try and catch him, but it's only recently I realised that he killed a similar number at Mohaka (the village at the river mouth) in April 1869. How is it that so many of us know so little of our own history?
"In December, Te Kooti walked down the Waiau, then turned south for Nga Tapa, located at the confluence of the Mohaka and Te Hoe rivers. From this pa, on January 16, 1872, he launched his last guerrilla raid on a
Maungaharuru sheep run east of the Mohaka River." (from The
Flight of Te Kooti by Sid Marsh)
There are two picture collections here. One of aerial photographs of the river and its surrounds from the Waitara area (north of SH 5) to the mouth, the other is from a raft trip with work colleagues in March 2007. It was a last minute decision to tuck my little non-waterproof Canon into the top of my wetsuit - everyone else went into the drink many times so I am very lucky to still have that camera.