Pungarehu rapids          and lower Pokeka

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  Pungarehu rapids occur above and below the confluence of the Pokeka and Waitotara rivers. This is one of two places between Mt Messenger and Wanganui where this forest actually connects with a maintained public road (The other is one end of the Matemateaonga walkway at Kohi Saddle, 1 hours inland from Stratford.)
At present two tracks leave from this road end, one to Train's hut and on, the other, an unmaintained track, to the Pokeka valley and the sites of the now removed Pokeka and Maungarau huts.

The Pokeka river joins the Waitotara river 3-400 metres along the Trains' track from the road end, emptying into a scenic area between two sections of these Pungarehu rapids.
                                                                                                                                   

To reach the river there are several options. 300 metres from the road end an old vehicle track veers off to the right. This will take you to the bottom part of the rapids. Or you can go to where the track turns hard left. At this point there are two tracks - the left one takes you down steps to the jet boat landing area, and the right hand one takes you to the corner in the river where the Pokeka river joins the Waitotara river. You should be able to drive to this point as this is a formed but unmaintained public road. However at present the owner of Kapara has illegally changed the road access, diverting it through private land, and damaging the true road in the process. He also erected illegal railing to stop vehicles, but this has since been removed. (see Kapara)

I have seen blue duck in these rapids recently for a short time, but with the jet boat route just upriver, ducks are unlikely to stay long.

Location Map

                                       (Modified maps  from WAMS.org.nz)

   
The junction of the Pokeka and the Waitotara

A bridge across the Waitotara river at this point would provide access to the lower Pokeka as a picnic spot, a circular walk to Trains hut and back, a day walk to the Rotokohu wetland and access to Pokeka hut via a track that would not rely on farmer permission for access (as occurs on the paper road at present.) While the walk would start with an uphill grunt to start with once across the river, the views further on are worth the effort. See Pokeka alternative track.