In 1975 The Kaimai Canoe club fought the Kaimai hydro-electric power scheme on the grounds that it would destroy fishing, sport and recreation on the river. A compromise was reached allowing 26 release days each year. The club sets the dates at the Annual General Meeting. The usual level for the release is about 14 cumecs and flows from 10am-4pm. The river can also be paddled when there has been plenty of rain, allowing for some grade V boating.
The put in for the top section is behind the old Mclaren Falls power station on Mclaren Falls Rd. Please be respectful to other bridge users when parking/unloading boats. If the car park is full there is a large car park on the other side of the bridge 200m up the hill on the right.
The take out is beside the Ruahihi power station on State Highway 29. Please be careful on this section of the road, parking is on the grass verge in front of the paddock. Park your whole car on the grass and not half on the road.
There are a few options if you don't want to run the top section (Grade IV)
Put in at the red letter box (half way up the hill between the take out and Mclaren Falls Rd. There is $5 access fee through the paddock to the river (honesty box by the gate). The rapids from here down are grade 2 and 3, get out at Poripori Rd after the bridge if you don't want to run the grade IV bottom waterfall.
If you want to play on the wave and run the grade 2 rapids through the slalom gorge, access the river by using the track past the clubhouse opposite the Poripori Rd intersection. Paddle across the river and you have 200m to carry your boat until you can paddle up to the playwave.
If you haven't paddled the river before it might be a good idea to meet up with other paddlers at the take out. People begin arriving between 10 and 11am.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council gauge Wairoa river level above Ruahihi Power Station
There is also a visual gauge on River left under the Mclaren Falls Bridge.