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Far from being mere fanciful mystical creatures, Taniwha form part of a wider Maori environmental management system.
In Opotiki the Taniwha Whanaunga-kore (Taniwha with no relations) was guardian for shipping that crossed the often times dangerous sand bar where the Waioeka River flows into the sea. He required vistors to be respectful as they safely navigated the dangerous shifting sand bar. Oral accounts record that on approaching the bar mariners threw a stick into the river and watched it closely for any signs of unusual behaviour. For example if the stick moved upstream it was the taniwha Whanaunga-kore way of saying it was unsafe to cross the bar.
In this sense Taniwha were far from destructive but in fact care givers. Our premier kayak trip down the Waioeka river is graded an easy 1-2 with just three small rapids, which can be walked down if you are feeling a bit unsure. It is easy to avoid the trees but to make sure you remember about the hazard we liken them to the claws of Taniwha – and you really don’t want to Tangle with Taniwha.
About half way down the trip you will come across underwater rock of a honey comb appearance. Such rocks are geologically interesting and make ideal lair for Taniwha. There are also other beautiful native tree lined swimming holes that make for ideal picnicking spots.
The Waioeka River is ranked one of the Bays top 10 rivers, is a great trout river, and the upper reaches hosts the annual Motu Challenge multi sport event.