Family delights in thrilling 'Kiwiana' ride

Hidden Treasures

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 05:00 08/01/2013
Waingongoro River
LAIRD HARPER/Fairfax NZ
WATER RATS: Louis Poole, 15 and his cousin, Matthew, 16, plunge off the Waingongoro River weir on a scorching summer day.

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Hidden away on an isolated stretch of the Waingongoro River stands a symbol of Kiwiana.

That ability to make something "extreme" out of the environment and give it to the world is no more apparent than at the 5.6-metre-high weir off South Taranaki's Normanby Rd.

It has hosted tourists from all corners of the world, become a yearly attraction for scores of Taranaki youth and, best of all, it's free.

Whether by kayak or boogie board it's great fun, and the Poole family are quick to acknowledge it.

For brothers Isaac, 16, and Louis, 15, there just isn't a better way to beat the heat with their cousins Matthew, 16, and Helen, 19.

With exams a distant memory and weeks before they again needed to worry about teachers the quartet from Skeet Rd took the plunge.

"I've never done it before but with such a hot day we had to come out," Isaac says.

"It's meant to be real scary, and there's this big hype about it, but I don't think so."

Louis said the idea that it was considered an extreme sport for tourists was lost on him.

"It's pretty scary at first: I spent a while sitting at the top, but once you go down you're all good.

"What better way to cool down on a hot day."

The necessities are, of course, a wetsuit and lifejacket and as long as you keep to the middle there won't be a problem.

About 8 kilometres east of Okaiawa, down Normanby Rd, the weir is just a short walk from the road.

The speed of the water varies, depending on how much rain has fallen on the mountain, but that shouldn't be an issue at all this year.

However, it comes with a warning best summed up by a Normanby Power Ltd sign just metres from the dam.

It states that the dam area is a dangerous place and they take no liability for anyone hurt using it.

Simply put - if in doubt, stay out.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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