Kayakers Nail One of New Zealand’s Most Notorious and Rarely-Run Waterfalls

New Zealand North Island Taurango Taupo waterfall
Zack Mutton running the remote and tricky drop.Mike Dawson

Hidden in the depths of the Kaimanawa Forest Park in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island is the 80-foot Tauranga-Taupo waterfall. First discovered and descended some 10 years ago by Kiwi legend Brendon Bayley, it’s had a mixed history for kayakers that’s included clean lines, broken backs and near drownings. This December, rains primed the flow-dependent drop to the perfect level of 600 cubic feet per second, and two of New Zealand’s most-promising young chargers returned after a scouting mission with one plan: to run the drop. The 16-year-old George Snook and Zack Mutton made the brutal two-hour hike with kayaks and checked the flow one last time before dropping inThe falls are known for their tricky entrance and tough lip, however, with the sun out on a glorious summer’s day in the Southern Hemisphere, the timing worked perfectly. Everything aligned for the lads to get perfect lines down this beautiful 80-foot waterfall.

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—See the video of the drop below, plus more of photographer-expedition paddler-Olympian Mike Dawson‘s own paddling exploits.

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