. Mokau .

 Mokau is in the Waitomo District and Waikato Region local government areas, just north of the boundary with the New Plymouth District and the Taranaki Region. Prior to 1989, the town was classed as being in Taranaki, and there is still a feeling that the community of interest is most associated with New Plymouth, 90 km to the southwest. State Highway 3 passes through the town on its route from Te Kuiti to Waitara and, eventually, New Plymouth.

Mokau is a popular location for whitebaiting and other fishing including for kahawai (mainly found at the river mouth) and snapper (which are found right along the coast in several spots).

Mokau also has a couple of outstanding surf breaks that, in the right conditions, can produce waves of up to 6 ft (1.8m).


The Mokau River, which is a catchment area of 550 sq. miles, rises on the south-western slopes of the Rangitoto Range. Its upper catchment adjoins that of the Wanganui in the south, and the Waipa, a major tributary of the Waikato, in the north. The lower course of the Mokau River lies through rugged country rising to almost 2,000 ft, much of it clad in dense native rain forest. This lower course lies through easily eroded tertiary sandstones and mudstones, within which occurs coal of the Mokau coalfield. For several miles south of Piopio, a small town some 12 miles south of Te Kuiti, the Mokau River flows through limestone-capped hills with greywackes of Jurassic and Triassic age outcropping in its bed. The river falls rapidly from the area of more-resistant rocks to the softer ones, where during the last glaciation, when the sea was some 350 ft below present level, the valley floor lay considerably lower than it does now. Sea level rose with the melting of the continental glaciers and the Mokau River aggraded its valley floor. The lower valley is still subject to extensive flooding.

At its mouth the Mokau River is confined by a sand bar, and on the raised beaches formed during past interglacial periods, ironsand dunes have been deposited. The river carries a predominantly fine sediment load, has a low gradient over the last several miles of its course, and is tidal for some distance upstream. From near Piopio the river enters into a broadly open, low-rounded topography above the steep-walled, narrow limestone gorges. 

In pre-European times the Mokau River marked the boundary between the Tainui and Taranaki tribal areas; in particular, the territory was often under dispute between Ngati Maniapoto and Ngati Tama. Although a small tribe, Ngati Tama, held their own against all comers until the early part of the nineteenth century when two battles altered the traditional power balance in the district. About 1815 there was a disastrous battle, Nga-tai-pari-rua, against Ngati Rakei on Mokau beach. Six years later a strong Maniapoto war party, armed with muskets, invaded the district. There was a fierce engagement at Pararewa in September 1821, when the Ngati Tama and Te Ati-awa were heavily defeated and Tupaki, the great Ngati Tama war chief, was killed. After this the remnants of Ngati Tama joined Te Rauparaha's trek south to Cook Strait. Their departure left Taranaki open to the depredations of Te Wherowhero and his Waikatos.

The river for its whole length once formed the boundary between the Auckland and Taranaki Provinces, and today forms the boundary between the land districts The port, Mokau, at the mouth of the river, is no longer used.

The meaning of the name is obscure. One variant is “winding stream”; another, that the river was named Mokau by Turi from his having slept there.


Mokau is a small town on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island, located at the mouth of the Mokau River on the North Taranaki Bight. It is 90 kilometers north of New Plymouth and about 80 kilometers south of Te Kuiti on State Highway 3 




It is in the Mahoenui census unit, which had 480 people in 183 households. Mokau's permanent population is about 400, but this swells to several thousand during the summer.


Average temperature 13.8°C
Average rainfall 1571mm

Mokau Primary School small

Mokau Shool


Mokau school is a year 1 - 8 coed state school with a decile rating of 3 and a roll of 24



Mokau is known as the whitebait capital of New Zealand - In the season there are 400 plus whitebait stands spreading up the river for 35 kms, In the three months season from August to November the population increases dramatically with all available camp sites and accommodation full to the brim. Many a tall story gets told and keeping a secret is the name of the game.  
mokau river glenroyal

Mokau River Tour


From the MV Glen Royal you can see all the action, Talk to the fisherman, and if you want, enjoy a amazing Whitebait fritter.  All from the warmth and safety of the largest ship on the river.  No matter what age you are you can see one of New Zealand's fishing traditions on the most popular River.  Nowhere else can you see Whitebait fishing like this.  This is also when the bush is at it most impressive as springs start to arrive.

Prices for our 2015 trips which take 3 hours including a stop up river. This is where you can discover and old camp sit and a pack horse track. The track was cut through native forest around the 1900s

 Adults $60.00 per Person

 Children 6 to 14  $10. per child

 Children under 6 Free