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Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River facts for kids

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Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River
The Hutt River looking downstream
Native name Te Awa Kairangi
Other name(s) Te Wai o Orutu
Country New Zealand
Physical characteristics
Main source Tararua Ranges
River mouth Wellington Harbour
0 m (0 ft)
Length 56 km (35 mi)
Basin features
Basin size 655 km2 (253 sq mi)

Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River (Māori:Te Awa Kairangi, Te Awakairangi, Te Wai o Orutu or Heretaunga) flows through the southern North Island of New Zealand. It flows south-west from the southern Tararua Range for 56 kilometres (35 mi), forming a number of fertile floodplains, including Kaitoke, central Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt.


The headwaters in the Kaitoke Regional Park are closed to preserve the quality of the drinking water drawn off at Kaitoke to supply the greater Wellington area. Below Kaitoke is the Kaitoke Gorge, a popular destination for rafting. Below the gorge is Te Mārua, where the Mangaroa River joins the Hutt from the east. Further down, at Birchville, the Akatarawa River joins the Hutt from the west. Here it flows in a deep channel between the surrounding hills and is turned to flow across the Wellington Fault to Maoribank. The movement of the fault can be seen from the displacement of the river terraces in Harcourt Park. At the top of the Upper Hutt floodplain, the river makes a sharp turn against the bedrock at the foot of the cliff at Maoribank to flow down the valley. The Upper Hutt floodplain contains the greater portion of Upper Hutt city. The Whakatiki River joins the Hutt from the west and it is about this point the river starts to flow along the virtually straight Wellington geologic fault, which lies on the western side of the river valley. At the lower end of the Upper Hutt floodplain is Taita Gorge, which separates Upper Hutt from Lower Hutt; this gorge is significantly shorter and less constricting than Kaitoke Gorge. The river's outflow, at Petone, is into Wellington Harbour. The geological fault that the river previously followed continues as a steep bluff at the edge of the Wellington Harbour.

State Highway 2 follows the course of the river for most of its length, with the exception of the Kaitoke Gorge and the head waters, before crossing the Remutaka Range into the Wairarapa.


Heading downstream:

  • Kaitoke Swingbridges, 2 footbridges in Kaitoke Regional Park.
  • Te Mārua Bridge (demolished)
  • Akatarawa Road Bridge, a two-lane road bridge opened in 1981 to replace a single-lane road bridge opened in 1915 and demolished in 1982. Abutments of the old bridge remain in the adjacent downstream riverbank and a pier footing remains in the river bed.
  • Akatarawa Bridge, the old Hutt County Council wooden truss bridge that crossed the river near the intersection of Rata Street and Birch Terrace with Akatarawa Road. Constructed in 1880-81 and closed in 1953. Piers damaged by flooding and then demolished and removed from riverbed in 1998.
  • Hutt Borough Council Pipe Bridge constructed adjacent to the Akatarawa Bridge in 1913 to carry the Hutt Borough Council water supply pipes until decommissioned in 1958. Also damaged by flooding and demolished in 1998 at the same time as the Akatarawa Bridge.
  • Norbert Street Footbridge between California Park in Totara Park and Harcourt Park at the end of Norbert Street in Birchville.
  • Maoribank Suspension Bridge (1917 to 1998) Crossed at the bend in the river at the foot of Maoribank cliff. Cliffside pier damaged by flooding in 1998, making bridge unsafe, so bridge was demolished.
  • Totara Park Bridge (Totara Park Road), a two-lane road bridge opened c. 1970, providing access to the suburb of Totara Park.
  • Moonshine Bridge (River Road/SH 2), a curved two-lane road bridge that was opened in 1987 as part of the River Road bypass of Upper Hutt. It replaced a road bridge slightly upstream of the current bridge.
  • Silverstream Road Bridge (Fergusson Drive): a two-lane road bridge. It also carries a bulk water supply pipe, underslung on the north side, connecting Te Mārua water treatment plant with Porirua and Wellington City.
  • Silverstream Rail Bridge (Wairarapa Line): a double-track rail bridge that was opened in 1954 to replace the 1875 single-track rail bridge around 500 metres further downstream.
  • Pomare Rail Bridge (Wairarapa Line): a double-track rail bridge that was opened in 1954 as part of the Hutt Valley railway deviation.
  • Kennedy-Good Bridge (Fairway Drive): a two-lane road bridge that was opened in 1979 and was the first bridge at this site. The bridge is named after the Mayor of Lower Hutt at the time.
  • Melling Bridge (Melling Link Road): a three-lane bridge (one eastbound, two westbound) that was opened 1957. This is the second bridge at this site, the first being a one-lane suspension bridge opened in 1909, approximately 200 metres upstream.
  • (New) Ewen Bridge: this single span arch bridge carrying four traffic lanes of traffic and footways is the seventh bridge at this site and was opened in 1996. The preceding bridges, which crossed nearer to Bridge Street, upstream of the latest bridge, were opened in 1844, 1847, 1856, 1872, 1904 and 1929.
  • The 'Rail Bridge' (Wairarapa Line) a two-track rail bridge with pedestrian walkway. Opened 1927 with the then Hutt Valley branch line to Waterloo
  • Estuary Bridge (Waione Street): a two-lane road bridge that also carries a bulk water supply pipe connecting Waterloo and Wainuiomata water treatment plants with Wellington City. Opened 1954.

Description and recreation

Hutt Valley across the harbour
A view across Wellington Harbour looking towards the mouth of the Hutt River

For most of its length, the Hutt is a shallow and sometimes braided river in a wide rocky bed, but in the Kaitoke gorge the river flows directly over bedrock, and approaching the mouth at Petone the river is narrower and the banks steeper. The larger populated areas in Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt are protected from flooding by stopbanks and introduced willow trees, as is common in New Zealand. The regular flooding of Lower Hutt resulted in highly fertile land and prior to the building of state housing by the first Labour Government starting in 1937, there were many market gardens in Lower Hutt.

The Hutt has moved significantly since European settlement, due to a major earthquake in 1855 that raised the riverbed.

The river can be walked or cycled from Upper Hutt to Petone along tracks on either side, though the eastern bank is more accessible. The Lower Hutt edition of Parkrun, the worldwide weekly 5-kilometre (3.1 mi) running series, runs along the last 2.5-kilometre (1.6 mi) section of the Hutt River from just north of the Ewen Bridge down to the Waione Bridge and back.


The official name since 2011 is Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River. Early Māori residents, such as Ngāi Tara, called it Te Awa Kairangi. Later Māori settlers named it Te Wai o Orutu after Orutu, a Ngāti Mamoe ancestor. By the time European settlers arrived, Māori called it Heretaunga, a name adopted by an Upper Hutt suburb and secondary school.

The river was named Hutt after Sir William Hutt, chairman of the New Zealand Company. This name was given by Captain Edward Main Chaffers and Colonel William Wakefield while charting Port Nicholson in 1839.


The river has a good stock of brown trout.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Río Hutt para niños

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