Thornton and the Rangitaiki river
Thornton is the coastal heart of the Rangitaiki plains and the gateway to the pacific ocean for the Rangitaiki river.
After a dramatic 155km journey the Rangitaiki river cuts through the rangitaiki plains in it’s final stages to join the sea at Thornton Beach. The largest of 3 rivers that run through the Rangitaiki plains it is not commonly known that the Rangitaiki river is the 2nd longest river in the North Island as the crow flies from begining to end.
At it’s final destination here at Thronton Beach the Rangitaiki river is a shadow of it’s most powerful having been damed twice, once at Aniwhenua and again at Matahina. However this provides relative safe and consistent flow for users of the mouth facilities and activities. The mouth provides wharf fishing, boat ramp access to the sea and river but in particular the mouth is known for it's large runs of Kahawai that chase huge schoals of whitebait up the river.
Hence we have become to be known as the "Kahawai Capital of the world."
The Rangitaiki river has had it’s course manipulated over the years to accomodate the two hydro electric dams and also a change of course in it’s final section from it’s original problematic mouth at Matata to it’s current mouth at Thornton.
Thornton sits on the northern edge of the Rangitaiki plains which surround it in a semi circle to the south. The rangitaiki plains features rich farmland that is some of the most productive dairy farming pasture in the Bay of Plenty.
There are two other major rivers that also end their journeys on the Rangiataiki Plains. They are the Whakatane and the Tarawera rivers. Whilst not as big they are equally well known for different reasons both cultural and geographical.
'Plenty' of fun
We have areas of rich farmland, rugged hills, unique river systems and accessability to some of the best sea fishing within the Bay of Plenty. Thornton is centrally placed to take advantage of all these features and the bounty they have to offer.