The Waitara River rises in mountainous country near Tahora on the Okahukura-Stratford railway, running south-west to within 12 miles of Stratford, where it turns a right angle to flow into the North Taranaki Bight at Waitara. A very early hydroelectric station was established by damming the headwaters of the Tariki, a tributary of the Waitara. Another early power station was set up on the Makara Stream, also a tributary of the Waitara. At the mouth of the river the port of Waitara used to handle the output of the Waitara Freezing Works, but this meat now passes through the port of New Plymouth, and Waitara serves only small boats.
The river has a relatively low gradient and does not appear to be as seriously affected by the formation of a sand bar as does the Patea on the south coast.
Waitara is said to mean “mountain stream”.
by Thomas Ludovic Grant-Taylor, M.SC., New Zealand Geological Survey, Lower Hutt.