The headwaters of the Raukokore River are known as the Mangahaupapa Stream, which forms part of the regional boundary between the Bay of Plenty Region and Gisborne District. There is some farmland in this area but the rugged and eroded terrain is predominantly covered with native bush. Gravel from large gully-head erosion sites and slips in the upper catchment feeds the braided system. Once the river emerges from the hill country it travels less than 3 km before meeting the ocean. Here the alluvial fan extends to a width of almost half a kilometre over the small floodplain.
Water quality monitoring at State Highway 35 shows phosphorus is increasing.