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11th November 2018: Waiau Uwha River

Date: 11/11/2018
River: Waiau Uwha River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions: 11 cumecs at Malings Pass. 173 falling to 161 cumecs at Marble Point. Water discoloured, cool & swift. Grade 3.
Weather Conditions: Sunny & warm, light NE winds.
Number on Trip: 19 people.
Time on River: 4.5 Hours.
Comments: When I spotted the announcement for this trip, it looked pretty exciting as I had never run this section, but had often looked longingly across the river at its’ steep rocky gorges. Since this section is normally run as a two day trip which includes The Narrows (a very tight gorge with a number of grade 3 & 4 rapids), I wasn’t likely to run it in the future. The plan was to be transported via four wheel drives driven by the friendly folk at Glenhope Station, from the Boyle Outdoor Education Centre to Tin Jug Hut. We would then put in below The Narrows section and paddle down to the Waiau Uwha / Hope River confluence.

In the week leading up to the trip, the West Coast was batter by heavy rains and Canterbury received a fair amount of rain too. Rivers rose and even the access track looked like it could be compromised. Fortunately the weather cleared up for the weekend and the river flows fell, the access track was given the thumbs up and the trip was definitely on.

4:30am rolled round pretty quickly and it was up for breakfast and to finish loading up the car before racing off to Belfast for the 5:45am meeting. After loading up Hugh’s trailer, we had a brief wait for a few stragglers and we were heading off up State Highway One by 6:05am. The drive up to the take out point was uneventful but when we went to open the gate to get down to the river, it was locked and we didn’t have to combination. We left a vehicle there and then carried on to the Boyle River Outdoor Education Centre and got our gear sorted out before the shuttle vehicles from Glenhope Station arrived.

With almost 20 people doing the trip, the shuttle would take two trips in with the two 4x4s and the trailer loaded up with all the boats and associated gear. When Todd and Chris arrived, we hitched the trailer on and piled in. The drive through the Magdalen Valley was quite spectacular and we got to look down on the Boyle River and consider the potential for a future trip (looked like a nice grade 2/3 run with the right amount of water). The track was pretty rugged and there were a number of creek crossings, so we were very glad to have suitable vehicles and such excellent drivers to get us in.

Beautiful scenery on the drive in along the Magdalen Valley, Glenhope Station.

We crossed a low pass and then traveled down to Tin Jug Hut, that sits looking over the Waiau Valley and marked the put in for our trip.

Looking down the Waiau Valley from above the put in.

As we had a quite a bit of time to wait, Matt and I climbed up the track to see if we could get more of an idea what to expect downstream. The view was impressive, but the river looked a little daunting, brown and swift. We could also looked upstream to where The Narrows opened out into the valley and were quite glad we didn’t need to paddle that section today.

Waiting for the rest of the group at the Tin Jug Hut.

We ferried our gear down to the river and then sat around the hut, enjoying the warmth and sunshine, shedding the extra layers of paddling gear we had worn on the way in.

Here comes the rest of the group.

Eventually the second group arrived and then the preparations became a little more serious. Paddling gear was put back on, boats were loaded up and moved to the river bank and then we all pitched in to help Hugh get his cataraft down to the river. Part of the group went further in the vehicles, planning to put in below the first gorge and thus avoiding some of harder water.

Moving boats down to the river at the put in.

We had decided to split into three groups and most of us were on the river shortly before midday. Once I had launched, I felt the current pulling at my boat and it took some getting used to the turbulence and boily nature of the swollen river, it had definitely been awhile since I had paddled anything so high. Concentration was high and my confidence was feeling sapped as I worked my way across to an eddy above the first narrow section where the river turned tightly and some of the flow piled into a bluff. Things definitely looked scarier seated in my boat, down in the current than they did from the hillside above.

All fresh and ready for adventure.

Across the river, I watched the more confidant paddlers at play before they disappeared, one by one, around the corner. Eventually I broke out into the current and let it take me down stream, getting used to the power of the water took some time but as long as you kept an eye on where you were going and what was coming up, you could generally avoid the worst of it and by sticking to the centre of the flow, avoiding the boiling water around the banks and keeping a firm paddle blade in the water, keeping up right wasn’t too hard.

Breaking out to head down through the first gap.

Once through the first narrow point without any dramas, the river opened up again and there was a bit of a reprieved before the rock walls reared up and the river was forced through a narrow gorge. I was able to get a bit more comfortable during this section and was soon feeling a little more relaxed. The water was cold and I appreciated having put the extra layers back on, especially as the sun didn’t seem to reach into the gorge sections.

Kelly is all smiles.

The swift current meant there wasn’t much opportunity for playing but people took advantage of any fun that there was to be had. In the tight gorges, there were not too many places to stop, what looked like a good eddy to take some photos from was usually a turbulent swirl, full of boils. Any swims tended to be long, and recovery tricky, especially if people didn’t hold on to their boats and paddle.

Powering down a rapid.

Being in a tight gorge at a high flow can be pretty intimidating, often there are not good places to stop, just small, nasty eddies with boily eddy lines just waiting to trip you up and they can be pretty lonely too as your group can get strung out and there is no way to know what is happening out of sight either upstream or downstream. Keeping to the middle and keeping paddling worked, but I didn’t get many pictures, though seeing other people Go-Pro footage I’m not surprised I didn’t stop for some snaps.

Big water and swift currents were easily handled by Chris and his open canoe.

While most of the group chose to paddle a kayak, Chris bucked the trend and was paddling his big open canoe. He did well navigating the rapids and even though his boat was crammed with air bags, it often seemed to need bailing out. Definitely some impressive paddling with half the paddle and twice the boat.

There seemed to be a lot to smile about on this adventure.

The trip had a real adventure feel to it, as I had no idea what was round each corner or what was coming up. With trips on the Ashley or Hurunui, I know each rapid and the best ways to run them, I know where to stop to get that photo, where the play spots are and how far it is to the get out. With this trip, it was all new and nothing was expected.

Chris exits a gorge in his open canoe.

It was quite a relief to finally get out of the first gorge, the sky opened up above us, giving us the opportunity to relax a little and appreciated the splendor of the country we were moving through, with it’s rocky faces and bush covered mountains. At some stage after this, we met up with the rest of the group that had bypassed the first gorge. It was hard to tell exactly where this happen as our party was quite strung out.

Hugh powering through a rapid on his cataraft.

Hugh did a great job organising the trip and provided an extra layer of safety with his cataraft, as an extra person / boat could be transported if necessary. It was also great to see him powering through the rapids, though I did make certain I was well away from it in case I got run over.

Matt leads the way down another rapid.

We worked our way down the river in loose formation, with groups forming and breaking up as we went along, depending on whether people wanted to play or if additional support was required. One of the responsibilities on the river, is to always look out for the others in your group, to always be ready to lend a hand if needed and to make sure no one is left behind.

During one of the more open sections, I was enjoying running down a big wave train, bouncing up and down, feeling the slap of my hull against the troughs and the splash of water in my face, when the “wave” I was just about to punch through turned out to be a biggish hole. Too late to avoid it, I dug in to keep my speed up, made it through but ended up tipping over. I soon rolled up with no dramas. John H noted that he was surprised I didn’t notice the hole earlier and that I had dropped into it. Well I guess it looked like fun at the time.

There were some amazing rock formations.

With all the tight, rocky gorges we had to pass through, the were some impressive rock formations, carved out by passage of water over the ages. It was also interesting looking at the satellite images on Google Maps, trying to trace our route, picking out specific locations and realising just how tight some of gorges are from above.

Hugh in his cataraft leads on this rapid near the start of the second gorge for the day.

The second major gorge wasn’t as tight or as challenging as the first one, but we had some less experience paddlers with us and this resulted in a couple of swims. Responses were good, with the experienced paddlers ready to help with recoveries and having the gear and technical know how to reunite paddlers and gear, and to get them back on the river again.

Matt breaks out to navigate another tight gorge.

Our groups split at this point, with Matt, Hugh, John H and others disappearing into the distance and not to be seen again until the get out, as they made a good pace while the odd swim slowed things up for the others.

… and it’s off downstream.

At one stage, an empty boat swept past with two other kayakers trying to maneuver it towards a bank or nonexistent eddy, I was about to set off in pursuit when I decided I wasn’t exactly comfortable and my little boat would probably just get in the way, rather than helping. Upstream another kayaker helped the swimmer to shore, while I waited in my eddy in case anyone else decided a swim down a flooded river would be fun. Once everyone and everything was “rescued”, then the tricky operation of reuniting the paddler with their boat and paddle begins, this involved through ropes, controlled swims and tows. Fortunately this didn’t occur too regularly as this wasn’t a good day to be spending excessive time in the water and we had a long way to go.

Later we spent quite a long time parked up, while most of the group scouted one of the bigger rapids. I remained in my boat but got the information from some of the others, it was a good exercise but I often find the longer you spend looking at a rapid, the worst it gets. Eventually a couple of others broke out and then I followed on down and got in to a suitable position at the bottom. No dramas as the rapid turned out to be easier than a number we had already done, but we did have at least one swimmer.

A narrow gorge.

In some places, the gorge became very narrow (though probably not as narrow as The Narrows) but just how exciting the section was generally depended on the gradient, as well as geomorphology of the river. The gorge pictured above must have had a fairly gentle gradient as there were no real hydraulic features and you could simply float through it, though it would be interesting to see what is was like at a lower flow. Somewhere near this point we passed under a narrow wire swing bridge, high over the river.

The river widen before closing in on the third gorge for the day.

The valley widen a bit before entering another gorge, this one was the least challenging of the three, which was probably a good thing as we were probably starting to get a little tired.

Some squirrelly water, a bit difficult to read.

The high flow still provided plenty of challenges, especially when the current and bluffs interacted. The random boils, swirls and pulses caused more than one kayaker to adopt a worried expression.

A beautiful waterfall added to the already spectacular scenery.

One of the plus sides of all the recent rains was the number of waterfalls running down into the river, made the scenery even better.

 

Out of the hills and on to the take out.

Once we exited the last gorge, the valley opened up and the end of our trip neared. By this stage I was pretty tired and was looking forward to getting into some warm, dry clothes. We passed under a very long suspension bridge that looked a little like it had been used in an Indiana Jones movie, complete with missing planks. From here the river split into multiple channels and we stayed in the right most in order to be in the right place when the Waiau Uwha joined the Hope. At the confluence, most of the group walked upstream to cross over the Hope to where the vehicles were parked, while I sort of ferry glided / paddled across and then walked up the opposite bank. We were off the water around 5pm, so it had been a long day out.

We got changed, packed up and headed back to town. On the way home, we stopped off at the Brew Moon, a few of the group ordered some tasty looking pizzas and while tempted I knew I’d be having dinner when I got home. It was with some relief when I finally made it home and tucked in to a Hell pizza ordered whilst at loading up at the Belfast.

4th November 2018: Ashley River

Date:    4/10/18
River:   
Ashley River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:  
14 cumecs at Ashley Gorge. Water clear and cool. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions:  
Warm & sunny, gusty nor-westerlies, strong at times.
Number on Trip: 
 7 people doing the upper section and 4 doing the lower section.
Time on River: 
4 hours.
Comments:  With gale force winds predicted for the Canterbury high country and the Ashley flowing at a nice level, it was decided to divert the proposed Hurunui trip to the Ashley. There was some debate over which sections to run, with part of the group keen to just run the lower grade 3 section. However as we had a number of newer paddlers on the trip, it was decided that it would be better to split in to two groups and run the upper and lower sections separately.

Boats, gear and groupings were sorted out and we all headed off to our respective put ins. I left my car at the middle bridge with the dry gear for our group and we squeezed into another vehicle before heading up to the Lees Valley put in.

Safety briefing before hitting the water.

We had a brief safety briefing and sorted out buddies and on the water procedures, before taking to the water and making our way down the river.

Warming up in the Lees Valley.

The first small rapid and the eddy at the bottom provided a good warm up spot to practice moves and blow out any cobwebs. It also provided an opportunity to gauge the ability of the group and to work out who might need extra support before moving into the gorge.

Ernest surfing.

It was a beautiful day and the gorge protected us from most of the wind. We made our way down the river, taking our time, catching eddies and playing where we could. The upper section is a nice easy paddle with plenty of rapids to keep the interest up and offers plenty of challenges to newer paddlers, though with the shallower water, upside-down time can involve some geological interactions.

Sally styling a rapid.

We had a good group of people and a variety of skill levels, with the stronger paddlers happy to give support and advice to the less experienced ones, as well as providing the occasional rescue when required. It had been quite a while since I need to rescue anyone, but as each out of boat experience seemed to involve a swimmer, a paddle and a kayak all going in separate directions, there was plenty for everyone to do and I’d forgotten just how hard it is to clip on to and tow a water filled creek boat with my little boat and just how awkward it is to try and do this while holding a 30 degree crankshaft paddle against my 90 degree straight shafted one.

I was looking forward to running the “crux” rapid of this section, which is a bit of a boulder garden with plenty of routes to choose from and eddies to catch, but unfortunately one of the boulders caught out an unsuspecting paddler and I ended up chasing a boat through most of the rapid. AJ decided to walk the rapid and was in two minds as to whether he wanted to carry on or walk out to the road, quite a climb up above us.

Rafting up.

Ernest rafted up with him down the next significant rapid and I convinced him that everything got easier from this point, so he decided to stick at it, without any further dramas. Ernest himself ended up upside-down after playing around on an eddy line and I was somewhat surprised when instead of rolling up, his hands appeared and slapped the bottom of his boat. A closer paddler attempted a T rescue but not quite soon enough and a swim resulted. Turns out that he didn’t have much of a roll to use, fortunately his skills usually keep him the right way up.

Surfing self portrait.

As the rapids eased off, we were able to enjoy the sunshine and beautiful scenery, it is a real pleasure to be out on the river on such a day.

AJ running a rapid.

As we passed under the middle bridge, one of the paddlers from the other group called down to us to let us know they were off the river and were just completing their shuttle. They were somewhat surprised that we had taken more time on the river than they had, still there was no rush and we all enjoyed our day on the river. We got changed and I shuttled the other drivers back up the the put in before heading back to town. On the way back, the car’s air conditioning system stopped work, not the best thing to have happen, heading in to summer, oh well I guess we add that to the list of things to do.

21st October 2018: Avon River

Date:    21/10/18
River:    
Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
River Conditions:   
1.94 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:   
Sunny and warm, light nor-westerly wind.
Number on Trip:    
1 person.
Time on River:  
1.75 hours.
Comments:  It was a beautiful, warm day in Christchurch and it almost felt wrong to not be doing something. Lauri kindly offered to drop me off at Hagley Park so I could paddle home without having to worry about shuttling a vehicle as well. We parked on Kilmore Street and I carried my kayak across Rolleston Avenue and seal launched into the Avon just as a group of stand up paddle boarders went by.

Stand up paddle boarders enjoying a beautiful day on the Avon.

The water was cool and clear, and it was real pleasure to be on the river on such a lovely day. I chatted briefly to the paddle boarders as we made our way towards the Armagh Street bridge.

The Botanic Gardens section was very popular.

Once under the footbridge, the numbers of other river users increased, as people used hired boats from the Antigua Boat-sheds to explore the stretch of the river that provides a watery boundary to the Botanical Gardens. For those wanting a slightly more subdued or luxurious way to enjoy the parks greenery from the water, there were a number of punts operating as well.

This section is easily navigated and the water is generally less than a metre deep. The banks are easily accessible on both sides of river, so anyone wanted to stop for a picnic can do so. Trout and eels can be spotted and there are plenty of water fowl to be seen. It takes around half an hour of steady paddling to get from the Armagh Street bridge to the Antigua Street boat-sheds.

One of the locals.

Once past the boat sheds and down the small riffle that was once the site of a small weir, the numbers on the water thinned out as the hired boats aren’t allowed to be taken past this point. The river winds its’ way through the city centre and there has been a major improvements to the riverside landscape since the earthquakes, there is a series of swift riffles to navigate, rocks & native plantings, terraces and even homes for the eels pictured above. Theoretically you could stop for a drink & a snack at a bar or cafe but you would probably want to make sure your boat and gear was well secured (locked to something solid).

The Anthony Gormley statue in the river.

As I moved through further through the city, I spotted a figure up ahead and at first thought it was another stand-up paddle boarder until I got closer and realised it was the the Anthony Gormley statue contemplating its’ own reflection in the water. The river through the city is quite scenic and the water was remarkably free of Lime Scooters. I paddled past other art works on the banks and reached the Margaret Mahy playground about half an hour after leaving the Antigua Street boat sheds.

The Margret Mahy playground was busy with families enjoying the sunshine but the river was largely empty. Down through the rows of tall poplar trees, past the Firefighters Memorial made from the twisted steel girders from the World Trade Centre and then down to our old put in at the end of Peterborough Street.

From here the river has some deeper spots and winds through Red Zone areas cleared of housing, giving this section a rural feel. I paddled past Pomeroy’s but didn’t stop for a beer, carrying on through the Red Zone towards home.

Pomeroy’s beckoned, but so did home.

It took less than 2 hours from my put in off Rolleston Avenue to reach the Richmond Community Garden, where I scrambled up the bank and walked the short distance home with my kayak on my shoulder. The trip took me through well groomed gardens, inner city environs and the semi rural Red Zone, well worth repeating on another sunny day.

16th September 2018: Hurunui River

Date:    16/9/18
River:    Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:   24 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2 – 3, water swift, clear & cold.
Weather Conditions:  Sunny & warm, with strong north westerly winds.
Number on Trip:   11 kayakers.
Time on River: 
3 hours.
Comments: 
This was my first trip of the season and my first paddle since May, work, Lauri’s health and the weather meant that I didn’t get in any paddling over winter and as a result I was feeling a little rusty and unfit. At the Belfast, it looked like all the vehicles were full and if I wanted to go, I’d need to drive by myself and I was close to just heading home. Fortunately Blair came up with a plan and I headed off with Paul, my kayak went on Andre’s car and our paddles went in the third vehicle.

We put in at Dozy Stream, below Devil’s Fang Falls and warmed up while the shuttle was run. The winds were strong and I was glad we weren’t putting in further up and some of the more exposed sections can be somewhat less fun in strong winds (when wind gusts blow you over, it isn’t fun anymore). Devil’s Fang Fall was looking fairly bony and Hugh noted that it appeared as though some of the large boulders had moved over winter.

Playing just down from Dozy Stream.

Once the whole group was on the river, we made our way down to first play spot for some fun. Andre demonstrated what you can do with just hand paddles and everyone surfed up a storm. Interestingly no one was paddling a creek boat, RPM’s and play-styled river runners seem to have returned to popularity and with them tail stands and whoopees. I took some photos from one side and then cut across to get shots from another angle. After sufficiently documenting proceedings, I decided to have a bit of a surf. Unfortunately it didn’t go so well and I found myself upside down and in a place I didn’t really want to be. The first roll failed, as did the next and I felt myself being pushed against the bluff near the bottom of the rapid so I pulled my deck and towed the boat to the opposite bank. The water was definitely cold but the swim was quite “refreshing”. I soon emptied out the boat and was back on the water, it is always nice to get a swim out of the way so I don’t need to worry so much about it happening.

Hugh, in his new Frontier pack raft, spots a cow on the river bank.

Further down we spotted a few cows by the river, it looked like the paddock was fenced off, but the gate had been left open, they weren’t in the water but it wasn’t a good look.

One of two double inflatables that cruised past.

We also spotted a pair of inflatable double kayaks making their way down the river. Looks like it would be a good option for Lauri & I, as the wouldn’t be as difficult to move and store as a plastic double kayak and they seem to handle the white water well too. We might have to investigate that when Lauri’s health improves and our bank balance also looks a little healthier.

Hugh took out at Seawards and we were joined by a group of kayakers from the UCCC. We headed into Maori Gully and through the Magic Roundabout. Andre briefly flirted with Simon’s Hole but didn’t plunge in.

This is how a throw bag works.

Somewhere in Bum Rock boulder garden, a kayaker and his kayak were separated. The kayaker ended up on the right back, I got the paddle and Paul was left with the task of getting the kayak to shore. Holding two paddles (especially as my 90 degree paddle doesn’t sit nicely with lesser angled ones), I was particularly inclined to go charging down the next drops in pursuit of the errant boat. Eventually Paul got the run away kayak to the left bank, somewhere above Cheese Grater. To reunite the paddler with his gear, he was thrown a line and got to swim / swing across to the left bank (the right bank is a little too steep to walk along easily) and then walk down to his kayak.

This is one way to cross a river when your boat is on the other side… and some way down stream.

We caught up with the UCCC group above Cheese Grater, as they were instructing their newer members on what too do. I didn’t hang around too long and was soon lined up to run the drop a little left of centre and heading right. I made sure I had a bit of boat speed before reaching the horizon line. From the top, you realised that there were a lot of rocks just below the surface on the right side. I followed a greenish tongue down and caught a bit of any eddy on the right before carrying on down and taking up a position to get photos of the others.

A successful run down Cheese Grater by a UCCC paddler.

Cheese Grater can be a little tricky and it was interesting to see the various lines and their results. The woman above from UCCC, got kicked left into the rocks but kept her cool and her balance, finishing upright with a big smile, the guy below wasn’t so lucky and at that point the camera went away away and I broke out in case any assistance was required. It wasn’t as the rest of his group were there and he may have rolled up anyway.

Cheese Grater… it kicks hard to the left, into the undercut rocks if you don’t get the line just right.

The rest of the river was fun, with a bit of a play at the corner rapid and a line up at the pop up spot. Then on to the take out and up the hill to the vehicles. It was good to be out on the river and even the strong winds weren’t much of a problem. Back to town via the Brew Moon in Amberley with a glass of Blood Moon IPA to round off the day.

20th May 2018: Hurunui River

Date:    20/5/18
River:    Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:   59 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2 – 3, water swift, clear & cold.
Weather Conditions:  Cold, with strong north westerly winds and occasional showers.
Number on Trip:   13 kayakers.
Time on River: 
1.25 hours.
Comments: 
I had arrived back in Christchurch around midnight on Friday and had a bit of a rest on Saturday, but the opportunity of paddling the top gorge on the Hurunui had me loading up my kayaking gear on Saturday and setting my alarm for an early start (well earlier than the 9am wake up on Saturday morning). The weather didn’t look too promising with gale force winds and snow predicted in some areas, but I decided it probably wasn’t going to be too bad so was worth going as there wasn’t likely to be too many more trips left in the season.

After a filling breakfast of French toast, fried banana and bacon, I raced out the door and just made it to the Belfast Tavern slightly after the meeting time of 8:30am. Hitched a ride with Tori and Hugh kept us entertained with stories from his trip through the Grand Canyon. The weather was looking very grey and spits of rain spattered on the windscreen as we drove down from Jacks Pass towards the river, and this had me wondering why I wasn’t still at home, warm in bed.

We passed one of our groups vehicles which had stopped to change a flat tyre and then paused briefly at Dozy Stream to have a look at Devil’s Fang Falls. The rapid looked fairly boisterous but with a clear line straight down the centre. We drove on to the Jollie Brook put in and decided on our plans. We intended to drive up to Sisters Stream, run the shuttle and the paddle down to Jollie Brook and then drive down to Seawards so those keen enough could paddle Maori Gully.

The waterfall on Sisters Stream.

I checked out Sisters Stream while the shuttle was run, as it is occasionally paddled my some of the more gung ho members of the club. It is a fairly tight, fast flowing stream that runs through a narrow gorge that includes the waterfall pictured above, before flowing through some farmland and then joins up with the Hurunui River. It could be an interesting one but the waterfall definitely puts it out of my league.

The sun came out at the put in to the Top Gorge.

The track from the car park down to the river was very boggy in places and I did my best to avoid those area, while others strode boldly through the calf deep mud. The sun was shining and we left the rain behind once the river came in to view and we all regrouped at the put in. Hugh inflated his pack raft and we all did a bit of a warm up before heading down stream.

Playing above the Top Gorge.

There are only a few play spots above the gorge to have a warm up on, so it is good to make the most of them, as the flow through the gorge tends to be relatively swift and this keeps you moving downstream. Fairly early on, I remembered why I retired my old Bomber dry top when the neck seal finally gave out, as it no longer seemed to keep out the cold water, I found myself getting chilled despite the multiple layers underneath.

Hugh paddles his pack raft through the Top Gorge.

It was good to see Hugh out on the river in his latest watercraft. The packraft is much easier to transport than a kayak or cataraft and is certainly quicker to inflate and set up, than the much larger cataraft. It seemed to handle everything the river put in its’ path and kept Hugh relatively dry, and at the end of the day, it can simply be rolled up and popped in the boot of the car.

The crux rapid in the Top Gorge.

The top gorge is sort of a mini Maori Gully, and while the rapids aren’t as hard (the crux rapid pictured above is probably a grade 2+), they still offer some challenges for newer paddlers, with eddies to catch, ferry glides and moves to make to get the best lines. Generally as we tend to paddle this section at higher flows, the current is swifter, the water a little more turbulent, so there is less time to set up and missed moves can put you in the wrong place fairly quickly. Still there is plenty of flat water between rapids so rolls or recovery isn’t too much drama. The gorge also sheltered us from the strong winds, which was a real bonus.

Playing in the Top Gorge.

Once out of the gorge, the river widens out and there are several boulder gardens to play on. The last one runs down the the Jollie Brook rapid, which is another rapid that can offer some challenge to newer paddlers. Then on under the swing bridge to the Jollie Brook put in.

A number of us got out at Jollie Brook, including myself and Hugh, but over half the group was keen to carry on to Seawards. I was already tired and cold enough to call it a day and didn’t really relish being battered and blown over by the gale force winds that were already hammering us once we left the relative shelter of the top gorge.

Devil’s Fang Falls was a little boisterous but the line was clear.

It was nice to get into some dry clothes and be in a warm car. We stopped off at the Dozy Stream put in, to watch the rest of the group run Devil’s Fang Falls. As we waited in the car, the winds sweeping down the valley gave it a good shaking and we had to take care opening the doors. I went out and sat on a rock near the rapids, to get some photos and was disappointed to find that my camera battery was flat (I later found out the reason for this was that I had shot a reasonably lengthy movie in my pocket by accident, not exactly riveting viewing). I remembered that I had my cellphone and since apart from the occasional sheets of spray whipped up by the wind, being waterproof wasn’t a major requirement. I got some nice shots and then it was back in the car and off down to Seawards.

Most of the group got out there, while Andre and a few other brave souls headed of down the gully. We stopped off at the Brew Moon for a beer and then back in to town. It was a fun day out despite the weather but it will probably be my last trip for the season, unless the Ashley is running and the sun is shining.

21st April 2018: Ashley River

Date:    21/04/18
River:   
Ashley River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:  
14 cumecs at Ashley Gorge. Water discoloured and cold. Grade 3.
Weather Conditions:  
Warm & sunny, gusty nor-westerlies, strong at times.
Number on Trip: 
 6 people doing the lower section.
Time on River: 
3.5 hours.
Comments:  Bea put up a post on Facebook, proposing a Saturday Ashley Trip and as the weather wasn’t looking so good for Sunday and other plans seemed a little vague, this was the trip to be on, especially with the Hurunui running at over 100 cumecs and gale force nor-westerlies predicted. Since I hadn’t really planned to go kayaking, breakfast was a little rushed as I quickly gathered up my kayaking gear and loaded the car. Fortunately I arrived at the Belfast Tavern just before 9am and Ian arrived shortly after, and we headed off to meet the rest of the group at the Ashley Gorge campground.

Kerry turned up a little after we arrived, having missed up at The Peg. He planned to do a little tree pruning near the start of the run and then run the gorge solo if he didn’t catch up with us. The rest of the group arrived, we got changed and loaded up the cars before driving to the middle bridge put in.

Kerry put in first and headed down stream to prune the willow trees that were overhanging the first corner and creating a sweeper hazard. He was hard at work as the rest of us floated by, taking care to avoid the hazard.

Bron runs the lower gorge for the first time.

This was Brons’ first trip down this section of the Ashley and Ian provided plenty of helpful advice on which lines to take and what to expect.

Looking back up the gorge.

It was a glorious day to be out on the river, with only the occasional splash of cold water reminding you that the season was drawing to a close and winter was just around the corner. We must have been going fairly slow and savoring the time on the river, as Kerry caught up with us after finishing his “gardening”. He had just expected to paddle out solo after the willows had been pruned and the hazard removed.

John R runs a rapid.

Around 15 cumecs is always a nice flow level, the rapids are nicely defined, with plenty of boulders to add extra interest (neither washed out nor constantly grazing your plastic away) and the slower flow providing plenty of recovery time if things don’t go quite as planned. This was a good thing as only Kerry and John managed to stay in their boats for the whole trip, with John spending longer than usual upside down, with his roll not really performing in an unfamiliar boat. Bron also managed to add a few scratches to her helmet after ending up the wrong way up in shallow water, always a hazard on the Ashley but fortunately the helmet wore the brunt of the rocks.

I took a swim on the rapid before the main drop, when I found myself the wrong way up in some swirly water. My roll didn’t work as I was partially out of my seat and the kayak was being pushed against a bluff. I bailed out and found myself in a smooth, green pool and finding myself alone (I was running many of the rapids first so I could get photos of the rest of the group), I swam to the shore with my boat in tow, as John arrived on the scene. The water was very refreshing.

John R on the main drop. Second time lucky.

The main drop went well, and for the first time in a few trips I managed to stay upright after getting the line right for a change. The rest of the group had no real problems, though John’s approach on his first go didn’t quite nail it and he had to roll at the bottom. He got out and had another go, this time was almost perfect.

I took a number of photos from the left hand side of the river, but these tended to be strongly back lit and didn’t work quite as well as I hoped. In fact, poor photography was a bit of a theme for the trip, with the low light or high contrasts with the low angle sun on the water, leading to a lot of blurry or over dark pictures. Plus the colder conditions meant the lens tended to get fogged up at times and I also missed the odd water drop on the lens in my haste to capture the moment (see below).

Bron running the last grade 3 rapid in the Ashley Gorge.

The rest of the main rapids went alright and everyone enjoyed themselves. At the spot that has a particularly good surfing wave, Ian decided to toss his paddle away and surf “au naturel”. Since he had learnt from the last time not to just let your paddle drift away, he threw it into the eddy on the right hand side. This worked great until he had finished surfing and then got caught out crossing the eddy line, resulting in some upside down time, some failed hand rolls and a slightly undignified “swim” in the shallow water of the eddy. Sadly although I took a number of photos of this sequence, most of them were a little blurry.

Later in the gorge, we had some really strong wind gusts as one particular section seem perfectly aligned to channel the nor-wester. We kept the paddles low and it was a bit of a struggle to make headway whilst fighting into the wind, so it was a relief to leave that section behind.

Eventually we reached the take out and my lack of fitness was showing and I was feeling pretty tired. Still it was a nice day and it was good to chat in the sunshine, while Ian, Kerry & Bea went to pick up the vehicles. On the downside, once I’d taken off my dry top, I realised the neck seal had torn, which was a bit disappointing as it was only a few years old and certainly didn’t last as well as my old Bomber top. Hopefully Twin Needles will be able to replace the neck seal and it will be all ready to go when I get back from Australia.

24th February 2018: Ashley River

Date:    24/02/18
River:   
Ashley River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:  
16 cumecs at Ashley Gorge. Water discoloured and cool. Grade 3.
Weather Conditions:  
Warm & sunny, little wind.
Number on Trip: 
 9 people doing the lower section.
Time on River: 
4 hours.
Comments:  The remnants of Cyclone Gita crossed New Zealand on Tuesday night, dumping a lot of water, closing roads, causing flooding and slips. On the up side, the flow gauge on the Ashley River shot up to almost 250 cumecs and over the following days, various trips were organised depending on individuals personal bravery and ability to take time off work. Since the weather wasn’t that great and I find the higher flows slightly less enjoyable (scary), I ended up tagging on to Bruce’s Saturday morning trip at 16 cumecs.

At The Peg, a second trip was being organised for those that thought that 16 cumecs was too low and that the Hurunui at around 80 cumecs would be more fun. Everything was sorted out very quickly and we were soon heading to the campground with Ian at the wheel.

We met up with Bruce, Ross and Mark at the campground, got changed and consolidated vehicles before driving up to the put in at the middle bridge. At the put in, the blackberry bushes were dotted with ripe berries and this provided some pre-paddle sustenance. The water was still quite discoloured and was flowing fairly swiftly.

Ross looks for the line.

Although I was feeling pretty tired from too many late nights and early mornings, I was soon in to the rhythm of the river. It was a beautiful day, with a good bunch of people, there was no rush and the flow provided plenty of interest without the push of higher flow levels.

Ian digs in deep.

There was plenty of features to play on and play we did, taking our time to surf some of the waves to the max.

Sergi makes a splash.

The boulder garden rapids were quite interesting as their character changes significantly with different flow levels. Boulders that need to be dodged at low flows either disappear or become holes to avoid at higher flows. Often rocks hid below the surface, obscured by the brownish water, ready to surprise with a solid thump or to throw off your line when you failed to realise the wave you were going to paddle through was hiding a boulder.

Looking up stream.

Initially there were 7 of us in the group but at the Forever Eddy above the entrance to the gorge proper, we were joined by 2 others.

Making a splash.

The rapids within the gorge are regularly spaced, generally with reasonable recovery spaces in between, not that they were really required with our group, upside down time usually ended with a roll, not a swim.

One of a number of beautiful waterfalls along the way.

The gorge is a beautiful place, especially on a sunny day (though the contrast of light and shadow makes getting good photos a little tricky). The hillsides are covered with thick, green vegetation, occasionally broken up with sheer rock faces and cascading waterfalls. The rocks can be sharp and jagged, tearing chucks of plastic from your hull or worn in to smooth curves by the flow of the river over the age, or sometimes in layers, folded or stacked vertical by the forces that formed the hills that the river cuts through. Sometimes they are smooth and grey, or mottled with patches of green, moss carpet. The sun sparkles off the rapids and the waters surface, or glistens on the wet rocks and trickling stream-lets that feed the flow.

Running the main drop.

At the main drop, I choose to be one of the first to go over so I could get some photos of the others. I’d watched Mark do the drop and had a fair idea what my line would be. However at the top of the drop things went a little pear shaped, a small hole messed up my line and a large rock ruined my corrective paddle stroke and almost before I knew it, I was upside down and possibly even went over the drop backwards and upside down. Fortunately I flushed out and rolled upright (I wasn’t the only one to mess up the drop on the day though). I fought my way upstream so I could get in to position but only managed to get a few photos.

Mark tries to fit Sergi’s now slightly shorter paddle into his boat.

Sergi came down the drop, he tipped at the bottom and when he rolled up again, he had slightly less paddle than before. Sergi paddled to the side with his half paddle as Ian recovered the other blade. Fortunately someone had packed a split paddle (it pays to be prepared), so he was able to continue on with that, while Bruce sawed off the other blade so the bits would fit in the back of a kayak.

Sergi runs a rapid.

We continued on after a short break as food was eaten, boats drained, paddles cut and stored. There were plenty more rapids to run and plenty of good spots for surfing at this flow.

Ian lets go of his paddle to hand surf… without telling anyone.

At one particularly good spot, Ian became so in tune with the river whilst surfing a wave, that he released his paddle and let it float away while he continued paddling with his hands. Unfortunately he neglected to let anyone else know and his paddle was rapidly disappearing from sight before anyone noticed. Luckily someone gave chase and caught it before the river claimed it for it’s own.

Surfing.

We spent so much time at this spot, taking turns at riding the various options, that Mark and Ross disappeared down stream and we didn’t see them again until we got back to the cars.

Surging through the last grade 3 rapid.

The river carried on and we made the most of the days offerings. By the time we reached the river flow guage, I was pretty tired, having spent slightly over 4 hours in my boat. The last leg was a bit of a grind but soon the bridge appeared. The shuttle was run, while the rest of us enjoyed the warmth and sunshine that tends to be rare at the end of an Ashley trip. Usually the rain that has pushed the river level up, lingers and the campground is further chilled by the lengthening shadows, but not today. Today we were truly blessed.

 

13th January 2018: Ashley River

Date:    13/01/18
River:   
Ashley River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:  
32 to 26 cumecs at Ashley Gorge. Water discoloured and cool. Grade 3.
Weather Conditions:  
Warm & overcast, sunny at times.
Number on Trip: 
 22 people doing upper section, with 14 of those also doing the lower section (plus a lot of others just doing the lower section).
Time on River: 
5.15 hours.
Comments:  First kayaking trip of the year and with all the recent unseasonable rain, it was to be a trip down the Ashley with a reasonable flow (a rare occurrence in January), not just a 5 cumec bottom scratching run (still fun though).

There was quite a group gathered at The Peg when I got there, running slightly late due to a slow start. I found a space in a car, loaded my boat and then we were off shortly afterwards.

At the camp group, there were plenty of boaters keen to take advantage of flow. Some only planned to run the lower section, while the rest were keen to run the entire gorge from the Lees Valley. After we got changed and sorted out vehicles and dry gear, ensuring that everything was going to be in the correct place at the end of the trip (something that isn’t easy when there are multiple trips from the same place), we drove up to the put in.

There were 22 kayakers plus Hugh with his cataraft, plus Ross & Brian, who were running their own private trip. After the usual sorting out of boats and gear, we wandered down the river and floated off with the current. We split in to two groups and I took the tail end Charlie position. It had been a while since I had paddled this section at a similar flow and it was a bit pushier and I had to keep on my toes to avoid any awkward upside down time (lack of sleep and general fatigue didn’t help either). The discoloured water tended to disguise the rocks and there was the occasional thump when the wave you had just ploughed through contained slightly more geology than expected. The main rapids on the upper section provided a reasonable amount of entertainment, with plenty of rocks to dodge and eddies to catch. There was the odd swim but no one seemed to have much difficulty.

It was great to be on the river but I felt pretty out of shape, still by the time we reached the middle bridge I was feeling a bit more relaxed and confident in my paddling skills. Some of our group left to run the shuttle, and the rest of us formed up into two groups of seven before carrying on into the gorge. We had several people who had only been through this section a few times before, but Bruce and Ian were on hand to give plenty of helpful advice and guidance.

 

It was a beautiful day on the Ashley.

I was surprised at the speed at which we progressed, the higher flow pushing us along. Rapids flashed by and before I knew it, we were running down the boulder garden rapid above the forever eddy that marks the entrance to the gorge proper. I always enjoy this boulder garden, it is quite long with plenty of options and changes depending on the flow as rocks submerge forming new features, while the low flow features wash out.

Punching through.

We had a brief pause in the forever eddy and Ian took the opportunity to adjust the seat of his Axiom, something that was to become a feature of the rest of the trip, as it kept slipping out of position. Once in the gorge, the swift flow kept our pace up and fortunately there were no dramas, everyone handled the challenges well. I tended to bomb through the rapids so I could find a suitable place to take photos from and hopefully catch some good shots.

Christine powers through.

We soon got to the main drop and the first group were still there. I lined up to run the drop but looking down from the top, it looked pretty messy and my line took me straight into the guts of it. I ended up tipping at the bottom and it took two attempts to roll upright as I flushed out. By the time I was in control again, I’d gone a little too far from the drop to find a good place to take any photos, and all the eddies were taken anyway. The rest of the group came down perfectly, with only one other person having to roll, so it was a shame not to get any pictures.

Scenery, waterfalls & white water…what more could you want?

The scenery in the gorge was great, I really love the remote, wilderness feel in the gorge, it is a real treasure to have a gem like this so close to the city. It was nice to run the rapids in the gorge at a higher flow than I have done in a good while.

Riding the foamy pillow.

The corner rapid was a bit more pushy and a few people got a little closer to the big rock that forms the bluff, than they probably would have liked, but there were no real dramas.

Looking back upstream at the scenic wonder and remoteness of the Ashley Gorge.

There were quite a few good surf spots and both Bruce and Ian put them to good use, and I got an occasional turn when I wasn’t taking photos.

Ian surfs up a storm.

I was starting to get pretty tired by the time we reached the last major rapid, I was feeling pretty tired but still enjoying the trip. The gap section looked quite impressive at this flow and I was able to get some reasonable shots of most of the members of our group, the one featuring Bruce even managed the make it into The Press newspaper, along with a couple of my other kayaking photos.

Bruce clears the final grade 3 rapid.

From here on down, the rapids become easier but there is still plenty of fun to be had and at this flow, there were some very nice, bouncy wave trains.

Eventually the flow gauges came in to sight, meaning our trip was almost at an end. Doing both sections of the gorge makes for a long trip but it was definitely rewarding. That said, it was nice when the Domain rolled in to view and I was able to drag myself out of kayak and rest my weary limbs. Our vehicles and gear were waiting for us, and almost everyone had their dry gear in the right place (well at least one persons gear ended up in Oxford, but that all got sorted out once it was located). We got changed, packed up and then headed in to Oxford for a well deserved snack.

 

 

 

5th January 2018: Shotover River

Date:    5/01/18
River:   
Shotover River, Queenstown, NZ
River Conditions:  
12 cumecs at Bowens Peak. Water clear and cool. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions:  
Cool & overcast, slight drizzle.
Number on Trip: 
 4 people.
Time on River: 
0.5 hours.
Comments:  One of the things that Lauri’s family wanted to do when they came to New Zealand for the first time, was to visit Queenstown. This opened up the possibility of a wide range of activities, ranging from a peaceful cruise on the Earnslaw to the more full on activities like bungy jumping or white water rafting. While I would have been keen for a spot of white water rafting, the fact that learning to swim isn’t that common in Korea, made that activity a little too extreme. Likewise the were no takers for bungy jumping, though when we did visit the Kawarau bridge site, we got to witness one woman doing the jump naked, which was a little bit of a surprise for our guests to say the least. Since we were keen to do something exciting that involved white water and little actually risk, a jet boat ride seemed like a good option.

Shotover Jet was recommended to us and after a bit of discussion, a booking was made and the next morning we walked down to “The Station” to catch the shuttle out to the site. We were issued with the special red scarves and when the driver arrived, we all trooped down to the bus. It was just a short ride out to the Shotover River and our friendly driver explained all the safety information, which Danbi then translated in to Korean.

A jet boat speeds out of the gorge.

From the bus, we were shepherded down to the river, issued with spray jackets and buoyancy aids and had group photos taken. As we waited we were able to witness the jet boats tearing in and out of the gorge and preforming 360’s, it all looked pretty exciting.

After another safety briefing we climbed aboard, I picked an edge seat for maximum thrills and once everyone was in, we were off. The gorge was pretty tight and Nick, our expert driver, was a master at extracting as much excitement as possible, with close passes, high speed turns and 360’s as we skimmed across the waters surface and the rock walls flashed by. Being on the outside edge, I tended to get splashed with a certain amount of spray but generally stayed pretty dry, though I could have done with windscreen wipers on my glasses.

We headed down stream until the gorge opened up and the river widen, becoming shallower. Two dogs chased our boat along the bank before we put them behind us is a cloud of spray. Once we reached the limit of the commercial run, we spun round (several times actually) and headed back up the river, pausing briefly for a chat and to allow the other boats to clear the narrow gorge before we reentered it, all coordinated via radio.

The trip back was exciting and there were plenty more 360’s to be had. Up past the launch point we went, slowing to pass a number of rafts coming off the rafting section. At the upper end of the river that could be accessed by a jet boat, we watched the rafts come down the final big rapid after exiting the old tunnel, built in an attempt to extract gold from the river bed. The white water rafting looked like a lot of fun and I’d certainly be keen to give it a go on another trip.

Back down the river giving the rafters a wide berth, a few more 360’s, a high speed group photo and then we disembarked. Looking at the photo it is pretty clear almost everyone enjoyed themselves (the exception being the elderly Indian couple who definitely seemed to be wondering what their sons had got them in to). In-Sung’s worried expression at the start had changed to a wide smile, though when asked if they wanted to again, our guests replied “yes, but not today”.

A group photo…at speed.

It was a really fun trip, a great mix of excitement, scenery, water, rocks and thrills, in a safe environment, definitely worth doing if you are in Queenstown.

17th December 2017: Hurunui River

Date:    17/12/17
River:    Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:   15 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2 – 3, water clear.
Weather Conditions:  Warm and sunny with light north westerly winds.
Number on Trip:    30 kayakers, with 12 doing Maori Gully
Time on River: 
4 hours.
Comments: 
I had planned to paddle the Hurunui around the end of November but ended up flying to Australia to do an induction for a new job instead. I was definitely looking forward to getting out on the river by the time I got back. The weather looked great, sunny, warm with not too much strength in the nor-wester. There were a lot of people at the meeting point, taking advantage of the beautiful summers day. I soon had my boat loaded up and we were off to the put in at South Branch.

There was possibly a little confusion over the exact put in, with those with 4X4s taking the rougher track to the confluence of the two branches and the others putting in on the South Branch, near the bridge. There was a bit of a wait while shuttles were run etc, and we put this time to good use by paddling upstream to the first rapid and played around on that. Matt, freshly back from the Freestyle World Championships in Argentina, was paddling his old school Wavesport XXX decided that rock splats were the theme for the day and those that could were soon doing them whenever the opportunity presented itself. Eventually it was decided that everyone was on the river (with so many on the river, it was at times difficult to determine exactly what was happening), so loose groupings occurred and we headed on downstream.

The water was cool, clear with a greenish hue, and the sun warm, it was a great day to be out on the river. We were also most fortunate that the nor-westerly winds were relatively light. The river was flowing at a pretty low level, meaning that there was little push in the water, making catching waves and eddies relatively easy, it also meant there were a lot more rocks exposed.

On the way down to Dozy Stream, we discussed Devil’s Fang Falls. the general consensus from those that had stopped to look at it, was that it was too bony to run safely via the normal routes and that most people planned to walk it. I never really like getting out of my kayak, but it certainly seemed like the sensible thing to do.

My usual route down Devil’s Fang Falls, looking particularly toothy at this low flow.

So instead of heading down the right hand channel, most of us went down the left hand channel (which used to be the old chicken route before it mostly dried up). I hugged the right hand side of the channel, hoping to get a look at the rapid and maybe see if there was an OK line that dropped down below the toothy section. Picking my way between the rocks, I spotted a likely path and pretty soon the current caught me and required my commitment to run it cleanly rather than dither about and end up stuck on a rock or worse (going down backwards, upside or both didn’t seem like desirable options). I took the channel to the left of the big rock in the photo below and made it through cleanly, though I’m not sure if I went as deep as the paddler pictured below.

Going down (way down) the left hand channel on Devil’s Fang Falls.

Matt came down a similar route but got caught up on some rocks and ended up bouncing down the line to the right of the rock pictured above. He had a nice play around in the foam below the rapids while I took photos of the others who chose to come down the way we had.

Matt plays around below Devil’s Fang Falls.

John R took the usual channel and pulled into the eddy just above the drop for a look, then decided to portage, while the rest of the group portaged down the left bank.

Getting some air, just down from the Dozy Stream put in.

The low flow made the rapid below the Dozy Stream put in, a little more forgiving. Many of our group choose to get some air by boofing off the rock at the top of the rapid (pictured above), and the hole (pictured below) provided some excellent rides without the usually risk of getting trashed and then swept into the bluff at the bottom of the rapid.

Surfing on the play wave, just down from the Dozy Stream put in.

On down to Seawards was a pleasant paddle even though the wind picked up a little. We stopped for a while at Seaward’s while people sorted out cars, shuttles, gear & dry clothes (or in some cases, failed to do these things). Eventually someone took the lead and lead us off into Maori Gully.

Rock splat in the Magic Roundabout.

The Magic Roundabout was fun and not quite as pushy as it can be at higher flows. We played around there for a bit, until I noticed most of the group had continued on.

The boulder garden and Bum Rock rapids were fun, with some of the features being a bit more pronounced in the low flow, but without the force. The run out below the Elevator was pretty bouncy with some interesting dynamics, and I found myself upside down. I soon rolled upright, but as the water was still pretty rough and I almost ran into Paul, I went over again. I rolled up easily and this time stayed up, it is always nice to know that I can actually roll, but I definitely prefer it if I can keep my hair dry.

Cheese Grater demonstrating it strong kick to the left.

Cheese Grater always makes me a little nervous, especially at low flow, when the drop becomes steeper and the rocks responsible for the rapid’s name are clearly visible just below the water’s surface. At low flows, the kick to the left is also more noticeable. The first couple of paddlers made it down without any dramas, though the push to the left was definitely a factor. I lined up to the right of centre, but as I neared the lip, I had a not particularly pleasant view of all the teeth, clearly visible through the green and glassy water. I made a few course adjustments to avoid the rocks, and then headed down a green tongue, with my kayaks nose pointing to the right. I got through alright but the current pushed me very close to the rocks on the left hand side. I found a position where I could park up and take photos without being swept back into the flow. Everyone got through without any major problems, but almost everyone got swept into the left bank.

The Corner Rapid was until recently the resting place of a jet boat that had failed to successfully negotiate Maori Gully and sank. Apparently someone had recently salvaged it or it had broken up, so only a few pieces were still visible below the water. At the take out, we caught up with a group of pack rafters, who had paddled down from Jollie Brook. Since it was a hot day and the water looked particularly inviting, I dragged to kayak up on to the bank and proceeded to have a nice, refreshing swim as well as jumping off the cliff a couple of times.

Cliff jumping at the Maori Gully take out. A great way to cool off and wind down.

After that, it was a very sore and tired me that climbed up the steep track back to the cars. Got changed and after a bit of a sit down, (while those who didn’t organise for their vehicles, clothes & lunches to be in the correct place at the end of the trip, got these things sorted out), we headed back in to town.