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6th February 2020: Avon River (Ōtākaro)

Date:    6/02/2020
Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
River Conditions:   
1.492 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:   
Warm, sunny, a few clouds & strengthening SW winds.
Number on Trip:    
2 people.
Time on River:  
1.3 hours.
Comments:  Lauri’s new spray deck had arrived earlier in the week and going for a paddle on Waitangi Day seemed like a good idea. The morning weather had been still and perfect, but when we made our way down to the river after lunch, the wind had begun to pick up and the predicted weather change was on it’s way.

Paddling downstream into the wind, the poplar tree in the distance gives some indication of the strength.

There wasn’t much current, though we did have a head wind for the early part, but this didn’t slow Lauri down and when ever I stopped to take a photo, I had to work hard to catch up with her faster boat. We quickly reached the point where Dudley Creek flows into the Avon and I asked Lauri how much further she wanted to go and she was keen to carry on down to the dairy by the Gayhurst Bridge, about a little over 2km down stream from our put in.

It was a beautiful day to be on the river and Lauri really appreciated her comfortable new Rasdex spray deck with its convenient gear pocket for her camera and snacks (duck food). We are really lucky to live so close to such an amazing recreational resource as the the Red Zone and it is wonderful to be able to walk down to the river and be in a semi rural paradise within 5 minutes of leaving our door. It is quite special to be sitting in a kayak on a beautiful river, surrounded by green parkland and trees, with views out to the Port Hills in the distance.

Clouds forming overhead herald a change in the weather.

On the way down to the bridge, an almost fully grown, lone signet decided we were chasing it, despite giving it a wide berth, so it was a relief when we got past it and it eventually turn to semi-fly back upstream to it’s parents. Eventually we reached the Gayhurst Bridge, performed a few slalom moves around the pillars before heading back up stream, while dramatic clouds formed in the west.

On the way back we had to paddle hard to get past the signet again, despite us hugging the bank and trying to be inconspicuous. I also had an interesting experience as a scaup zig zagged in front of me in a sort of flying, skimming way. Every time I changed direction, it would change direction to cut me off, staying a couple of metres in front of me. This carried on for over 100m, I think the scaup was trying to lure me away from a nest or chicks or something, eventually it broke off the reverse “chase” and headed back down stream.

It is always nice to see others exploring and enjoying the river as it flow through the Red Zone.

We passed a few other river users enjoying the sun and exploring the river (complete with pith helmet), plus the odd race boater out training. Lauri was somewhat surprised to find we had been out on the river for over an hour and was just a little tired when we made it back to the boat ramp near the Swans Road Bridge. We loaded Lauri’s boat on her trolley and then trundled off home before the sky grew dark and it rained.

12th January 2020: Hurunui River

Date:   12/01/20
River:    Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:  25 rising to 36 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2 – 3, water swift & clear.
Weather Conditions: Warm, overcast, occasional rain, sunny patches with increasingly strong nor-westerly winds.
Number on Trip:  19 kayakers (9 doing Maori Gully), plus 2 stand up paddle boarders.
Time on River: 
5 hours
Comments:  There was some concerns about the weather up in the hills with strong winds and the potential for rain about the main divide, still Sunday morning dawned to a warm but overcast day and so around 20 paddlers found themselves heading up to the Hurunui. There seemed to be a bit of wind and as we approached the hills, spots of rain appeared on the windscreen. It was raining lightly as we got out to inspect Devil’s Fang Falls, there was a scramble for jackets removed due to the heat in town, lines were discussed and then we all scrambled back into the vehicles for the drive up to Jollie Brook.

Devil’s Fang Falls. The general line is towards the bottom of the photo.

At Joliie Brook, we changed in to our paddling gear and divided up into three groups to ensure that there was plenty of support for the many beginners on the trip. While the shuttle was being run, we all had a good warm up around the put in below the swing bridge. Looking around at all the new kayakers, I suddenly realised that many of the old club stalwarts had disappeared over the years and I was now one of the “older” club members. Seeing all the young faces on the river, it occurred to me that I might actually be the oldest member on the trip. When AJ go back, I paddled over to check his age and it turned out he is about 3 or 4 years older than me, whew. It is quite impressive that he only took up white water kayaking a year or two ago, and is now quite a good paddler and his enthusiasm and keenness to organise trips is a real asset to the club.

Anna on one of the Jollie Brook section rapids.

Our group of six headed off first and we had a fun time working our way down through the boulder gardens. The Jollie Brook section has some nice gorges, rapids and boulder gardens that makes for an interesting paddle. This is one of my favourite parts of the river as there is so much to do, eddies to catch and waves to surf. This meant I often had to work to catch up after working my way down rapids backwards, jumping from hole to hole or boulder to boulder. I had a little spill on one hole, when I dropped in and promptly flipped. After a bit of set up and a slightly botched first attempt, I was upright and avoided an embarrassing swim. Annoyingly I noticed that I was having issues with droplets forming on the centre of my camera lense and not being able to easily get rid of them, hence some of my photos have visible water spots, the light rain didn’t help much either.

Our group floating down one of the flatter sections.

We had a number of brief plays as we made our way down to the confluence with the South Branch, from here the river opens up with more flatter sections between rapids. As we approached Devil’s Fang Falls, we discussed the options and half of the group decided to take the left hand channel and portage to below the rapid. Having looked at the falls on the drive up, I’d already picked my line and pushed through the hole at the top, down the tongue and avoided the fang, before cutting into the eddy at the bottom to get photos of the others as they came down. All good.

AJ gets some air of the Devil’s Fang.

AJ followed me down, taking a similar line in his Axiom, however his boat decided to try and launch itself in to space using the Devil’s Fang as a launch ramp. A pretty spectacular move and I was glad I managed to capture the whole sequence, including the successful splash down. AJ was happy as he pulled into the eddy behind me, a successful run down the falls always boosts the confidence.

Anna pulls a move at the top of Devil’s Fang Falls.

Anna came down next in her much shorter play boat, though things didn’t go quite so well. The tail of her Rad caught in the hole at the top of the falls, pushing the nose of her kayak high up into the air. From here, things got a little messy and the boat ended up going down the tongue upside down. Missing the fang and rolling upright at the bottom of the rapid, with no damage done was a relief, as there are plenty of rocks to hit and some potential for injury in running this rapid in this particular orientation. Still things were all good and we paddled down to the Dozy Stream put in and waited for the others to get back on the river.

The top part of the rapid below the Dozy Stream put in.

We had a brief play on the wave just down from the Dozy Stream put in, it seemed a little bit more vigorous than I would have expected at 25 cumecs and so I was happy to take a few pictures and do a few cuts back and forth across the fast moving face of the wave, taking care not to get swept down to the bluff. Hit the face right, would send you shooting across to the other side of the river, getting it wrong, well that would be a different story, generally one involving being upside down and hoping you managed to roll before being pushed against the bluff at the bottom of the rapid and I’ve seen better kayakers than me come to grief here.

We carried on downstream, past the old “Eddy of Doom”, now blocked off and filled in, by passed by an easy riffle rapid. On down the flat section, against the steep cliffs, where there used to be a popular “whoopee” spot, long since gone. Looking back, we noticed that AJ, who was trailing well behind, was out of his boat and swimming. As we couldn’t paddle back up stream, we had to wait until he floated down to us in order to push him to the side and get him back in his boat. Turned out he had been playing about, ended up tipping and being push against the cliff, making a roll difficult. This stressed the point to always keep an eye on all the members of your group, no matter what their skill level is, and make sure no one is left behind. Also worth remembering too, if you want to try something tricky or new, make sure someone else is watching or at least aware of what you are up to.

No further dramas and we made it down to Seawards, where we got to stretch our legs and those not doing Maori Gully got out. We had a bit of wait for the other two groups, as they were well behind us. When they arrived, there was some excitement as some of the newer kayakers missed the get out, while others decided to swim above the get out and try to continue their journey into Maori Gully swimming beside their kayaks. A number of people climbed back in to their kayaks, while others grabbed throw bags and ran along the edge of wave train rapid at Seawards. Boats and swimmers were soon rescued without drama and no one was swept into the dreaded Maori Gully before they were ready.

Tony paddles past the Magic Roundabout on his SUP.

We put together a group of keen kayakers to run Maori Gully, while the rest of the group would run the shuttle. Tony was joined by another stand up paddle boarder and they set off together, with the kayakers following behind. At the Magic Roundabout, the kayakers chose to play around while the SUP boarders carried on through the gully (I was a little disappointed as I was interested in how they would handle the more difficult rapids, especially Cheese Grater). Looking at the two rocks in the middle of the roundabout, seemed to indicate that the river had risen since we started, as they were more obscured than would be expected at 25 cumecs, this was later confirmed when we went online and the gauge was reading 36 cumecs.

Hamish playing in Maori Gully.

There were a few kayakers in our party that hadn’t run Maori Gully before, so tips were given, lines explained and Anna chose to swap her Rad for a larger boat. The gorge is a little more pushy at 36 cumecs and not quite as cruisy as we expected, still there were no issues and the more confidant were happy to play in places.

Hamish runs Cheese Grater.

We worked our way down past the boulder garden, past Bum Rock and then down the elevator, before dropping into the big eddy above Cheese Grater. There were the usual nerves and the lines were discussed. I watched the first couple of paddlers go down without any dramas, so moved into position, checked the line and pushed go. At the lip, the drop looked impressive, with the tongue dropping down deep before climbing up to the top of a massive standing wave. I made sure I kept up the boat speed and charged down the tongue. Down, down, down, I went, then up, up, up, over the top and down the rest of the rapid before breaking into an eddy and getting the camera out. There was no kick to the left today and everyone seemed run the rapid cleanly.

From here, down another rapid and the through the corner rapid, where some of the group had a go at trying to surf the large wave at the bottom. A brief play at the Pop Up Spot and then off to the take out and the wearying trudge up the endless steps (something I have not missed, though nicer with the Blitz rather than the heavier Salto). Our vehicles were waiting, the change into dry cloths was appreciated, vehicles were loaded and then it was off to the Brew Moon in Amberley for a brew. Jackets, hoodies and tops were removed as we got closer to Christchurch and the temperature rose to over 30 degrees, quite impressive to be that warm at 7pm. Then home, tired and sore, for pizza and a rest.

3rd January 2020: Avon River

Date:    3/01/2020
Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
River Conditions:   
1.090 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:   
Cool, overcast, very light breezes. Light showers.
Number on Trip:    
2 people.
Time on River:  
2 hours.
Comments:  In the continuation of our search for where Greta the Shelduck has gone during the moult, we decided to continue our paddle down the Avon from the Avondale Road bridge. We got changed into our paddling gear, loaded up the boats and my mountain bike, and drove down to where we intended to put in. I dropped off Lauri and the kayaks and then drove to the end of Kibblewhite Street in New Brighton. I parked up and road my bike along the cycle trail that runs beside the river. It took around 20 minutes to get back and I was occasionally hissed at by the canada geese I disturbed on the stop bank.

The river bank has evolved over time, as the land levels dropped somewhat after the earthquakes, and much of the area was abandoned.

Once back at the put in, I grabbed a quick drink before getting Lauri launched in to the river. She noted that we seemed to have got the tide times wrong as it was definitely low tide and the river was flowing upstream at a reasonable rate. So much for our easy drift down stream. The day was overcast but very still, so we were rewarded with some very dramatic skies and mirror flat water. It was also interesting seeing parts of the river we had never paddled before, and to think about the various changes in character the river undergoes on its’ journey to the estuary.

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the river.

Lauri had a few issues with her spray deck and we’ll need to get her something more comfortable, but her new buoyancy aid was appreciated with its’ ample pockets and convenient drinking bladder. The river widened as we progressed, and the current slowed. Near the end of our journey, we passed Naughty Boys Island, named after a tragic event that claimed the lives of two boys who died after the tunnel they were digging in the river bank, collapsed.

Paddling on clouds.

After the island, the river widens and merges with the estuary, the mirrored surface of the water reflected the hills and clouds, and Lauri described it as like “paddling through the clouds and sky” and found it quite unnerving. It was certainly interesting if you focused on the horizon and the sky and water seem to merge to become one, with your kayak gliding smoothly along. We rafted up and ate a raspberry twist while admiring this spectacle.

Eventually we reached the get out, unfolded ourselves out of our boats and loaded them on to the car. We drove back to the put in to pick up my bike, which was fortunately still there and then drove home to warm up with a cup of soup.

22nd December 2019: Ashley River

Date:   22/12/19
Ashley River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:  
12 cumecs at Ashley Gorge. Water slightly discoloured and cool. Grade 3.
Weather Conditions:  
Overcast, clearing to sunny & warm.
Number on Trip: 
Time on River: 
4.25 hours.
Comments:  With the Ashley running at around 12 cumecs,and fine weather forecast, Ian decide it would be a great day for a paddle. Unfortunately someone decided to park a fishing boat on Waimairi Beach, so Ian had to bail as duty called. There was a little delay as a result, but once we were all assembled at the camp ground, we soon had the shuttle sorted out and were off to the put in at the middle bridge..

John R shoots the gap.

We had a number of paddlers that hadn’t paddled this section before and the flow at only 12 cumecs provide a nice easy introduction while still offering plenty of fun.

A perfect play spot for making some moves.

The were plenty of good play spots and most of the team were keen to demonstrate their skills, make some moves, have some fun or just push their own personal boundaries.

AJ punches through.

There were very few dramas and it was great to be out on the river enjoying the sun and warm conditions. The rapids weren’t too pushy, but with enough water flowing through them to cover the rocks and provide some good lines with plenty of time to make decisions.

Making the moves.

The main drop in the gorge had a bit of a hole formed above it and it was interesting to see the various lines that people chose.

Matt runs the main drop in the Ashley Gorge.

Most avoided the hole and then ran the drop cleanly down the tongue or boofed off to the left.

Anna styling the main drop.

The line taken in the photo above was one of the more impressive, as Anna ran the drop almost sideways to flick around at the bottom to have a surf and catch the eddy. Some styling moves alright.

A splash of colour in the green of the Ashley Gorge.

The gorge was quite beautiful and it was great to be away from the city and all the pressures of life, especially with the lead up to Christmas, you could almost feel the stress melt away with the warm sunshine.

More moves from Anna at the play spot.

We took our time and really enjoyed all the neat play spots the river had on offer.

Nicole enjoys a good surf.

It is a real pleasure to be on the river and to see everyone having fun and enjoying themselves. It was also good to see people learning and trying new things. I had some nice surfs on some of the waves but I’m not really keen to try out any play moves, as I prefer to stay upright. Still it is a very satisfying feeling when you manage to get the perfect balance on a wave and are able to hold yourself suspended seemingly forever above a hole, as the water rushes beneath your kayak.

Nicole making some moves at one of the play spots.

The last major rapid of the gorge always provides some great photographs as people shoot through the narrow gap between the rocks, it looks dramatic with the white water and looming rocks. Nearly everyone had gone through, when an upside down boat floated past, I put away the camera and set off in pursuit. The paddler bailed out and was soon being helped to shore by the others in the the group. While he was getting back in to his boat, I thought I’d try out something new as a bit of a challenge.

Anna running the gap on one of the last grade 3 rapids.

Paddling upstream on the opposite side of the rock pictured above, into the position where John R is pictured sitting in the background of the above photo. From here the move involves surfing down a hole above the picture rock in order to avoid being swept into it. You then break out and continue down the line in the foreground. Simple. I almost chicken out as I looked at the water being swept into the large rock and the unfriendly hole I needed to surf across.

I broke out and dropped into the hole, working my way across the river and was almost across when I tipped over. Fortunately I was past the rock, but now found myself upside down, being swept backwards down the main channel. I rolled, failed to get upright properly and was still going down the rapid but was now pushed against the back deck and short on breath, so I decided to pull the deck and go for my first swim of the season. Holding my paddle and towing my kayak, I swam to shore and self rescued. The water was warm and swimming was pleasant, but I needed a few moments before I got my breath back and could empty out my kayak and get back on the water. Funnily enough, part of me misses going for regular swims down rapids, the connection with the river seems so much more “intimate” when you are actually in the water.

From here it was a fun paddle to the get out, with some beautiful scenery, nice rapids and the occasional play spot. Feeling tired and a little sore by the time we reached the camp ground, then into some dry clothes before clambering into the back of the van for the ride back to the vehicles. We completed the shuttle, loaded up the boats and headed back into town. Such a excellent way to kick off the holidays.

21st December 2019: Avon River

Date:    21/12/2019
Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
River Conditions:   
1.141 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:   
Sunny and warm, nor-easterly breezes.
Number on Trip:    
2 people.
Time on River:  
2 hours.
Comments:  Lauri was keen to paddle down stream from our place to Kerrs Reach and possibly a little beyond to see if we could see where Greta the Shelduck had gone to. I attached the bike rack to the car, pumped up my bike tyres, loaded it on the rack and drove down to Kerrs Reach so we wouldn’t have to paddle back upstream. From the Arawa boatsheds at Kerrs Reach, I cycled down the stop bank to the Avondale Road bridge, all the while keeping an eye out for paradise shelducks, and the back home along the northern bank.

After lunch, we got kitted up and took the kayaks down to the river. Our plan for a leisurely drift / paddle downstream was somewhat thwarted by an incoming tide and headwinds, meaning that any time we stopped paddling, we started floating upstream. Still it was a nice day and good to be on the river.

Heading downstream through the Red Zone.

We didn’t see any sign of Greta, but there were a number of pairs of shelducks and some of those had ducklings with them. We also saw lots of canada geese, swans, ducks, scaups, shags and even a largish school of fish. At Kerrs Reach, a group of high school rowers must have been having their end of year event, so there were a number of boats being rowed erratically by mixed groups of parents & students, which we largely tried to avoid. There were also plenty of geese and swans, and a little further down was a family of shelducks with twelve, almost grown juveniles. A pretty amazing achievement to have that many survive to near adulthood.

From here we continued on, only planning to go a little further, then just to the bend and eventually down to the Avondale Road bridge, some 2 kilometres from where we left the car. The rowers gave over the river to the race boaters from Arawa, but there was no sign of Greta, so we turned around and headed back up the river, past more paddlers enjoying a fine day out on the river. By the time we got back to the car, Lauri was quite tired and we were both glad to head home for rest.

9th December 2019: Lyttelton Harbour

Date: 9/12/2019
Lyttelton Harbour, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, New Zealand.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and warm, light winds.
Number on Trip:
15 people.
Time on Water:
1.5 Hours.
New Zealand is one of the last remaining countries still importing phosphate from the illegally occupied territory of Western Sahara. Josie had organised a land and sea protest, which had intended to blockage the Federal Crimson, the ship carrying the stolen phosphate. Ravensdown delayed the ship’s arrival time and then let the ship sit at anchor offshore for several days before sneaking in to Lyttelton Harbour after dark on Sunday night, so our plans had to change. This meant only those that could take Monday off with little or no notice were available to take part. Lauri was keen to take part and I was happy make sure she was properly looked after. We sorted our gear the night before and discovered that Lauri’s buoyancy aid had shrunk. I drove out to our storage locker and picked up her canoe polo BA, but that had also shrunk, so in the end I let her use my one, while I would wear her small one.

Paddling towards the Federal Crimson.

The day dawned, sunny and warm, a great day for a paddle. We loaded up the boats and drove out to the planned launch point to meet up with the rest of the group. There was a good size group at the boat ramp when we got there, but the planned extra sit on top kayaks hadn’t arrived. After waiting a little longer, we kitted ourselves out with Western Sahara flags and launched in to the harbour. Our little group included, an inflatable double kayak, a stand up paddle board and a number of kayaks (sea, sit on tops and us in our white water boats). It was a beautiful day for a paddle and the harbour was flat with little wind, so we easily covered the 800 metres to where the Federal Crimson was berthed.

Attaching a Western Saharan flag to the side of Federal Crimson.

The ship was massive and red, and as part of the protest we attached a large Western Saharan flag to the side of it using some powerful magnets. Once this was done we all cheered and sang a protest song, while our accompanying yacht sailed back and forth, with the photographers on the deck taking photos and video. We then paddled to the stern of the ship to join in chants with the shore based protest. As the trailer full of kayaks had arrived, those that had been previously disappointed at being unable to be part of the flotilla (all dressed up but with no boat to paddle), were able to join us on the water.

Protesting & paddling.

One paddler climbed out of his boat and onto the ships rudder. While he was posing for photos, his sit on top floated off and under the jetty, followed by other paddlers. We’d been told not to go under the jetties by the organisers but it was necessary to follow the drifting boat. There was a bit of drama returning the boat to the guy on the rudder but the group chasing the boat managed it in the end, all the whilst the authorities looked on.

Once paddler and kayak were reunited, we returned to where we had placed the flag on the ships hull for more photos and chants. Removing the flag was a little tricky as the magnets holding it in place were very strong. An overzealous tug left one of the top magnets stuck high above the heads of those in kayaks, but fortunately it was rescued by the stand up paddle boarder. From there, we paddled back across the harbour to the boat ramp. There were a couple of police officers waiting and they issued a warning to the person who had been standing on the rudder. We had a debrief, packed up our gear and then Shane turned up with some much welcomed food. We had a good morning, it was good to catch up with people, enjoy the sun and to bring awareness to an important issue. Thanks Josie and all those involved to bring about such a successful protest.

The Press ran a story on the protest and that is available here.

23rd November 2019: Hurunui River

Date:   23/11/19
River:    Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:  66 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2 – 3, water swift & clear.
Weather Conditions: Sunny & warm with occasional strong easterly wind gusts.
Number on Trip:  8 kayakers (4 doing Maori Gully).
Time on River: 
3 hours
Comments:  The stars finally aligned and I was off on my first white water trip of the season. It was good to load up the Blitz and head off to the Belfast Tavern, even if I was feeling a little nervous. We sorted out vehicles and then we were off to Hurunui. I was travelling with Crispin and his son Zac, with Zac practicing his driving skills by driving us most of the way. We were team Bliss-stick, as our roof rack was predominately Bliss-stick boats, with a lone Jackson kayak.

We stopped off at Devil’s Fang Falls for a brief inspection, with the river running a bit higher than normal, there were plenty of lines to choose from. Many of the rocks under water, but there was a foaming mass of white water below the central line and going down the left hand side would have been interesting to say the least. We picked our lines and noted the features for future reference, then back into the cars.

When we arrived at Jollie Brook, there was a big group of WWCC beginners gathered for additional training on the river. We also found that Crispin’s roof rack had come loose on one end and the boats were only just held on, so it was lucky that nothing had fallen off. We unloaded and got changed, then waited around while the shuttle was run. We got on the river for a bit of a warm up before our shuttle drivers returned, it was good to be back on the river and to find out that my skills hadn’t departed, even if my fitness was somewhat lacking.

Playing on the Jollie Brook section.

Once our drivers returned, we started off downstream so as not to crowd out the beginners. I enjoyed working my way down through the boulder gardens, surfing on the various holes and waves, splashing through the wave trains, and feeling my confidence returning. We took our time, enjoying the sun and the river, taking photos where I could.

Double action.

We had a good team and everyone was keen to play and push themselves. It is good to be on the river with a solid group of people, enjoying the sunshine and a great flow, it always reminds me why I love white water kayaking. At the bluff before the confluence with the South Branch, Jono demonstrated his skills by getting over the pillow at the base of the bluff, which looked somewhat daunting at the increased flow, and up into the micro eddy against the rock face. Others gave it ago, but no one pulled it off quite so successfully.

Playing around and enjoying the sun.

I always get nervous coming up to Devil’s Fang Falls, even though it is relatively straight forward and I’ve done it many times, I still get butterflies. Today I took the lead as I wanted to get into position at the bottom so I could get photos of the rest of the group. Having scoped out the line from the road, I took the right line, avoiding the centre rooster tail and the turnover at its margin, then breaking into the eddy at the bottom to quickly get the camera out before anyone followed me down. Everyone else came down a similar, though the odd person disappeared in to the foaming mass towards the centre, there were no dramas. Once down, Crispin, Jono and a few others had a bit of a surf in the hole at the base, sometimes with only theirs heads visible above the foam.

Playing in the foamy hole at the bottom of Devil’s Fang Falls.

At this flow, the next rapid with its’ popular play wave and not so forgiving run out, had few takers. I intended to drop in to the eddy on the right to take photos, but found myself washed through and heading for the bluff. I dodged that turmoil and got in to the left hand eddy and only managed to get a few pictures before we carried on downstream. By now I was feeling a bit tired but still enjoying the river. I wasn’t feeling confident enough to do Maori Gully and was quite happy to get out at Seawards. Chatted with Zac in the sun, while waited for the shuttle to be run, before heading down to the Maori Gully take out to wait for the rest of the group to arrive. Crispin and Zac did some work to lash the roof rack in place, before we loaded up and headed back to town, with a brief stop at Brew Moon for beers & pizza.

17th November 2019: Avon River

Date:    17/11/2019
Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
River Conditions:   
1.983 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:   
Sunny and warm, nor-easterly breezes.
Number on Trip:    
2 people.
Time on River:  
1 hour.
Comments:  Another beautiful day and Lauri was keen for a paddle so we got up and sorted out the boats and gear. It isn’t as much drama to get kitted up and out the door as it was to begin with. Greta the Shelduck showed no interest in following us down to the river and was happy to remain sitting on top of my car, so we left her on her perch and trundled down to the Avon, Lauri towing her Prijon Fly on her little trolley and me carrying Blitz on my shoulder, enjoying it’s lightness over the much heavier Salto.

We seal launched from the bank, after packing Lauri’s trolley into the back of her kayak and headed down stream. Lauri noted she enjoyed the feeling of weightlessness of gliding over the water that kayaking gave her and it has been really great to share this with her and to see her enjoying being out on the water again. It is so nice to have such easy access to the river without the drama of driving anywhere.

Paddling up Dudley Creek was just like being out in the countryside.

We paddled down river as far as Dudley Creek and since the water level has reasonably high, we paddled under the bridge to explore the creek. Before the quakes there were a number of nice houses along the stream banks, accessible from Banks Avenue, now there is just grassland and trees, giving the feeling that you are paddling on a quiet brook through the countryside. We paddle as far as we could, disturbing a group of scaups, before our way was blocked by a low concrete bridge.

Exiting Dudley Creek and out on to the mighty Avon.

We turned back and paddled back upstream, collecting a couple of floating drink cans that had been discarded in to the river. Lauri also spotted a floating dolls head, looking somewhat worst for its time in the river. We retrieved it, as a slightly grotesque trophy and to reduce the amount of rubbish in the river,

We paddle passed Swanns Road bridge and said hello to the black swans, who were no longer sitting on their nest as they were the proud parents of five new signets. Then back down to the jetty and home for lunch, to find Greta still sitting on the car roof and asking for food too.

3rd November 2019: Avon River

Date:    2/11/2019
Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
River Conditions:   
1.885 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:   
Sunny and warm, nor-westerly breezes.
Number on Trip:    
2 people.
Time on River:  
2.5 hours.
Comments:  It was another beautiful day with not too much wind, so we decided to have a round of disc golf on our “private” course. Shortly after we started, Greta the Shelduck flew over from our place and down towards the river. We cut the game short at only one round of the five holes and returned home to get the kayaks.

When we finally got to the spot she normally hangs out in, she wasn’t there but we did get to meet another of Greta’s “guardians”, who she regularly visits for food and friendship. He filled us in on some more of Greta’s backstory, including that Flame & Molly, were apparently her parents and quite regularly hound (duck) her for hanging around with humans or not getting a new mate & producing more ducklings. It has been quite interesting to hear the various stories about her form the many people who have interacted with her before she turned up outside our place. She has certainly got around and seems very good at making friends where ever she goes.

Paddling the calm waters of the Avon River, through the Red Zone.

We paddled downstream enjoying the sun, warmth and beautiful scenery, not too far, just down to the riverside retreat corner. Turning around, we paddling back up to the Swanns Road bridge and found Greta, dabbling in the water and preening herself. Soon after we arrived, Flame & Molly arrived and began scolding Greta, with Flame & Molly on the island and Greta on the water. Lauri had positioned her paddle between the two parties and Greta ended up standing on the back of Lauri’s Prijon Fly to continue the “discussion” and to cadge duck food from Lauri.

Greta the Shelduck poses for a photo.

The discussion continued back and forth for some time, dinner time came and went, with the sun slowly sinking. I headed home to feed the cat and put my kayak away, before putting on some warm clothes, grabbing some food and heading back to the river to rescue Lauri from the Shelduck family dispute.

Greta’s parents arrive to question her life choices, while Greta uses the back of the kayak as a platform to press her case.

When I returned, things had calmed down and the strategy of feeding both sides seem to have brought about a fragile peace. I got Lauri to paddle down to the jetty and helped her out of her kayak, which wasn’t easy as she had been sitting in it for a couple of hours. She decided to walk back to the duck off while I carried her kayak home. When I got back, the peace was still holding so I coaxed Lauri home and we had pizza for dinner at about 9:20pm, having been on the river since a little after 4:15pm.

2nd November 2019: Avon River

Date:    2/11/2019
Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
River Conditions:   
1.863 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:   
Sunny and warm, nor-easterly breezes.
Number on Trip:    
2 people.
Time on River:  
1.5 hours.
Comments:  Lauri was keen to spend some time with Greta on river and so we were up relatively early and got our kayaking gear sorted out. As we were almost ready to head down to the river, Greta flew in and refused to follow us.

Following the black swans downstream through the Red Zone.

We put in and paddled a short way upstream passed the Swanns Road bridge and then decided that downstream would be a pleasanter trip as both sides of the river are Red Zoned, so there is no traffic noise. It was a beautiful day to be out on the river and our boats cut swiftly through the water. We passed a number of whitebaiters and a pair of ducks with over a dozen ducklings scattered all over the river, that they struggled to gather together as we approached. There were plenty of black swans and a few pairs of Shelducks.

Paddling up stream through the Red Zone, the water as smooth as glass.

We paddled back up stream, hoping to see Greta at the Swanns Road bridge. She wasn’t there when we arrived, so I wandered home to try and coax her down but she didn’t want to budge. Greta was still at our place when we returned from our paddle and didn’t leave until we walked her down to the river at dusk.