Category Archives: Lake

3rd August 2014: Lake Tekapo

Date:    3/08/14
River:    Lake Tekapo, Mackenzie Country, NZ
Lake Conditions:    Water cold and clear, light swell.
Weather Conditions:   Cold, slight drizzle, light winds.
Number on Trip:    2
Time on Lake:  1 hour.
Comments:   This was to be our last day in Tekapo and after the poor weather the day before, we weren’t entirely sure what we wanted to do before heading for home. As it seem to have stopped raining and was just cold and overcast, a paddle on the freezing cold lake seemed to be the perfect way to burn off a delicious  breakfast of pancakes, bacon, banana and maple syrup with real whipped cream. We drove to the boat ramp past the camping ground and got changed into slightly damp kayaking gear while a chill wind blew off the mountains at the far end of the lake. I managed to tear the neck seal of my Bomber dry jacket (apparently 8 years of use is a very long life for a dry top) while pulling it on a little too fast.

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Lauri makes her way towards Motuariki Island.

 Lauri lead the way, following the western shore line in the shadow of Mt John and I followed in her wake, enjoying the swell and the somewhat bleak scenery. In the distance, Motuariki Island beckoned but as we were short of time (not wanting to miss lunch) and the weather deteriorated after we had gone a bit over 2.5 kilometres, we turned for home. The trip back was a lot quicker with the wind at our backs and a following swell, and soon we were back on the beach trying to get out of our wet gear as quick as possible before hypothermia took hold, then off to the cafe atop of Mt John for lunch with a view.

 

1st August 2014: Lake Tekapo

Date:    1/08/14
River:    Lake Tekapo, Mackenzie Country, NZ
Lake Conditions:    Water cold and clear, choppy.
Weather Conditions:   Sunny but cold, strong NW winds.
Number on Trip:    2
Time on Lake:  1 hour.
Comments:   We arrived in Tekapo in the mid-afternoon and after checking in to the hotel, Lauri was keen to go for a paddle on the lake to make the most of the fine weather and remaining daylight hours. There was a strong wind blowing from the far end of the lake and this was creating a bit of a swell so we mainly just paddled around the near the Church of the Good Shepherd and the dammed outflow to the Tekapo River. This was quite fun as we were able to “surf” the swell back towards the shore. I noticed that there was actually some small waves breaking on the headland that the church was situated on and managed to get a few rides in, taking care to dodge the rocks. This was quite fun until the winds drop and the swell ceased.

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Lauri in her Prijon Fly with the Church of the Good Shepherd in the background.

Lauri was wanted to watch the sunset from the water but the weather worsen and by the time we got to shore the wind had changed direction and had risen to almost gale force. Tying the boats to the roof of the car in the rain and freezing winds was challenging and the fun aspect seemed to have disappeared by this stage. It was a relief to get back to the hotel, crank up the heater, have a shower and get in to some warm dry clothes before dinner.

 

11th January 2014: Lake Clearwater

Date:    11/01/14
Location:   
Lake Clearwater, Canterbury, NZ
Conditions:  
Clear water, slight chop.
Weather Conditions:  
Sunny with moderate NE winds.
Number on Trip:   
2 people.
Time on River: 
2.25 hours.
Comments:  
Since childhood Lauri had wanted to get out the the small island on the far side of Lake Clearwater, but had been thwarted by the lack of any available watercraft at the time. So over thirty years later, we drove out to the lake with our kayaks for a paddle. It was a beautiful day at the lake, with the wind bringing up a little bit of a chop, making some small but fun waves to paddle in to or surf down when running with the wind at your back. Explored the island and had a really nice day out in the sun and after our paddle we climbed a small hill near the township to visit another of Lauri’s special places from childhood and admire the view. On the way home we checked out the south branch of the Ashburton River and the grade 2 gorge seemed to have a reasonable flow but as it was late and we were unsure of the run, we decided not to paddle it and instead visited some friends in Mayfield before driving home.

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Lauri exploring Lake Clearwater.

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Circumnavigating the island, with the Lake Clearwater settlement off in the distance.

 

2013 Kayaking Season

Date: 24/11/13
River: Waiau River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions: 50 cumecs at Marble Point. Water discoloured, cool & swift. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions: Sunny & warm, light NW winds.
Number on Trip: 22 people.
Time on River: 5 Hours.
Comments: This was an unexpected bonus of a trip as I hadn’t thought that I’d be able to fit in any kayaking between getting back from the Sunshine Coast, going to Auckland for a Movie Marathon and then flying back to Australia. There were lots of new faces and plenty of beginners, but the day was warm and so we took our time getting down the river. A number of people decided to swim after failed rolls and so there was the odd rescue but no dramas. Hugh was out in his kayak for the first time in over a year, leaving the cataraft at home this time. The river was running fairly swiftly and so there were plenty of spots for a little play, which meant I was pretty tired by the end of the trip. Nice to be out on the river again after a long time stuck in Australia. Thanks Graeme for organising a superb trip on such a glorious day.

Getting ready at the put in

Getting ready at the put in

Playing at one of the larger rapids on the river

Playing at one of the larger rapids on the river

Playing at one of the larger rapids on the river

Playing at one of the larger rapids on the river

Hugh shows the line at Shark’s Tooth rapid

Hugh shows the line at Shark’s Tooth rapid

Running Shark’s Tooth rapid

Running Shark’s Tooth rapid

The now wonky bridge at the get out

The now wonky bridge at the get out


Date: 27/10/13
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
370 cumecs at Mandamus. Water discoloured, cold and swift. Grade 3 to 4.
Weather Conditions: Cold and rainy, strong nor-westerly winds .
Number on Trip: 2 people.
Time on River: 0
Comments: Lauri was keen to go camping up at Lake Taylor, however gale force nor-westerly winds and heavy rain about the main divide put a bit of a dampener on that. She was still keen to have a bit of a paddle and Sunday looked liked the weather would have subsided somewhat by then, so on a beautiful sunny day we loaded up the car and headed out of town. Over the Waimakariri River, looking very brown and swirly and running at over 1000 cumecs, and then over the Ashley River, running at almost 100 cumecs. Past perfect picturesque rural scenes with bright green grass and beautiful clean animals, that reminded Lauri of the too good to be real, picture postcards from childhood. Tasty toasted bagels for lunch at the Rocking Frog in Waikari and a look at the Weka Pass steam train and then off into the hills.

The view looking up Maori Gully

The view looking up Maori Gully

Looking down the Seaward River towards the entrance to Maori Gully

Looking down the Seaward River towards the entrance to Maori Gully

Dozy Stream put in

Dozy Stream put in 

Where Devil’s Fang Falls should be

Where Devil’s Fang Falls should be

Looking down into the gully above the South Branch confluence

Looking down into the gully above the South Branch confluence

As we crossed the Waitohi River (which was flowing at a good rate and may have provided a fun paddle provided the weren’t any willows blocking the river), the weather deteriorated. By the time we reached the Maori Gully take out, a cold rain was falling and this grew heavier as we moved up the valley. The river was pumping (having dropped from 419 cumecs earlier in the day) and a lot of familiar features were washed out, though many of the bluffs looked quite ferocious. The was a was out in the road just after the South Branch bridge and a temporary repair had been made, but when we got to the next ford, we turned back rather than attempt a crossing in our low slung, city car. We never reached Lake Taylor and neither of us felt like spending a lot of time out of the car, especially with the freezing cold, driving rain that was now falling, so it was back to the Rocking Frog, sunshine and a good cup of hot coffee.


Date: 22/9/13
River:
Ashley River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:
14 cumecs at Ashley Gorge, water clear, swift and cold. Grade 3.
Weather Conditions:
Cold, low cloud with intermittent rain.
Number on Trip:
10 people.
Time on River:
3.5 hours.
Comments:
This was a nice, low volume Ashley River trip down the grade 3 section of the Ashley Gorge. The weather wasn’t too flash and the idea of being wet and cold wasn’t all that promising. Still the opportunity to have a cruisy trip down the lower gorge and hopefully get some photos was appealing so Sunday morning found us standing around the Belfast Tavern car park in a light rain. Vehicles were loading and it was off to the Ashley Gorge Domain, where we were thankfully able to change in the shelter of the modern, public toilets instead of the old, dark changing room, with its wet floor. Back in the vehicle and up to the put in, with a slight halt to reattach Kerry’s roof rack after it failed under load, spilling boats on to the road side.

Alex breaks into the eddy at the bottom of one of the early rapids

Alex breaks into the eddy at the bottom of one of the early rapids

On the water, things felt better, the rain and cold largely forgotten, though I still had some early season nerves. We had a good strong team and Kerry encouraged people to try new things and try and catch as many eddies as possible, and much fun was had with little or no drama. The rain made the rocks shine and highlighted their beauty, contrasted against the greens of the bush and moss and the flowing water. The low cloud, gave the scene a magical, misty feel and it was a real pleasure to be on the water.

You never know what flotsam & jetsam will wash up in the forever eddy before the main gorge

You never know what flotsam & jetsam will wash up in the forever eddy before the main gorge

At the main drop, we stopped so that people could run it multiple times and I was able to get some photos from the shore (usually I never get out of my boat, so pictures are restricted to the view from the cockpit). Kerry showed his skills by surfing his playboat above the drop before doing cart wheel over the edge. All I managed was to tip at the bottom of my first run, but managed to do a roll on my first go, which improved my confidence. I tipped further down the river on one of the random grade 2 rapids further downstream, striking my helmet against a rock in the shallow water, no damage to me or my helmet and I was soon upright, with another solid roll. Kerry was amused, being one of the few people to notice as I was at the back of the group.

Kerry showing his skills on the main drop

Kerry showing his skills on the main drop

Really enjoyed the trip, the natural beauty was truly stunning and at this flow made the rapids fun and exciting, without the more daunting debris and swirling brown water that tends to be present at higher flows. Kerry paddle in a short sleeved top but by the end of the trip, I was pretty cold even with my poogees, half gloves, hot head, long sleeved, dry top, fuzzy rubber top and 2 layers of poly pro, Queensland has made me soft. It was nice to get changed in the dry again and even better to be enjoying a long black and chocolate brownie in Seagers Café in Oxford, whilst still being home in time to cook dinner before going out for the evening. Thanks Matt and everyone who came along for a great trip.


Date: 24/8/13
River:
Ashley River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:
14 cumecs at Ashley Gorge, water clear, swift and cold. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and clear, cool.
Number on Trip:
7 people.
Time on River:
2 hours.
Comments:
Colin R put out the call for anyone interested in a pre-season refresher trip and with a number of us keen for a nice easy trip down the upper part of the Ashley River with the added benefit of being able to get home early, a plan was soon put in place.

We put in at the Lees valley and had a fairly relaxed paddled down the first part and through the early rapids. The river flow was low but there was still plenty of water and only an occasional shallow spot. At one of the more difficult rapids, a bit of a long, grade 2 boulder garden, Graeme eddied out with the group to the river right above the large boulder at the start of the rapid, while I carried on down the more interesting left-hand channel and eddied out midway down the rapid. The first paddler down had no problems and carried on downstream. He was followed by Colin, who eddied out opposite me. As I looked down the river, I noticed the first paddlers boat was upside-down with him floating along with it. I alerted the others and raced down stream to help him ashore and pick up the resulting garage sale. Everyone else made it down without any additional drama and we were soon under way again.

A few more rapids followed without drama followed by a shore break for some food and a stretch of the legs. The water was clear and it was a real pleasure to be out on the river, especially when the sun managed to make it’s way into the gorge.

Colin R leads the way

Colin R leads the way

Hermione & Robin show what you can do with twice the boat & half the paddles

Hermione & Robin show what you can do with twice the boat & half the paddles

I was starting to feel a little tired as we neared the middle bridge and the end of the trip, a result of the lack of pre-season Brass Monkey training and catching plenty of eddies and waves on the way down. Colin decided to do a practice roll just below the bridge, which resulted in a swim. Fortunately everyone managed to get him and his gear to shore before it could be carried into the lower gorge.

It was a lovely day out and it was a pleasure to be out on the river with such a great group of people, with a special thanks to Colin for organising the trip and getting the season off to a good start.


Date: 12/5/13
River:
Ashley River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:
13 cumecs at Ashley Gorge, water clear, swift and cold. Grade 3.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and clear, cool.
Number on Trip:
6 people.
Time on River:
3.5 hours.
Comments:
Earlier in the week I’d watched the gauge on the Ashley River rise as a cold, wet south-westerly front rolled through and much as I like paddling the Ashley, I was having a hard time getting enthusiastic about spending too much time in the freezing rain. On my last break, I’d passed on a similar opportunity to paddle the Ashley after the proposed Rangitata trip was diverted due to another cold front bringing a heavy downpour. I guess that too much time in Queensland has made me a bit soft.

Things were looking up when the sun came out on Saturday but the Ashley was continuing to fall, when John H suggested either doing a run down the Ashley or the Hurunui on Sunday. I sorted out some gear in the evening but didn’t fully commit myself to the trip as with plans for Sunday evening I would be able to make a trip to the Hurunui. I woke early on Sunday morning and the day looked perfect and the Ashley was still running at 13 cumecs so there would be just enough water but I texted John just to be sure. Everything was looking good for a fun day on the Ashley.

The Belfast Tavern car park was relatively crowded but not a kayak in sight. The over 60’s tramping club had chosen this as their meeting place for a day trip. I spotted Hugh with his cataraft, all ready to go, mounted on one of the smaller trailers you could possibly get. Bob, Kerry and John H soon turned up and we headed off to meet Carston at the Ashley Gorge Domain.

The water was very cold, running swift and clear, but when the sun made it down to the bottom of the gorge it almost like summer. It isn’t often you can paddle the Ashley with weather like this, usually it is cold and rainy and the river brown and turbulent. We made our way down the river and at one rapid Kerry suggested playing a game to see who could catch the most eddies, with the winner scoring at least in the high twenties. Later at the forever eddy before main set of rapid, John found a tennis ball and a game of eddy polo ensued. This resulted in some amusement as paddlers attempted to recover the ball from whichever tricky eddy it had been thrown into. Eventually the ball split in half and sunk out of sight.

When the sun made it into the gorge, it almost looked warm

When the sun made it into the gorge, it almost looked warm

The main rapids were fairly cruisy given the lower flow, but still fun with plenty of rocks to dodge and eddy’s to catch. John decided he was interested in trying out Kerry’s Bliss Stick Super Rad (a very short play boat) and so after managing to finally squeeze his legs in, he had a short but exciting run down the next rapid before swapping back to his more forgiving creek boat.

John H squeezes into Kerry’s playboat

John H squeezes into Kerry’s playboat

Shortly after returning to his own boat, John took a swim on one of the later rapids, after his paddle disappeared from his hands at the top of the rapid (naughty rock!). After staying up right briefly, he was over and out of his boat and then the garage sale was on. Kerry managed to push his boat to shore, while John self rescued. Unfortunately there was no sign of his paddle so I followed him up stream with my boat to help him look for it. After some extra swimming about, a call went up from down stream as the paddle had turned at the bottom of the rapid and John got an extra swim to get back to the other side again. I paddled down the rapid again with a roll at the bottom due to a slightly messy manoeuvre, soon upright again but the water sure was cold though!

Hugh negotiates the final major rapid in his cataraft

Hugh negotiates the final major rapid in his cataraft

A few more rapids but no more drama. It was good to pass the water level monitoring point as it indicated we were almost out and I was pretty cold by this stage. We got out and changed into our dry clothes and then stood around, enjoying the sunshine, while the shuttle got run. A quick drive back to town and then home in a timely fashion so as not to incur the wrath of Lauri for being late.


Date: 7/4/13
Location:
Lyttelton Harbour, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, New Zealand.
Weather Conditions:
Overcast and cool.
Number on Trip:
8 people.
Time on Water:
4.5 Hours.
Comments:
I was back home again and the scheduled WWCC trip for the weekend was listed as a sea kayaking trip organised by Peter D. I asked Lauri if she was interested and as she was, I put our names down to hire a double kayak for the trip. The basic plan was to paddle from Cass Bay to Ripapa Island and then back to Quail Island for lunch and an explore before returning to Cass Bay. As the day drew closer we were a little worried by the distances involved and the possibility of bad weather, though Sunday dawned cool and overcast, the rain held back and Lyttelton Harbour was smooth and still without the hint of a wind to stir its’ surface. Once on the water, our group was soon under way with many of the paddlers powering ahead. The rudder of our kayak got stuck and wouldn’t lower into the water and we had to get another kayaker to fix it on the water. After this I realised I didn’t know how to adjust the foot pedals and with the spray deck on and most of our group disappearing into the distance, I decided just to stretch my legs out and wait until we stopped to fix it.

Heading for Ripapa Island. Photo by Lauri

Heading for Ripapa Island. Photo by Lauri

It was a fair way to Ripapa Island and it was hard to keep up with the group, but we soldiered on, with Lauri putting in a very good effort especially considering how little she has paddled recently, I felt hard pressed to keep up with her. We went ashore at Ripapa Island after landing on its’ rock shore and scaling its’ ramparts using a driftwood tree that had been leaned against the wall. Once inside, we explored the buildings, tunnels and gun emplacements, all of which seemed little damaged by the many quakes that had struck the region. The island has had an interesting history, from its’ occupation by Maori, its’ fortification against the 19th century Russian menace, the imprisonment of World War 1 German raider Felix Von Lucknow to today as a slightly earthquake damaged tourist attraction. Technically it is closed to the public at the moment but as we didn’t come through the front gate, we didn’t see any signs that may have been there.

Me posing by one of the guns on Ripapa Island. Photo by Lauri

Me posing by one of the guns on Ripapa Island. Photo by Lauri

From Ripapa Island we paddled back to Quail Island at a slightly more leisurely pace. Landing in a sandy bay was easy, though pulling the 5.5m long, 40+kg sea kayak up to above the high tide mark was a little demanding. We ate lunch in the picnic area and then set out to walk around the island and visit the old leper colony and information centre. Some nice views, especially looking down at the ships graveyard and trying to make out the various wrecks.

Exploring “inside” the barque “Darra”. Photo by Lauri

Exploring “inside” the barque “Darra”. Photo by Lauri

Back to the kayaks and off around the island. We explored the ships graveyard up close, paddling between the ribs of the barque “Darra” (built in 1885 and laid to rest here in 1951), before heading for home. We all had an enjoyable day out but it was nice to get back to shore before the rain started. Thanks Peter for organising the trip and well done Lauri for paddling so far (around 15km I guess).


Date: 16/3/13
Location:
Lake Cootharaba, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and warm.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on Water:
3 Hours.
Comments:
This was meant to be my rest day before leaving Cooroy and heading back to Blackwater but the Sunshine Coast is too beautiful not to explore. Due to a series of events, I ended up climbing Mount Ninderry (309m) and enjoying the peace and solitude at the top, while gazing down on the surrounding lands. Next stop was Mount Tinbeerwah (265m) with beautiful views over the Noosa Region, Mount Cooroy, the Noosa River and lakes, a nice easy walk with the car park almost at the top. From here I had lunch in Noosaville before heading to Boreen and then Elanda Point on the shores of Lake Cootharaba.

Malucca trees on the shore of Lake Cootharaba

Malucca trees on the shore of Lake Cootharaba

The launch site was a sandy beach, surrounded with tall, papery barked Malucca trees, growing out of a tea coloured wet land. The lake is apparently the largest in Queensland and I planned to paddle as far North as I could towards the upper Noosa River and the Noosa “Everglades”. The sign at the put in said the trip to Fig Tree Point would take about 1.5 hours, but I guess that was for someone paddling a 5m long sea kayak not a 2.2m white water play boat. Half an hour later I was at Mill Point, watching two large sea eagles as they flew from tree to tree to avoid the strange man in his little red and black kayak. The end of the lake still distant but I decided to keep going as there was still around 2.5 hours before sunset. The day was beautiful and clear, the lake’s surface was a little choppy as I paddled into the wind, the water was tea coloured and in places even reddish where the light shone on the sand in the shallows, in the distance the giant sand hills of the Great Sandy National Park towered over the forest covered shores I was heading for.

Looking across Lake Cootharaba to where I planned to paddle to in the far distance

Looking across Lake Cootharaba to where I planned to paddle to in the far distance

As I neared to the far end, a couple of boats appeared and I guessed that was the point I was to make for so I kept going, I wasn’t exactly sure up until then. At Kinaba, there was a information centre built on piles over the lake with a landing so I got out to stretch my legs and get my bearings. Once on the water again, I was able follow the signs up Kin Kin Creek, past Fig Tree Point, across the Fig Tree Lake, covered with lily pads and beautiful purple blooms and then up the upper Noosa River. The river flows through a low, forested wet land called by the tourist brochures the “Noosa Everglades” and described on a number of sites as one of Australia’s most beautiful rivers. Its mirrored surface and lushly vegetated banks were certainly quite beautiful and definitely worth the approximately 8-9km paddle to get there.

A yacht motored past me from upstream and I briefly pondered asking for a lift back, before watching them disappear down the river. After a short distance up the river I decided to head for home, this time paddling around the far side of the island, this turned out to be a fair distance and once I cleared the top of the island, my starting point was a distant blur on the horizon. It was pretty gruelling paddling straight across the lake, the surface was choppy at an angle to my boat, with it’s nose burying at times and surfing along at others. Occasionally reasonable sized fish would leap from the lake, landing with a splash, presumably fleeing some larger, unseen fish beneath the surface. Since the fish weren’t particularly small, it did have me wondering exactly what there might have been fleeing, apparently bull sharks can swim up the river so that was a possibility but I didn’t see any sign of that.

Eventually I made it back to Mill Point and was on the home stretch, the swell lessened as I watched the sun disappear behind the trees and it was almost twilight by the time I was back at the put in. The mosquitoes swarmed around me as I carried my kayak back to the car, at times covering my exposed arms. I only had a short sleeved top and shorts on, so it was a relief to put my long sleeved paddle jacket on while I got changed and packed up my gear. I stopped off for another take away curry and a beer before heading home to do the washing and pack my bags for the trip to Blackwater the next day.


Date: 10/3/13
Location:
Lake MacDonald, Cooroy, Queensland, Australia.
Weather Conditions:
Windy and occasional drizzle.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on Water:
1.5 Hours.
Comments:
I’d picked up my Australian based Blitz from where it had been languishing under Nick’s house in Brisbane for nearly two years, and transported up to the company house in Cooroy on the Sunshine Coast. This was the first time I’d seen it since leaving the Hunter Valley and it was good to have the opportunity to use it again. Before setting out, I checked the kayak for any creepy crawlies that may have taken up residence in it during its long hibernation, last thing you want to discover is a snake or spider after you’ve popped your deck on. Fortunately there were none and I was soon on the water.

Lake MacDonald viewed from the top of Mt Tinbeerwah

Lake MacDonald viewed from the top of Mt Tinbeerwah

It was quite a relief to be off the computer and to get out of the house. The was a wind blowing down the lake, making the surface a little choppy and it was fun to power along with the spray breaking across the nose of play boat, while not exactly suited to flat water paddling, it is definitely better than the alternative of not kayaking. I paddled as far as I could down one of the arms of the lake, it was quite beautiful, surrounded by forest, the surface of the lake dotted with lily pads. The paddle back into the sunset was a bit strenuous and it was almost dark by the time I reached the boat ramp, but whenever I needed a rest, I just stopped paddling and enjoyed the gentle wash of the lakes surface, the call of the water birds, the light rain drizzling down and the beauty of the fading light reflected in the water. Then it was back to the house for a shower and a tasty vindaloo from the local Indian Restaurant.


Date: 25/2/13
River:
Pororari River, Punakaiki, Westland, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
Low flow. Water crystal clear, cool and still. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny.
Number on Trip:
2 people.
Time on River:
1.5 Hours.
Comments:
On our final day, while we waited for the dew on our tent to dry off, we decided to have a short paddle downstream to explore the estuary at the end of the river. We paddle out the where the water flowed in to the sea and then explored along the massive cliffs at the far end of the bay and admired enviously, the superbly located houses overlooking the estuary. We then paddled up stream as far as we could go without leaving our boats before returning to the camp ground for a final shower and a pancake, second breakfast in a cafe in Punakaiki before packing up and heading for home. The pancakes were good, but no where near as good as the buttermilk blueberry pancakes that Lauri cooked on the BBQ for breakfast on the previous days.


Date: 23/2/13
River:
Pororari River, Punakaiki, Westland, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
Low flow. Water crystal clear, cool and still. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:
Slightly overcast/misty but sunny.
Number on Trip:
2 people.
Time on River:
3 Hours.
Comments:
When we decided to have a camping holiday in Punakaiki, near the famous Pancake Rocks, we thought it would be nice to take our kayaks along to paddle the Pororari River near the camp site. As we sorted out the required gear for the holiday, the tent, the new BBQ, chairs, table, bedding etc, I noticed we had a lot of gear to pack and only a smallish car. I briefly flirted with the idea of just hiring kayaks at the river but the cost was relatively high and after some discussion we decided against it. Fortunately everything fitted in and the day after our arrival in Punakaiki, found us sorting out gear for our trip up the river, “it isn’t an expedition” said Lauri, as I fluffed about putting in throw ropes, rescue gear, torches etc in to my boat (“Be Prepared”, is my motto too). So a short walk later and we were on the river. Lauri hadn’t paddled since her last canoe polo game at QEII before the earthquake wrecked that facility, but after a short reorientation, was happily racing off upstream.

Lauri on the Pororari River near Punakaiki

Lauri on the Pororari River near Punakaiki

The scenery was superb, great towering cliffs of limestone clad in lush green rain forest, nikau palms and pungas pushed up through the bush, giving an almost tropical look. The water was crystal clear, with a greenish hue and was almost still. Sculptured rocks rutted from the water, making for a very beautiful and photogenic landscape.

More beautiful scenery

More beautiful scenery

We paddled upstream, chatting to the occasional other paddlers we met in their rented Minnows (we were very glad we brought our own), enjoying the scenery and taking lots of photos. Lauri ended up with an excellent collection of some quite stunning photos, while I just had my normal collection of random snaps. As we moved further upstream, the current grew slightly and there were occasional small rapids or riffles which needed to be portaged, or for me to get out of my boat and tow Lauri up them. Eventually we came to a shallow section that would have required a slightly longer walk and as we were both rather hungry, having only muesli bars and oranges, we decided to head back to Punakaiki for a well deserved shower, pie and beer battered chips.


Date: 17/2/13
River:
Boyle River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
45 cumecs at Marble Point on Waiau. 0.608m at Hope Glynn Wye. Water clear, cool and swift. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny.
Number on Trip:
10 people.
Time on River:
1.5 Hours.
Comments:
After some discussion we decided that rather than run some variation on the Hope/Waiau River, which was deemed a little flat and unexciting after the Boyle, we would run the Boyle again. With two paddlers sitting out the second run, the shuttle was relatively easy and we were soon back on the water again. This was a much faster run with no scouting and play was generally restricted to the larger rapids and features. Highlights included Claudia successfully breaking out of a particular eddy that had caused the odd problem on the previous run, and making her way across the face of the bluff to the other side of the river. I took a roll (well the second one worked) after getting pushed against a bluff whilst playing, fortunately no swim on this trip! This time both Tiaan and Stefan jumped from the bluff near the swing bridge while we all looked on.

Time to cool off

Time to cool off

Time to cool off

Time to cool off

Time to cool off

Time to cool off

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone was pleased with the trip and seemed to enjoy themselves. We stopped for a drink and nibbles at the Hurunui Pub and consumed a mountain of potato products before heading back to Christchurch through a grey murk that descended around Culverden.


Date: 17/2/13
River:
Boyle River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
45 cumecs at Marble Point on Waiau. 0.608m at Hope Glynn Wye. Water clear, cool and swift. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions:
Overcast, clearing later in the trip.
Number on Trip:
12 people.
Time on River:
2.5 Hours.
Comments:
After finding breakfast, fuelling up and paying for accommodation we manage to be away from Reefton by 9am. The morning was bright and sunny and the mountain scenery was spectacular, just like something out of Lord of the Rings. I was a little worried that there may not have been enough water to run the Boyle and we might end up doing the less exciting Hope – Waiau run. We pulled into the rest area near the put in, walked across the road, over the barb wire fence, long grass, thistles and swampy patches to the river. There looked to be enough water to get down the river even though some of the early, wide stretches looked like they might be a little bony. Back to the cars and a short drive back the way we had come, to a parking spot with easy access to the river that I hadn’t noticed as I drove past. In to our paddling gear (more thermals required than for the Arnold the previous day, a quick shuttle and we were under way. The first short section was a little bony but as the river narrowed, we had more than enough for an excellent trip, though many spots would have been a little hard on the helmet of anyone tipping over and trying to roll.

The hard rapids and gorges were scouted so that the beginners could find the best lines, swims were rare and many people were keen to try things out and push their boundaries, which was good. The water was crystal clear and you could see the pebbled river bed slide beneath your boat even in the deeper sections. The gorges were superb, with interesting rapids, beautiful water sculpted rock walls and deep, clear water that sparkled when the suns rays made it through the clouds, the Boyle is quite a magical run and it was a real pleasure to be on the river.

 

Playing on various rapids on the Boyle

Playing on various rapids on the Boyle

Playing on various rapids on the Boyle

Playing on various rapids on the Boyle

As we leaving the third and final gorge, I did a quick head count and came up with only 11 paddlers, including myself. I recounted again to check but there were still only 11, then I remember noting some one (it turned out to be Tiaan) pulled up of to the side near the swing bridge, soon a figure dressed in kayaking gear appeared at the top of a tall (about 7-8m high) rock next to the bridge. While I watched, they leapt into the river with a mighty splash and bobbed to the surface, an exciting and cooling way to end a successful trip.


Date: 16/2/13
River: Arnold River, West Coast, NZ
River Conditions: 40 cumecs at Moana, water clear. Grade 2, water clear.
Weather Conditions: Partly cloudy but warm.
Number on Trip: 12
Time on River: 3.5 hours.
Comments: Approximately 10 minutes before leaving the house, I had suddenly become the trip leader. Fortunately due to Graeme’s (who was feeling very unwell) excellent organisation, I didn’t actually have to do much other than ensure we managed to find the river. After the odd break for coffee and supplies, we found ourselves at the Power Station on the Arnold.

We put in below the bridge and while the scenery was good, there probably wasn’t enough water in the section above the power station outflow to make it worthwhile. There were a number of bony rapids and only two of us managed to staying our boats as we hand walked, pushed off rocks and bounced our way down.

There's not much water but I'm not getting out of my boat

There’s not much water but I’m not getting out of my boat

Boulders abounded but there still was scope for play moves too

Boulders abounded but there still was scope for play moves too

Once we reached to power station out flow, the river was more pleasant to paddle and we spend some time here, practicing breaking out, ferry gliding and other skills. From here we made our way down stream, trying to maximise playing and learning experiences.

Playing on one of the smaller rapids

Playing on one of the smaller rapids

Most of the rapids were fairly small but there were plenty of boulders to practice eddy hopping on and towards the end there were some more challenging grade 2 rapids. This is a beautiful river with some great scenery and is a good learning environment for beginners, it is also under threat from being dammed and just below where we take out is the out flow from the Kokiri meat works oxidation ponds (100% pure, yeah right), kind of sad really. I was pretty tired by the end of the run and there wasn’t too much enthusiasm for a second run so the shuttle was run and we all packed up and headed for Reefton.


Date: 9/02/13
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
22.59 cumecs at Mandamus. Water clear, cool and swift. Grade 2 (3).
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm. Light nor-westerly winds .
Number on Trip: 11 people.
Time on River: 4 hours
Comments: With heavy rains in Queensland postponing my return to Queensland I was able to fit in an additional kayaking trip in. This was planned to be and overnight trip, camping up at Jollie Brook but I was a little less than enthusiastic about camping out and especially about putting on wet gear in the more. So after a lot of humming and harring and general procrastination, I decided just to paddle on Saturday and given how sore I felt on Sunday, this was probably the right decision.

Crossing Sisters Stream to get to the put in above the Top Gorge

Crossing Sisters Stream to get to the put in above the Top Gorge

I drove up with Dan to the Sisters Stream walkway car park, got changed and then ran the shuttle down to Seawards. It was a hot day and evening without putting on my gear, the walk in to the river was hot and tiring and I was feeling particularly unfit but the river looked cool and clear and very refreshing when we got there. We put in at the swing bridge above the top gorge. There was a short stretch before we entered the gorge.

Looking back up the Valley towards Harpers Pass

Looking back up the Valley towards Harpers Pass

The Top Gorge

The Top Gorge

The Top Gorge

The Top Gorge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the gorge, we cruised down through Jollie Brook, past South Branch but as we approached Devil’s Fang Falls above the Dozy Stream put in there was a little apprehension and when everyone pulled over to the side and got out above the rapid, I thought they planned just to have a look at it before running it, however we soon noticed that everyone was carrying their boats, a sure sign of a portage. That left just two of us at the top, prepared to run it. At 22 cumecs the rapid would be a little bony but we had both run it at less and were happy to do it. We both made for the eddy above the rapid and I let the other guy run it first (probe), he went down clean, arriving upright at the bottom. Then it was my turn, I avoided the holes above the drop and slid down the tongue, avoiding the “fang” at the bottom, but with a little too much lean and tipped over, rolled up on my second go and then had a play in the boiling mass at the base of the drop.

We carried on down to Seawards without drama and then sorted out vehicles as some of the group weren’t feeling up to running the gully. I took a bit longer getting the shuttle driver for my car sorted out and had to rush to catch up with the others. The Magic Round-About was in good form, though didn’t seem quite the same as usual and some of my moves didn’t quite work, with the result that my kayak ended up being pushed nose first in to the second rock in the middle of the round-about. I soon ended up the wrong way up and after two failed roll attempts found myself pushed up against the bluff. Another fail roll and I bailed, I flushed out clutching my paddle while my boat continued going round the round-about. Politely declining offers of tows, I swam to shore while Bill rescued my boat and clipped it to his tow line. The towed the water filled kayak to the side where I was waiting, unfortunately it snagged on some rocks and he found himself upside-down attached to a taut town line. He released the tow line and disappeared around the corner where he also bailed out and swam. Hardly an impressive spectacle for the newer paddlers and gully virgins as two of the more experienced kayaker swam before even properly entering Maori Gully.

The rest of the trip went smoothly, with little or no dramas, though I certainly played it safe on the remaining rapids (as my left arm was pretty sore after slipping on the rocks while emptying my boat out). We briefly paused to demonstrate the pop up to Dan, who was paddling the gully for the first time, before getting to the take out and completing the wearying trudge, exhausted, up to the cars and then off home while the others headed back to Jollie Brook to camp.


Date: 6/01/13
River: Clarence River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 16 cumecs (NIWA), water cold, slightly discoloured and swift. Grade 2. Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm. Gusty nor-westerly winds .
Number on Trip: 8 people.
Time on River: 3.5 hours
Comments: With heavy rains around the main divide pushing river volumes up earlier in the week (the Rakaia topped 5000 cumecs and the Rangitata topped 2000 cumecs, with most other rivers hitting high, though not quite so impressive volumes), Graeme had a hard time figuring out a suitable river for a beginner friendly trip. It was decide that the section of the Clarence behind Hanmer would have enough water to provide an interesting trip. Unfortunately Graeme fell ill and was unable to run the trip so I took over.

None of us had paddled the run before so weren’t exactly sure what to expect. The drive from Hanmer over Jacks Pass wasn’t too bad, a little steep and winding with a gravel surface but in good condition, and we were soon at the put in near the Jollies Pass turn off. While we ran the shuttle, we had a good look at the river as the road ran along side it the whole way. The run looked good from the road, with plenty of small rapids to keep us entertained. We left the vehicles near the bridge above the Acheron confluence and headed back to the put it.

Starting off down the Clarence River

Starting off down the Clarence River

We were soon under way and were rewarded with a very fun day out. Whilst no overly challenging, there was plenty to keep us busy and to challenge but not threaten the newer paddlers with us. There were numerous small rapids, plenty of boulders to practice eddy hopping on, small holes to play in and some nice gorges too. Items of interest were regularly spaced without long stretches of flat water to paddle in between. The weather was perfect and everyone enjoyed themselves and I was certainly worn out by the end of the trip, having not paddled for a wee while.

Running a man-made weir on the Clarence

Running a man-made weir on the Clarence

Running a man-made weir on the Clarence

Running a man-made weir on the Clarence

Busting some moves on the Clarence

Busting some moves on the Clarence

While the shuttle was being run, we took the opportunity to explore the nearby Acheron Accommodation House, an old cob (mud and straw mixed together) house built in 1863 and maintained by the Historic Places Trust and the Department of Conservation. The house is open to the public and definitely worth a look if you are up this way.

The old Acheron Accommodation House

The old Acheron Accommodation House

2010 Kayaking Season

Date: 5/12/10
River: Hunter River, New South Wales, Australia
River Conditions: 10.4m at Singleton. Brown with lots of debris Grade 1+.
Weather Conditions: Overcast, slight rain.
Number on Trip: 1 person.
Time on River: 0.5 hour.
Comments: On the way home from the supermarket we noticed quite a bit of activity by the river, it was almost at the top of its channel and had spilled on to various low lying sports grounds and fields. It seemed to be an ideal opportunity for a paddle on the mighty Hunter River. I got changed and tossed my gear in the back of the 4×4 and headed down to the get in near the New Bridge but decided the were too many people there, especially as the SES (State Emergency Service) were launching their boats just where I had planned too. I felt there was a high likelihood of being told I couldn’t paddle the river if I put in there, so after some waiting and mild prodding from Lauri, I decided to head up to the railway bridge and try my luck there.

20101205_Hunter_River_03

The SES head up stream as I prepare to launch. The river level is usually about 10m lower at this point. Photo by Lauri.

Not so many people at the car park and I grabbed my gear and headed slightly self consciously down to the river. The current didn’t look particularly strong but the was a lot of debris (logs and even some largish trees) floating down, which was definitely something to avoid. Just as I was getting the deck on, the SES boat went by so I gave them a friendly wave. Once on the river I headed upstream, eddy hopping from one group of partially submerged trees to another until I got as far as I could go. Had a brief chat to the SES guys, they didn’t seem to mind me being there (probably because I seemed competent and had the appropriate safety gear), though there was a comment in the Singleton Argus (local newspaper) that said the following…

“Mr Merrick said he was disappointed to find people in the floodwater. A couple of kayakers were out and another couple were seen in a fishing boat. None had life jackets. “Floodwater is dangerous, there are 44 gallon drums belting down the river, underneath the surface, you don’t know what is in the water, Mr Merrick said. We always carry spare props on our SES boats because floodwaters are strong enough to rip out props and then you are at the mercy of the current, it is not a wise place for people to be playing around”, Mr Merrick said.”

Of course I had a buoyancy aid and helmet on and was perfectly safe on a river that would be comparable to the Waimak during a Brass Monkey race, just with out any “rapids”. However, I was surprised that they weren’t using jet boats but I guess the probably have their reasons.

I paddled back down the the rail way bridge and did a couple of circuits round the bridge supports and then posed for a few photos from Lauri. Not exactly the most exciting paddle but it was nice to be on the river when it had a bit of flow.

20101205_Hunter_River_02

A tree floats by the partially submerged poplars. Photo by Lauri.

20101205_Hunter_River_01

I paddle up stream. Photo by Lauri.


Date: 30/10/10
River:
Barrington River, New South Wales, Australia
River Conditions:
0.7m at Forbesdale Causeway. Clear, easy flow. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and hot.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on River:
1 hour.
Comments:
I decided to see if I could find some white water and so headed up to Gloucester, the closest centre to the Barrington Tops National Park, where I had been told white water kayaking actually happened. The info centre had some useful brochures and I headed out to the Barrington Outdoor Adventure Centre and had a chat to a couple of their guides, who provided plenty of useful information. They also had a copy of “Canoeing, A Guide to New South Wales”, a very useful book with plenty of colour photos of some nice looking rapids being run in an interesting range of long fibre glass and early plastic boats (a time when the Dancer was a state of the art, short play boat). I have since picked up a copy of my own from Paddle NSW, the states kayak association, and look forward to more exploring.

From Barrington, I headed up Barrington East Road and then across the Rocky Crossing flood-way. This marks the get out for the grade 2 section of the Barrington River, the water looked good and the flood-way formed a small wave below it but I carried on up the road that follows the river into the hills. I stopped and had a look at the river at The Cove, where a set of steps led down to a pool above a small grade 2 rapid which looked quite tempting. Further up the road I met a vehicle coming the other way with a couple of kayaks on, having probably paddled the grade 3 section between Cobark Junction and Bindera. I carried on up the road until I reached the gates at Bindera, where the put in for the grade 2 section is and the river can be accessed if permission is asked and a small fee paid. However being on my own and not fancying a long walking shuttle after a solo paddle down an unknown river, I headed back to The Cove.

20101030 Barrington River at The Cove

The rapid below the put in at The Cove.

It was a hot day and it was nice get on the river, I had a bit of a warm up by paddling up the river to a small rapid about 500m upstream. I had a little play around there but wasn’t able to get any further up the river and so I headed back down stream. I ran the rapid pictured above and then spent about half an hour surfing the small holes at the bottom before paddling to a convenient get out about 50m downstream. It was really good to get back on a river and I look forward to running more of this river and exploring some of the others in the area when I get a chance.


Date: 13/9/10
Location:
Penrith White Water Course, New South Wales, Australia
River Conditions:
Swift and very pushy. Grade 3.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and warm.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on Water:
1 hour.
Comments:
I flew in to Sydney on my way to my new job in the Hunter Valley. After discovering that Sydney Airport is to the south of the CBD and the best way to avoid it was to head up to Singleton on the Putty Road (it goes through the township of Putty, hence the name) via Penrith . Of course as I was passing through Penrith, I really had to go and take a look at the white water course that was built for the Sydney Olympics. When I arrived the course was dry but I was told they would soon switch the pumps on for a rafting group. I was able to hire a boat and gear, which was lucky as my boat was heading down from Queensland on a truck at that stage. I ended up with a Bliss-Stick Smoothy play boat, but after a wobbly start and a swim whilst testing its performance on the bottom wave, I swapped it for a Mystic creek boat. I also tried to buy a nose clip to stop my head filling up with water when I tipped over, unfortunately none were available and this tended to really mess up my ability to roll.

20100927 Penrith White Water Course Conveyor Belt

This is the top end of the kayak conveyor belt.

After getting a feel for the boat (quite different from the Blitz but easier to handle than the Smoothy), I headed up the conveyor belt to the top of the run (we should get one of these fitted to the Maori Gully get out) and then headed on down catching the first couple of eddies, then things turned pear shaped and I ended up upside down. Without a nose plug, the quick succession of drops and the very pushy water meant I wasn’t likely to roll so I just bailed out and had a swim. I ended up with a grazed knee and a badly bruised thigh as I exited the boat. Getting the boat to shore was a little tricky as the concrete banks were kind of steep and emptying the water out was tricky given the volume of the boat, steepness of the banks and the fact that the bung was set up so it couldn’t be opened. I managed to do it but even getting the deck back on was tough. I probably provided a bit of amusement to a pair of kayaker practicing with their slalom boats, though they did seem to go over regularly, just they managed to roll back again.

20100927 Penrith White Water Course without water

This is the set of drops I swam down on my last run, though there was more water at the time.

I played it fairly carefully after that with limited success, only managing one clean run and that was basically bombing everything. I was quite surprised how pushy the water was, even trying to stay in one place in some of the eddies was quite difficult. My last run was a bit of a disaster and I was getting pretty tired from swimming and emptying the boat out (a full sized Mystic holds a lot of water). I tipped over on one of the early drops and managed to get the kayak to the side and emptied out. Once I got back in, I couldn’t get the deck on as it required both hands and if I didn’t hold on I got pushed out of the eddy and into the current again. After numerous attempts, I decided to run the next couple of drops without the deck and try getting it back on further down. This worked for a few drops but I was taking on water and soon ended up upside down and then swimming. The next set of drops came thick and fast with no chance of getting the kayak to the bank, I had some good dunkings as I bobbed down the centre of the rapids. Below the last drop in this set, one of the rafts full of punters on a “Boys Weekend” was surfing a hole in the middle of the channel. There was no opportunity to avoid them so I ducked under the raft and on surfacing swam to the bank, still holding on to the kayak and paddle. One of the raft instructors standing on the “beach” in this wider part of the channel and he pulled me in using the my outstretched paddle. Apparently on the course if you swim you are just supposed to abandon your kayak and swim for the shore (I’m not sure that quite works for me as my reflex is to hang on to my gear).

After emptying the boat out and a bit of a rest, I finished off the run and then had a little play around the bottom drop followed by yet another swim (my last). I decided to call it quits for the day as the water was going to be turned off soon and I was feeling particularly tired and beaten up. I did manage to preform a single practice roll before putting the gear away, but the feeling of my sinuses filling with water was pretty unpleasant and I’ll definitely make sure I have a nose clip next time. It was a fun way to spend part of a travel day and I certainly look forward to getting back down to Penrith with my own kayak and gear at some stage in the future.


This was a poem I wrote for a an ABC National Radio programme, just before we made what we thought would be a permanent move to the Hunter Valley in NSW. The photo below is of the Isaac River in flood and was submitted with the poem and was apparently displayed as part of a slide show of Australian rivers on the big screen overlooking Federation Square in Melbourne. The Isaac river is usually one long ribbon of sand, that snakes across the very flat landscape, hence the rivers of sand. The “rapid” pictured is best one I could find within 100km of Moranbah and only appeared after prolonged heavy rain, the waves are less than 30cm high. The poem itself wasn’t selected for broadcast, but it did sum up my feelings about the impending move, I hope it stirs something in you too.

20080926 Issac River in flood

Issac River in flood.

My River

My river is a young river in a young land,
Carving its’ way through mountains,
Still being formed,
Dancing from rock to rock,
Clear and fresh,
Swift and cold.

I traded my land for a new land,
A dry land,
An old land.
I traded my river for a river of gold,
A river of coal,
A river of sand.

The gold flows through my fingers,
But never touches my hands.
The coal flows to the sea,
And off to foreign lands.
The sand flows nowhere.
You can’t paddle a river of sand.

The thirsty land,
The dry river bed,
The long thin water holes,
A kayak in a shed,
All wait,
All wait for the rain.

I will move soon,
A new town,
A new river,
Wide, slow and brown,
But I will still wait for the rain,
For the rain will bring the river to life.

Wherever I go,
Wherever I travel,
In my thoughts,
In my dreams,
I will still carry my river with me.
It is the river that brings me to life.


Date: 21/8/10
River:
Ashley River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:
30 cumecs at Ashley Gorge, water brown, swift and cold. Grade 3.
Weather Conditions:
Cold and overcast.
Number on Trip:
3 people.
Time on River:
3 hours.
Comments:

20100821_Ashley_River_02

Looking back up on of the rapids.

20100821_Ashley_River_10

Catching a shower under a waterfall.

Above: Looking back up on of the rapids and then catching a shower under a waterfall.

20100821_Ashley_River_09

The people who consider that it is never too cold or too early to paddle the Ashley.

We had a good paddle down the lower gorge, going along at our own pace with some occasional play. 30 cumecs is quite a nice flow with water being swift enough and deep enough to keep things moving and the rocks covered but with out the scariness of higher flows but still retaining the technical aspects of the rapids. There was no dramas at all and I was the only one to experience any upside-down time (all quickly followed by a swift roll upright), tipping over after a couple of the major drops. The water was pretty cold so I definitely didn’t want to go for a swim. It was a good day out, followed by coffee at Seagars in Oxford. Thanks to Steel, Bruce and FaceBook for putting this trip together.


Date: 21/7/10 & 12/8/10
Location:
Lake Elphinstone, Queensland, Australia.
Conditions:
Water brown, some wind chop.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and warm, some wind.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on Water:
Approximately 0.75 Hours each outing.
Comments:
A couple of trips to explore the lake and get some exercise. Very scenic and some interesting bird life on the shores.


Date: 3/4/10, 11/4/10, 25/4/10, 1/5/10 & 9/8/10
River:   
Grosvenor Creek, Near Moranbah,  Queensland, Australia .
River Conditions: 
Water clear & flat.
Weather Conditions: 
Sunny & warm.
Number on Trip: 
1 person.
Time on River:
Approximately 1 hour each outing.
Comments:
Back in Moranbah and more paddling on the placid waters of Grosvenor Creek, still it is better than not paddling.


Date: 30/3/10
River:
Cattle Creek, Finch Hatton, Queensland, Australia.
River Conditions:
1.57m at Finch Hatton. Water clear and warm. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions:
Overcast with sunny periods, warm with brief showers.
Number on Trip:
2 people.
Time on River:
2 Hours.
Comments:
After driving about 1200km up from Brisbane, I picked up my boat from Eton, where it had sat out the rainy season while I was back in New Zealand “enjoying” an extended period of unemployment and no pay. Noel was keen for a paddle and so was I and after sorting out my gear it was off to look for some white water. We looked at the Marian Falls section of the Pioneer River but Noel decided the flow was too high, so we headed off to do the Finch Hatton section of Cattle Creek. I was impressed with Noels paddling gear, Sweet helmet, fully featured BA, nice deck, all worn over the top of a pair of baggy, black budgie smugglers and a cotton button up shirt. I felt a little over dressed wearing poly pro and a paddle jacket with river shoes too. Still I did have my nastiest old yellow buoyancy vest and my $10 helmet on, which comprises my Australian paddling gear.

We were soon on the river and played around catching eddies and surfing waves. The water was warm and slow moving, and often very shallow (despite apparently having more water than when it was often run). Still there were some very nice play spots and I had some really good surfs and got plenty of rolling “practice” in as well. The best hole kept me surfing in it for a while as it was a bit difficult to get out of. Eventually after a certain amount of forward, backwards and some sideways surfing, I flipped and got flushed out. Great fun though. Noel had a brief swim for no particular reason (I thought he was just practicing a roll until I realised he wasn’t going to right himself), we go his boat to shore without too much drama but I did miss having a tow line on my BA. We also took a scenic route down a side channel complete with tropical vegetation, which was interesting and very nice but the lack of water meant it was more of a walk than a paddle. It was nice to be on a river again and my only disappointment has been that I haven’t been able to make white water kayaking a regular feature of my time in Queensland. There are some really friendly and helpful people there, and they have made me feel very welcome. Thanks Noel for a great day out.


Date: 7/3/10
River:
Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
16 cumecs at Mandamus. Water clear, cold and swift. Grade 2 (3).
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and warm.
Number on Trip:
5 people.
Time on River:
3.5 Hours.
Comments:
Another trip up to the Hurunui organised by Bob for those not off to Buller Fest. There was a bit of waiting around at the Belfast Tavern for people who said they planned to come and then didn’t. We had a number of newer paddlers and the river was pretty low so we put on at Dozy Stream, below Devil’s Fang Falls. We worked our way slowly down the river, trying to catch as many eddies as possible, with Bob coaching the newer paddlers on correct technique and trying to encourage them to try things. I tried to work on pulling a “whoopie” but didn’t have much success. It is something I haven’t managed to really do since I sold the Super Sport and then it wasn’t deliberate. It was a great day out and everyone had a good time, even if there was the odd swim (not me).

20100307_Hurunui_River_06

Another perfect day on the Hurunui. Breaking out from an eddy to run one of the drops in Maori Gully.


Date: 21/2/10
River:
Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
27 cumecs at Mandamus. Water clear, cold and swift. Grade 2 (3).
Weather Conditions:
Sunny, warm with light nor-westers.
Number on Trip:
6 people.
Time on River:
4.5 Hours.
Comments:
Sometimes if you want to go paddling, you have to organise the trip yourself. By Saturday I had enough people going to make the trip worthwhile (safe) but then a couple of the beginners who had expressed interest dropped out, which technically simplified things (made it safer still). Of course with Steel and Bruce coming, any extras were just a bonus when it came to shuttling vehicles. However when it came to meeting at the car park on Sunday morning, there were more people who hadn’t told me they were coming than those that had. Now with Bob and Murray along as well, we had plenty of experience to share with Hannah, who had done the beginners course the previous season but hadn’t paddled much since. We piled in to Bob and Steel’s cars and headed for the Hurunui. A brief stop at the Maori Gully take out to say hi to some other paddlers, then up to look at Devil’s Fang Falls. Had a brief chat with Hugh and John H, who were taking their respective partners down the river, Hugh in his cataraft and John in tyre tubes. We decided to put in at South Branch and unloaded our gear there and got changed while Bob and Steel drove the cars to the take out.

Thing’s started to go wrong when Bob and Steel got back, having hitched a lift back to the put in, and Murray realised he had left his spray deck in the car. After some discussion he decided he’d probably be ok paddling down to Seawards without it, however when he discovered that he’d also left his buoyancy aid at home, he decide that he’d just walk back to the car. We paddled off, leaving Murray on the bank to try and catch a ride back.

The run down the South Branch to the Hurunui’s main stem, was a nice warm up and an opportunity for Bob and Bruce to pass on some tips to Hannah. We also to the spent a little bit of time surfing, practicing rolls and ferry gliding. Once on the main stem, there was more practice and playing as we made our way down to Dozy Stream. Most of the group decided to walk Devil’s Fang Falls, Bruce had to make sure Hannah was ok and Steel had to get into position to take the photos and did an excellent job (see below).

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Running Devil’s Fang Falls. Steel had to walk this rapid to get into position to take this photo. He would have run it if he was in his RPM.

We had a little bit of a float about while the rest of the group got back in their boats and it was off down to Seawards where we hoped to be reunited with a correctly outfitted Murray. However when we arrived at the put in for Maori Gully, there was no sign of Murray so after a short break we decided to just carry on. Despite earlier reservations and with much encouragement from the rest of us, Hannah decided to run Maori Gully for the first time.

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Bob (left) & Steel (right) play on the Magic Roundabout.

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Hannah had no problems with the Elevator as she ran Maori Gully for the first time.

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Steel drops down the Cheese Grater, which apparently provided John H a few bruises that day, when he ran using only a rubber car tube.

There was no drama, Hannah ran the Gully like a pro and I think I was the only one who even took a roll, after I rushed my exit from Grandstand Eddy and missed my line down Cheese Grater. It was a really good day out and we took our time getting down the river and really enjoyed every little bit of it. It was also good to see so many other people out on the river, either kayaking, rafting, tubing or swimming as it was such a perfect day.

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A spot of cliff jumping and a swim at the Maori Gully get out. Steel said we had to do it. Photo by Steel.

We rounded off the day by repeatedly jumping off the cliff at the get out, though we all forgot to shout “Steel’s the Man” as leapt, apparently it is an important part of the tradition. Murray was waiting at the get out, having run in his wet suit bootees to Dozy Stream and then “shuttled” Hugh’s car to the Maori Gully take out. Hugh was quite surprised to see his car driving towards him as he went to pick it up with Chris & Helen. Caught up with a number of other kayakers at the take out, including some that I hadn’t seen for a while, then back to town before Lauri noticed we were running late.


Date: 11/2/10
River:
Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
15 cumecs at Mandamus. Water clear, cold and swift. Grade 2 (3).
Weather Conditions:
Overcast and a little cool, but still a nice day.
Number on Trip:
3 people.
Time on River:
2.45 Hours.
Comments:
After failing to pull together a trip for last Sunday, the Coast to Coast on Saturday and no prospect of paddling on Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d try for a week day paddle. Only Brian responded to my message so the two of us planned to run the Hurunui on Thursday. I tried to get a few extra people but there wasn’t much interest, fortunately Bob joined us at the last minute so we had a safer number and I had someone to rescue me if I screwed up. We took my car as my roof racks were a slightly better configuration for white water boats than Brian’s, this also meant I’d be riding the shuttle on my mountain bike instead of Brian.

We drove up to the Maori Gully get out, got changed and left the bike and dry clothes in the bushes. After that we had to decide where to put in, just doing Maori Gully seemed a little short and so we decided to put in at Dozy Stream, which still kept the shuttle afterwards fairly short. We had a look at Devil’s Fang Falls before putting in, but at 15 cumecs it was way too boney and would have been a bit messy to run. Still we did have a bit of a play around in the white water just below the rapid as a bit of a warm up before setting off down the river.

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Looking down the Hurunui from the road above the Dozy Stream put in. I ended up swimming near the rocky bluff on the right, note the almost complete lack of rapids there, oops.

Just down from the get in, I messed up catching a small eddy, hit the bluff below it and tipped over. Pushed up against the bluff, I couldn’t get my paddle into position to roll up and ended up taking a swim and looking just a little bit silly. I was soon back in my boat and then took the opportunity to practice a couple of rolls without drama, though I will require some additional practice if I want to hand roll the Blitz.

We took our time making our way down the river to Seawards, surfing where we could and trying to get Brian to practice ferry gliding, catching eddies and to lean his boat whilst doing these things. The Eddy of Doom was particularly cruisy at 15 cumecs and it was really good to be able to surf across the river from one side to the other without difficulty.

Maori Gully was pretty cruisy too, we played on the Magic Roundabout, even Brian tried some daring moves, cutting in behind the rocks until he ended up inverted and took a swim. Simon’s Hole was a shadow of it’s usual self, with the rock that forms it sticking up above the water. I ran down the left side of it but still wasn’t keen to try surfing it. The first couple of rock gardens were fine but we had more drama at The Elevator and Brian ended up standing behind the rock in the middle of the river with his boat, just like Andy on the previous trip. No need to break out the throw ropes this time though, as Bob just told Brian to jump in and swim for it and that seem to work. Not to let the rapid beat him, Brian walked back up with his boat to run it again, but this time he was ready. Similar result on the second run but this time he rolled up and actually caught the eddy behind the rock and then managed to break out and head down stream. All was going well until he ran into a rock near Bob and came out of his boat again.

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Brian successfully negotiates The Elevator, but remember to watch out for the rock at the bottom left of the photo Brian.

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After breaking out of Grandstand Eddy, Bob runs the drop.

On the next drop, both Bob and I caught the Grandstand Eddy with some difficulty due to the low flown and then made the drop without any drama. Brian just ran it straight with no problems either. The last rapid was all good too, both Bob and I surfed the bottom hole and it rocked. I got my boat vertical before flipping it, rolled up no problem, all good.

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Bob surfs the wave on the last major rapid in Maori Gully.

Then off to the get out with the lovely climb up the hill. Filled out the log book, got changed and then mounted my trusty bike for the ride back to the car. The ride was a little harder than expected due to a unexpected uphill section (I didn’t notice it in the car) and some tooth rattling corrugations on the fast down hill sections, still it was some extra exercise and I was soon back at the car. Drove back to the get out, loaded up and headed back to town with only a brief stop in Amberley for milk shakes and ice creams.


Date: 31/1/10
River:
Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
22 cumecs at Mandamus. Water clear, cold and swift. Grade 2 (3).
Weather Conditions:
Overcast and a little cool, but still a nice day.
Number on Trip:
31 people.
Time on River:
3.5 Hours.
Comments:
Arriving at the Belfast Tavern, you could tell this was going to be a big trip, there were cars, boats and people everywhere. Boats were stacked on cars and the people piled in and it was off to the put in at South Branch. I got a ride up with Ross, who I hadn’t seen for quite awhile and it was nice to catch up. There was the obligatory stop at Devil’s Fang Falls, to check lines and instil fear. I liked (if liked is the correct word) the right hand line except for the rock “fang” at the bottom, Murray preferred the far left drop into the seething cauldron of white water line and Bob M thought he’d adopt the more sensible “get out and walk so I don’t bash myself on a rock” line.

20100131_Hurunui_River_02

Kayakers inspecting Devil’s Fang Falls near Dozy Stream.

After some thought it was back in the cars and off to the put in at South Branch, we got changed and sorted ourselves into smaller groups and waited while the shuttle got run. We were soon on the river and trying to keep in our groups, however as different people had different paddling priorities the actual groupings didn’t seem to last long. A lot of people seem to paddle creek boats these days but there were still a reasonable number of people in play boats who were keen to make the most of the rapids, though nothing like it was a few years back. Still we had a good time making our way down to Dozy Stream, with my only memorable incident being bashed along one side by an under cut rock after missing a very tight eddy that formed part of a small rapid in a side channel and going down the rest of the rapid backwards.

Eventually the corner above Devil’s Fang Falls came into view and paddlers started to set up there lines according to their skills, confidence or pure recklessness. A number of paddlers opted for the far left hand channel and then got out and walked past the rapid or waited on the bank to see how the others fared. I followed Bob and Murray down and then duck into an eddy above the main rapid to check out their lines. Murray disappeared down the the left hand side and I watched the nose of his boat shoot in to the air at the bottom. Scratch that line, I thought. Bob stopped in the right hand eddy just above the rapid and then got out, as did a few others, but several paddlers did take the right hand channel without drama so I headed on down. No problems at the top and it was then straight down the chute with a brace off the rooster tail at the bottom and a quick turn in to the eddy, no worries! Once in position at the bottom I was able to take a few photos of the other paddlers on my new waterproof digital camera as they came over the drop.

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This guy was upside down and backwards at the top of the rapids and then bounced all the way down the rapid in one of the most impressive runs of the day.

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A flawless run.

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The not so successful left hand line.

The group reconsolidated as people got back into there boats or just milled about in the big pool at the Dozy Stream get in. The trip down to Seawards was pretty cruisy, catching eddies and playing where possible. At Seawards, a few people got out to shuttle the remaining vehicles and the rest carried on down Maori Gully. We had a bit of a play at the Magic Roundabout.

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Kayo and Barry play on the Magic Roundabout at the start of Maori Gully.

The first couple of rapids didn’t present much trouble but when I approached the first actual drop, The Elevator, something didn’t seem to be right. I moved up to the eddy above the drop to get a better look and to try to find out what was happening. Apparently someone had got stuck in the hole behind a rock in the centre of the river and had come out of his boat. When I got in there, the guy was already standing up behind the rock and Barry and Kayo were throwing lines to him. His boat was towed free first and then he got dragged back to shore. Incidentally it was the same guy who tried to run Devil’s Fang Falls upside down and backwards, some people really like to do things the hard way.

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Kayo and Barry rescue a boat…

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… and then the kayaker from The Elevator. Good work.

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Possibly Ross running The Elevator, featured in the previous photos.

I ran the drop and got in position to take a few more photos as the other kayakers came down the river. There was another spill and the camera was quickly put away as the kayaker and boat parted company. The kayaker was swiftly rescued but we had problems getting the boat to shore and the next drop was rapidly approaching. After warning the other kayakers downstream of the approaching kayakerless boat, I attempted to pop into Grandstand Eddy but left it a little late and dropped down the nasty, narrow chute on the hard left. I managed to catch up with the kayak and a group of us managed to get it to the bank to be reunited with its careless owner.

20100131_Hurunui_River_72

Kayo runs the drop whilst Barry waits in Grandstand Eddy.

I was looking forward to the last major rapid of Maori Gully, as the last couple of times I’ve run it down the left hand side and thus missed out on getting into the eddy on the right that allows you to play on the river wide wave/hole at the bottom of the rapid. Today I got it right, punched through one of the early holes and got myself it to the right hand eddy at the bottom. I broke out and surfed across the river, it was sweet. Once I hit the far bank, I turned back and proceeded to surf the large hole there, it was going great until I got sideways and flipped. I couldn’t seem to get my roll to work and I seemed to be hitting rocks or something. Running out of breath, I pulled the deck, there was another kayaker near by, but as I was near the shore and at the bottom of the rapid, I just swam to the bank clutching my paddle and towing my kayak. As I stood on the bank emptying the water out of my kayak and catching my breath, the other kayaker came over and apologised for making me swim, apparently she came through the hole while I was upside down and her boat got caught up on mine. I’d never have know if she hadn’t told me, I just assumed it was my crappy roll that was to blame. I was pretty happy anyway as it was an awesome surf and well worth the swim.

The Pop Spot was probably too low to really work nicely and I kept hitting the bottom with my kayaks nose, so not quite as much fun as usual. I was the last off the river and up the hill but we managed to get home around 5pm so Lauri was happy and I was happy having had a great day out in my kayak.


Date: 16/1/10
River:
Dam near Water Treatment Reservoir, Moranbah, Queensland, Australia.
River Conditions:
Water clear & flat.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny & warm.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on River:
Approximately 1 hour.
Comments:
I discovered this smallish lake whilst on a mountain bike ride. It is near the Moranbah water supply reservoir (from which it is fed) and it possibly provides a lot of the water in Grosvenor Creek. I’d been told about the dam by some kids a while back but hadn’t spotted it from either Google Earth or from near the road. This dam is quite picturesque, surrounded by tall reeds and overlooked by a bit of a rocky bluff (the wrecked cars that have been pushed off the bluff don’t add to the otherwise lovely scene). I had a nice little paddle about but it isn’t exactly the place to practice rolling, just a little too much algae/scum floating on the surface in a few places. Still it was nice to watch the sun set from the water and then head off to the Mac Camp for dinner.


Date: 11/1/10, 20/1/10, & 22/1/10
River:
Grosvenor Creek, Near Moranbah, Queensland, Australia.
River Conditions:
Water clear & flat.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny & warm.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on River:
Approximately 1 hour each outing.
Comments:
More after work paddling around on Grosvenor Creek trying to imagine gnarly rapids or at least a current. On one trip I did get out of my boat and across the log that normally prevents me paddling further upstream. Not much of note as the river gets shallower before petering out about 500m past the log.

2009 Kayaking Season

Date: 28/12/09
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions: 52 cumecs at Mandamus. Water clear, cold and swift. Grade 2 (3).
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm, with occasional NE winds gusts.
Number on Trip: 7 people (5 doing Maori Gully).
Time on River: 2.5 Hours.
Comment: I’d been looking forward to getting out in my kayak again, especially on some white water, as kayaking in my part of Queensland isn’t exactly thrilling with largely no water. After a bit of confusion at the meeting point over times, boats were loaded on cars and we were soon on our way. Once out of Christchurch, the sky cleared and it was a beautiful day. We put in at Jollie Brook and had a bit of a “refresher” paddle as a number of us hadn’t been doing as much paddling as we’d like. It was nice to see a family group with their collection of old school kayaks and an inflatable, out enjoying the river too.

Off down the river catching eddies and surfing holes, ducked behind one rock and flipped, no swimming this time as my “practice” roll worked perfectly on the second try but this boosted my confidence for the rest of the trip. It was good to be on the river again and the others felt the same way. There were a few nerves as we approached Devil’s Fang Falls (now regard as the hardest rapid on the river), we had looked at it from the road, discussed various lines but it was still a bit daunting once on the river. Graeme decided to walk the rapid, while the rest of us ran it without much drama, just a few rolls at the bottom. Susie was pleased to have run it for the first time despite feeling apprehensive at the top.

Colin and I ducked into the old Eddy of Doom whilst everyone else paddled past on the right hand side, even Chris M (we hassled him about that later). Not much drama getting out again, but at the 50 cumecs it meant coming quite close to the face of the bluff. Hugh and Graeme got out at Seawards and the rest of us continued on through Maori Gully. Had a brief play on the Magic Roundabout, checked in to the Grandstand Eddy and then down the drop, missed the bottom eddy on the last major rapid after taking a line down the left hand side so no surfing (or getting caned) on the hole at the bottom. Down to the Pop Up spot for a little bit of vertical action, then off to the get out and the big climb up the hill.

Stopped off at the Hawarden Tavern for a cider and then back to overcast, grey Christchurch. Another great day out on the Hurunui thanks to Graeme W, who organised the trip, and Colin H, Hugh C, who leaked the details on Facebook.


Date: 3/11/09, 5/11/09, 6/11/09, 7/12/09 & 8/12/09
River:
Grosvenor Creek, Near Moranbah, Queensland, Australia.
River Conditions:
Water clear & flat.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny & warm.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on River:
Approximately 1 hour each outing.
Comments:
This spot is up stream from where I used to paddle and the water is deeper and clearer than the down stream section. There is about 500m of flat water paddle on the bottom section seems to be a popular swimming hole for the local kids. The first day I went down for a paddle, I noticed a few plastic bottles etc floating in the river and decided I should do a little clean up. So about 3 hours later I was off to the Moranbah landfill with 8 full rubbish bags. Two days later, I was back and had another nice paddle and picked up another load of rubbish, a lot of which was fresh. I also noticed a number of small (probably poisonous) snakes swimming around in the river and so decided to take extra, special care retrieving bottles from the grass at the rivers edge (where the snakes tended to be). The next day I repeated the process though there was only a little rubbish this time. The last couple of times I just paddled and ignored the limited amount of rubbish.

20091227 Grosvenor_Creek

One of the more scenic spots in Moranbah, complete with year round water. Let’s all keep it tidy then!


Date: 25/10/09
River:
Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
50 cumecs at Mandamus. Water clear, cold and swift. Grade 2 (3).
Weather Conditions:
Sunny but cool, with NE winds gusts.
Number on Trip:
5 people.
Time on River:
4 Hours.
Comments:
This was my first white water trip in New Zealand in a while, I’d been trying to get a trip arranged for a while now but wasn’t having much luck getting one off the ground. The weekend I was home was a long weekend but I wasn’t able to spare a couple of days for an away trip, so I decided to organise my own trip up to the Hurunui. I put a general call out via Bob Spam but with bad weather looming and a lot of people planning to be out of town, the response was less than stellar. Still with a couple of days to go and an improving weather forecast, we had enough for a good day out.

We met up at the Belfast Tavern and admired the new fences and asphalt of the car park and hope this didn’t mean that they’d changed they policy on non-patrons leaving their cars there. We decided to run the Hurunui from Jollie Brook down to Seawards and then for anyone keen, a run through Maori Gully. It was a beautiful sunny day but I was feeling pretty nervous on the drive up, worried that I’d forgotten how to paddle. At Seawards we changed in to our paddling gear, stacked all 5 boats on the roof of Colin’s’ car and all squeezed in for the drive up to the put in.

Once on the water the initial worries dissipated as I practiced ferry glides, surfing and breaking in and out of eddies. it seemed like I still remembered how to paddle. After a bit of practice around Jollie Brook, we headed down stream, cutting in behind rocks and surfing waves as we made our way down. At the first rapid I caught the eddy above the big rock and then broke out to have a surf, caught the tail and flipped upside down, botched my roll and washed up against the bluff. Not feeling too happy to be underwater and unable to roll, I pulled my deck and swam. The water was cold but I was soon on the opposite bank emptying the water out of my kayak. I guess that’s what happens when haven’t done even a practice roll in a while (I prefer to keep my head above water in most of the places I paddle in Australia). Once I was back in my boat I felt a lot better, the worst had happened and it wasn’t that bad, I felt my confidence return. However as soon as we reached some flat water, it was time to practice a few rolls before they were needed again. It felt great to be on the river again and I was soon back into swing of things, feeling confidant again. Everything started to feel natural again and I revelled in the freedom of the river, visiting all the old, familiar spots. Devil’s Fang Falls was a bit daunting but I watched the others go down and followed their lead. I ran it just left of centre and almost tipped at the bottom but managed to brace and pulled a move that got me into the eddy below the drop with the others and regained some of my paddling cred and a good helping of self confidence. I had a hard time getting out off the Eddy of Doom but eventually made it out by skirting the bluff.

The run through Maori Gully was great, I was feeling pretty good by then and at 50 cumecs the flow just sweeps through, largely washing out the drops or turning them in to waves or holes and flushing you through any of the holes you may fall in. The gully went by pretty quick, then a brief stop at the Pop Up Spot for a little bit of fun, then down to the get out and the long climb up to the car. It was so nice to be back on the river, thanks guys for a great trip.


Date: 13/5/09
River:
Waimakariri River, Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
154 cumecs at SH1 Bridge. Water discoloured, cold and swift. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions:
Cold, grey with a bit of wind.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on River:
0.60 Hour.
Comments:
On break and back in New Zealand and on a river for the first time in a while. This was my first and possibly only Brass Monkey training session. I paddled the Invader up from the Highway Bridge while Lauri supervised from the bank to make sure I didn’t pike! Seal launched from the bank and felt pretty wobbly in the round hulled Invader after the super stable, planar hull Dagger GT. A little play on a minor chute and the to the hard grind of trying to paddle up the swiftly flowing river. Said “hi” to a group of race boaters finishing their practice runs and then chatted a little to Colin R. Completed three “circuits” before calling it quits and getting warm and dry again. Nice to be out on a river with actual flowing water and plenty of it, lets keep it that way.


Date: 30/4/09
Location:
Lake Elphinstone, Queensland, Australia.
Conditions:
Water brown, flat and calm.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and warm.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on Water:
Approximately 1.5 Hours.
Comments:
It was another nice day with not too much to do so I threw the kayak in the back of the ute and head off for a paddle on the Burton Gorge Dam. Unfortunately when I got there, numerous “Keep Out!” signs had sprung up all over the place and there was a chain across the access track. Bugger, someone must have seen me out on the dam before, oh well scratch that plan. The alternatives were either go home or drive further up the road to Lake Elphinstone. Since I was almost there and had my kayak with me, it wasn’t a hard decision. The lake looked much better in reality than it did on Google Earth and I was soon on the water. Quite beautiful, surrounded by low hills and forest, but the only excitement was trying to “play” on the wake of the speed boat that was spoiling the otherwise tranquil setting. This was a pleasant way to spend an otherwise dull afternoon and I watched the sun set behind the hills whilst still on the water. Packed up, coordinated a few drilling related matters from the lake shore then raced back to town to get my time sheet off before 7pm, not a bad days work in the mines.

Burton_Gorge_Dam_from_above

An aerial view from Google Earth of the lake formed by the Burton Gorge Dam. The put in is near the “W” in the middle, that’s where the dam blocks off the Isaac River.


Date: 25/3/09
Location:
Burton Gorge Dam, Isaac River, Queensland, Australia.
River Conditions:
Water brown, flat with minor waves due to strong wind.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and warm, strong wind.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on Water:
1 Hour.
Comments:
The drillers were casing our current hole so the geologist got to go exploring. I’d been up to the Burton Gorge Dam before but the lack of access and the odd, scary “Keep Out” signs, the warnings about blue-green algae plus the lack of access to the water scared me off. But this time I didn’t see any signs and managed to find the access track to the dam. There was no one about and after taking a few photos of the lake and the dam I got changed and wandered down to the lake shore with my kayak. The Burton Gorge Dam was built above the Burton Gorge, where the Isaac River has cut through a set of low hills, and stores the water what would otherwise flow down past Moranbah. The lake was the colour of milky coffee, due to all the suspended fine sediments and looked kind of funny. There was a strong wind blowing across the lake, forming smallish waves and pushing water over the top of the dam, I decided to keep well away from that as I didn’t fancy getting pushed over the dam. It was fun to be out and the wind blown waves added an extra dynamic to the experience. No one told me off for being there so it must have been ok.

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The Burton Gorge Dam stores all the water that would otherwise flow down the Isaac River and get lost in the sea.

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The Burton Gorge Dam. Note the little island and the lovely brown water. Only 60km from Moranbah and a nice spot for a paddle but now difficult to access (thanks guys).


Date: 28/2/09
River:
Isaac River, from railway bridge above Moranbah to Peak Downs Highway Bridge, Queensland, Australia.
River Conditions:
Water brown, sluggish and warm. Grade 1+.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and warm.
Number on Trip:
2 people.
Time on River:
Approximately 1 Hour.
Comments:
The Isaac River was still flowing so James and I headed up to the local “play hole” for some fun. The flow was lower than a couple of days before so paddling upstream was not an option, so we towed the boat up the bank to one of the few rapids on the local stretch of the river. The rapid is pretty shallow and tame but beggars can’t be choosers and it was on the best rapids that I knew of within 100km (actually there is very little flowing water at all within 100km). We had a pretty good time surfing back and forth and taking turns with the boat, James did well and had fun, he would have been keen to get a kayak if there was more water about. Once we were finished, I floated the boat back down to the bridge, floating through the deeper sections and wading through the parts to shallow to paddle.

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The local “play spot” on the Isaac River, best rapid I know of within 100km of Moranbah. Photo by James.


Date: 26/2/09
River:
Isaac River, from railway bridge above Moranbah to Peak Downs Highway Bridge, Queensland, Australia.
River Conditions:
Water brown, sluggish and warm. Flow at Goonyella 0.17m. Grade 1+.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and warm.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on River:
2.75 Hours.
Comments:
Rain had made many of the tracks around Eagle Downs too muddy for the drill crew to get out to the rig so I headed back to town. Mick offered to drop me and my kayak off at the railway bridge above town and James offered to pick me up at the highway bridge at the other end. We turned off the main road on to the muddy railway track, ignoring the “No Trespassing” signs threaten fines of up to $2000 and headed down to the river. There was a little, rocky rapid under the railway bridge, where the road forded the river but with a possible spectator in a mine truck on the bank, I didn’t have much of a play just in case I did something stupid. The river was pretty flat and sluggish but it was nice to just drift along, not having to paddle too hard, very relaxing, just being able to watch the banks slide by and too enjoy the peace and solitude of the location. That was until the driller phoned up to say they were on site and were planned to start drilling once they ran their rods in. This changed the pace of the trip to a hard out grunt of Brass Monkey like proportions (only a lot warmer and the river slower). It was pretty gruelling but there wasn’t much in the way of rapids to distract me from my task but I was glad to see the rapid 500m above the highway bridge that indicated the trip was coming to an end. I had a quick play there and headed for home. James was waiting at the bridge, which was a welcome sight. I got the gear packed away and then it was back to town for a quick change then out to site only to find that they hadn’t started drilling after all, thanks guys! An exhausting day out but nice to have got to paddle this section of the river.


Date: 15/2/09
River:
Cattle Creek, Senninis Road section, Near Finch Hatton, Queensland, Australia.
River Conditions:
Water clear and swift. Grade 2+.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and warm.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on River:
Approximately 1.5 Hours.
Comments:
I was unable to sort out a trip for the Sunday before I flew home so I spent the morning at this lovely spot. This was where Mick was going to take us before he decide to do the O’Connell River, I wouldn’t have known the spot actually existed, let alone managed to stumble upon it, if it wasn’t for his information, a little bit of local knowledge goes a long way. So with nothing else to do before flying back to New Zealand, I headed out to the small township of Finch Hatton. A little way past the township is a sweeping left hand bend and this is where Senninis Road branches off the main road to Eungella. I followed the gravel track up to a place with a clear view of a rather nice rapid and a good place to park the 4×4. The rapid consisted of crystal clear water flowing over smooth granite bedrock.

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The put in for the Cattle Creek run up along Senninis Road near Finch Hatton, Queensland.

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The first rapid for the Cattle Creek run.

I had the river all to myself and ran the rapid multiple times and then spent some time surfing some of the holes. It was a beautiful warm day and it was great to be paddling in just a short sleeved paddle jacket. I still got hot and spent some time swimming around one of the lower eddies and just floating with my buoyancy aid. There was quite a bit of litter around and so I cleaned it up, as my way of saying thank you. Chatted with a few locals who arrived for a swim and a picnic before heading back to Mackay to catch my flight to Brisbane.


Date: 14/2/09
River:
O’Connell River, Near Mackay, Queensland, Australia.
River Conditions:
Water clear and swift. Grade 2+.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and warm. Overcast and light rain later in day.
Number on Trip: 3 people.
Time on River: 3 Hours.
Comments: I’d booked flights home and was all set to head home on Monday with a brief stop over visit with an old school friend in Brisbane. However we had heavy rain and the hitch ended abruptly a couple of days early. Flights over the weekend were full so there was no way I could make it home to spend Valentines Day with Lauri. Still every cloud has a silver lining and I was now trapped in Moranbah, with a kayak on a weekend and it had just rained heavily so the rivers were up. Talk about a lucky coincidence, this was too good to pass up. Mick had been keen to take me paddling but I was generally stuck at work when the opportunities arouse. Arrangements were made, bags packed and kayaking gear was loaded into the truck and I left Moranbah early on Saturday morning to rendezvous with Caleb in Mackay.

I picked Caleb up from Mitre 10 in Mackay and we debated if we needed to get his mountain bike for the shuttle run. We decided we didn’t need it as we had two cars so we should be ok. We then headed out of town to meet Mick at the take out for the O’Connell River. We had original planned to do a run on Cattle Creek but Mick was keen to try the O’Connell River as he didn’t think it had been kayaked before and he had been wanting to run it for a while. No one knew exactly what to expect and I was a little bit nervous as I hadn’t paddled the Dagger GT on any real white water and I was feeling a bit rusty as well.

We met Mick at the flood-way (translation: a low concrete bridge/ford) and drove through the shallow, clear water that covered the road. This was not what I expected, I thought Australian white water would have a browner hue. We put the kayaks on my 4×4, changed into our paddling gear, as Mick finished strapping on his special kayaking armour (this was a slightly worrying sign). Then we all squeezed into the single cab of the Hilux and headed up the track. Halfway through a particularly boggy part I realised I should have changed down a gear and had it in low ratio 4 wheel drive. We didn’t get stuck, by the skin of our teeth, but it did mean we wouldn’t be using Mick’s car to run the shuttle, still that was a problem for later, now was the time to go paddling!

The first drop was probably the most daunting and I was hoping I still remember how to paddle. Mick paddled it first and provided safety at the bottom while I paddle it. No drama, just dropped over the edge, disappear for a short while and then me and the Dagger GT with all its extra volume, popped to the surface, sweet! I then waited with a throw rope for Caleb, 3 for 3, all down and no rolls. The river was beautiful, clear water flowing over large granite boulders as it rolled through a mixture of farm land and forest with no crocodiles. Just like some of the rivers back home, a sentiment I expressed a number of times, earning the nick name Christchurch.

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Mick runs the first drop without any drama. Photos thanks to Mick B.

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Caleb lines up on the drop. Photo thanks to Mick B.

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My turn, line up & off the drop…

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…into the hole…

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…and paddle out. All good.

As we got further down the river, my confidence in myself and my kayak increased and I got to do a bit more playing. The Dagger GT, with its 257L volume, was no where near as playful as my Blitz (with a volume of 185L) but it surf reasonably well, resurfaced quickly and was a good stable platform (no rolls for me). Caleb commented on the fact that my kayak “seemed more stable than his”, round bottomed RPM, because I didn’t tip over at all. Whilst technically true but Mick thought it was quite funny considering that I’ve been paddling a lot longer than Caleb and have a little bit more experience at the not tipping over side of things.

We were cruising along, not worrying too much about what was up ahead, Mick leading the way while I pottered along at the rear, catching eddies and surfing holes, just revelling in being out on such fine white water after such a long paddling drought. About halfway down the route got confused with the river flowing through a number of trees growing out of the usually dry river bed. We took the left “channel”, which seemed clearer, but suddenly Mick was shouting “STOP”, worried about what was ahead, we slammed on our brakes and then things got a bit messy and Caleb ended up upside-down. The roll didn’t work, with the trees and tight confines and he was soon swimming. Without much drama we had him back in his kayak, we vowed to be less blasé about paddling an unknown river.

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Caleb runs one of the later rapids taking care to avoid the trees. Great rapids and scenery, very like the West Coast at home. Photo thanks to Mick B.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful but definitely memorable, the scenery was great (just like being home), plenty more nice rapids and the company was great too. It was really nice to be so warmly welcomed by the local paddlers, hopefully we extend a suitably warm welcome to Mick when he’s over here (NZ) paddling.

Eventually we were back down at the flood-way where we had left Mick’s car. We got into our dry clothes and then attended to the shuttle. Since we couldn’t take Mick’s car up the 4×4 track and we didn’t bring the mountain bike, there was only one thing to do. So Caleb and I walked the approximately 9km back to where I’d left the vehicle. Since the track was under water in places, I wore my paddle shoes and my feet were pretty tired after we made it to the car. Then it was just a matter of driving back to Mick, picking up our boats and gear and heading back to Mackay. I was pretty exhausted by the time I checked into a motel but I had a really great day, paddled some very nice water and got to meet some good people. Thanks to Mick and Caleb for showing me some Mackay/Airly Beach hospitality.


Date: 11/2/09, 13/2/09
River:
Grosvenor Creek, Near Moranbah, Queensland, Australia.
River Conditions:
Water brown and swift. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions:
Raining/overcast.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on River:
Approximately 1 hour each outing.
Comments:
Heavy rain had brought the creek up and a little rapid had formed below the running track.

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Not the best photo but it is one of the few of me (behind the tree) kayaking the mighty Grosvenor Creek “Rapid”. The walkway marker post in the fore ground was washed over a couple of days later when the river got even higher.

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Grosvenor Creek “Rapid”, a “park & play” spot near the Red Bucket, Moranbah.

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Looking along the popular running track that crosses the river.


Date: 10/2/09
River:
Grosvenor Creek, Isaac River confluence, Queensland, Australia.
River Conditions:
Water brown, warm and flowing very slowly. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:
Hot, generally overcast.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on River:
Approximately 1 hour.
Comments:
This was an attempt to see how far up Grosvenor Creek I could paddle, probably only about 500m before it became too shallow. There is a lot of wood in the creek and I spent some time jumping a log that sat just below the surface of the water.

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Grosvenor Creek (left) joins the Isaac River near the Peak Downs Highway Bridge. The photo was taken a couple of days later when the river level had risen to conceal the barbed wire fence in the fore ground (when I was there I was able to paddle under it as almost no water was flowing down either river).


Date: 5/1/09, 8/1/09, 17/1/09, 4/2/09
River:
Grosvenor Creek, Near Moranbah, Queensland, Australia.
River Conditions:
Water brown, warm and not flowing at all. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:
Hot!
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on River:
Approximately 1 hour each outing.
Comments:
This is the closest water to town and offers about 500m of flat water paddling. There is water in the creek all year round however by Christmas it had got quite stagnant and I was keen to paddle in it. However just before the start of my January hitch, heavy rain topped up the creek and flushed it out so that it started flowing again. It was nice to be out on a river and to be able to practice with the new boat. On my first outing I let a couple of local kids, who were swimming in the creek (yuck!), try out the GT and they seemed to enjoy themselves.

2008 Kayaking Season

Date: 14/12/08
River: Therese Creek Dam, Near Clermont, Queensland, Australia.
River Conditions: Water clear, warm and not flowing at all. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions: Hot and sunny.
Number on Trip: 1 person.
Time on River: 1.5 hour.
Comments: Rain prevented access to our work site again so I grabbed the kayak and headed to explore the Clermont area in search of water. There was some water flowing in both Nine Mile and Cherwell Creeks thanks to the rains that closed our site but not much so I kept on going. I eventually arrived in Clermont and checked out the “Lagoon”, it looked a bit like the duck pond in Hagley Park, so kept going on to Therese Creek Dam, which I’d spotted on Google Earth. The dam formed a reasonably sized lake and I had a fun time paddling about on it. There was a number of power boats towing skiers but these where easy to avoid. I did notice after getting off the water that you weren’t supposed to boat/swim within 200m of the intake (pictured below).

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Therese Creek Dam. No crocs or flowing water here but still a nice place for a paddle.


Date: 9/12/08
River:
Possibly Back Creek, Nebo Shire, Queensland, Australia.
River Conditions:
Water brown, warm and not flowing at all. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:
Hot, sunny with occasional cloudy spells.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on River:
1 hour.
Comments:
This was my first paddle in my new Dagger GT. I’d been looking for a suitable place to paddle and decided to head to Nebo and see what I could find. That turned out to be nothing and so I turned off and headed for Sarina. I didn’t get far down the road before coming across this swimming hole. It was probably about100m long with enough width and depth for a bit of a paddle, plus the odd log sticking out of the water for “slalom” practice. Not exactly the Hurunui (or even the Avon for that matter) but it was still fun to be on the water and to put my new boat through its paces. I wasn’t keen to practice a roll even though water was warmer than some of Christchurch’s heated swimming pools, the dirty brown water and the thoughts of what it might be hiding put me off. I’ll probably return to this spot again after the rains as it has some rocks at the head of the pool which may form some kind of feature with a reasonable flow, might even be an interesting “park & play” spot!

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My Dagger GT at a swimming hole on an unknown river near Nebo, Queensland. No crocs but no flowing water either, might check out again when it rains.


Date: 13/7/08
River:
Ashley River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:
44 cumecs at Ashley Gorge, water brown, swift and cold. Grade 3.
Weather Conditions:
Cold but sunny.
Number on Trip:
9 people.
Time on River:
3 hours.
Comments:
This was possibly last kayaking trip. I got back from Australia late Friday night / early Saturday morning and had planned to do the Brass Monkey race on Sunday morning as it was the only one that coincided with me being in Christchurch. I checked the river flows and realised that with a flow of 530 cumecs in the Waimakariri, the race was unlikely to be held (but the flow would make for a fast time for those brave enough to run it). However I did notice that the Ashley was also up and there was likely to be a number of people keen to run it. With this in mind I strapped the Blitz on to the roof rack along side the Invader and set off to the Brass Monkey put in, only to be told the race was off (surprise, surprise). After a quick look at the swollen Waimak, it was a quick drive down to the Belfast Tavern to meet up with screaming John’s team for a trip down the Ashley Gorge.

It was cold at the put in and the river was brown and swollen, we help Hugh assemble his cataraft and tried to keep warm while waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. Finally they arrived, crammed into the back of John’s rental van with most of our kayaks and we got on to the water, sliding down the bank into the river. I was feeling particularly nervous and my stomach was in knots, I guess as a result of the brown, swirling water and not having paddled for a while (recent swims probably didn’t help either. The early grade 2 rapids went by without a hitch especially as I deliberately chose easy lines, avoiding anything that looked “scary”. However on one of the first grade 3 rapids, I failed to spot a hole until it was too late, dropped into it, stopped and then flipped. I set up for a roll, waiting until the water went clear and the bubbles disappeared, then slammed my side hard into a rock, winding me, I aborted the roll and pulled the deck. Holding on to all my gear I swam towards to side with the aid of Hugh’s cataraft and Ian M’s kayak. Funnily enough this dunking was just what I needed to boost my confidence (the stuff that was worrying me wasn’t that bad after all) and I felt much better after that. I was also glad that I had decided to wear my wet suit as the water was pretty cold.

John having seen me get trashed (after I’d advised him to follow me as I planned to take the easy route) decided to portage the rapid but only needed to carry his boat for about 1m after bumping down the side of the rapid, earning the new nickname of “Chicken Chute” John. Although he did the right thing in walking a rapid he was happy with, Steel teased him unmercifully about it.

The rapid down to Forever Eddy was fun but you had to be on your toes as the holes were often hard to spot in the brown water. I accidentally dropped into the odd one but had enough boat speed to push on through. Once in the gorge proper the rapids came thick and fast but everyone got through without a problem, just the odd roll with the occasional helmet striking a submerged rock. I got a bit indecisive when it came to the last major rapid and instead of taking the far right channel, I swept into a large rock and dropped down the middle chute and tipped. The was a horrible graunching noise as something struck my helmet hard, I rolled up and made it to the side before checking for damage. There was no blood and my helmet was ok but I definitely knew I’d got hit.

The rest of the paddle out was pretty cruisy and I just had the odd play on some of the small features as I was feeling a bit sore from being knocked about. It was good to get into warm clothes and to stand in the sun before it disappeared behind the hills. I checked my head in a mirror and found I had a good bruise above my right eye, which form a distinct black eye later that evening.


Date: 11/5/08
River:
Upper Grey River, West Coast, NZ
River Conditions:
Low flow, 92 cumecs at Dobson, water clear and cold. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions:
Cool but sunny with the odd cloud.
Number on Trip:
21 people.
Time on River:
4.5 hours.
Comments:
This was a run down the Gentle Annie section of the Upper Grey. It was the second day of our easy West Coast trip and it was a trip I had been keen to do and I was not disappointed. The shuttle run is quite long and so a lot of effort went in to ensuring that boats, gear, cars and people well organised into their correct locations so as to reduce the amounts of running about required.

The river was absolutely beautiful, flowing clear and cool through some magnificent scenery. Mountains, native forests, river flats, the West Coast certainly knows how to put on a display.

The rapids were not too demanding, generally boulders gardens with plenty scope for playing and eddy hopping. Everything was just stunning, this is one of the reasons I enjoying kayaking so much, even just floating along watching the world drift by made you feel glad to be alive.

I had a great time catching eddies and picking my way through the various boulder gardens, picking up advice on lines to take and moves to make from both Pat and Kerry. Our little group ended up at the back of the bunch, with me lagging towards the rear. I was having too much fun and if you are further forward, others will often unintentionally block an eddy or put you off a move just by being there. Whilst I was fooling around at the tail of one boulder garden, I got stuck sideways against a rock, the flat bottom of my Blitz against the flat side of the rock. I tried to get free by wobbling about but that didn’t help. I decided to get out of my boat and get off the rock that way. When I was halfway out of the cockpit, the boat slid off the rock and tipped over. Unfortunately with my deck popped and being almost out of the boat already, I couldn’t roll so was in for a swim. I called to Pat before he disappeared from sight and he towed me to shore, feeling just a little bit silly (and wet).

The last section was fairly flat and so was a bit tiring and my blistered hands were glad to see the take out. This was a really lovely trip and definitely worth the long shuttle.


Date: 10/5/08
River:
Taipo River, West Coast, NZ
River Conditions:
Low flow, water cold and clear. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions:
Cold but sunny with the odd cloud.
Number on Trip:
16 people.
Time on River:
1.5 hours.
Comments:
This was the Saturday part of our “easy” (not grade 4) West Coast trip. We left the Yaldhurst Tavern while it was still dark and the group met up at the Taipo River take out where it crosses the highway before flowing into the Taramakau River. We were also joined by some local paddlers plus a group that travelled down from Nelson to take part in the trip, making it quite a large group of paddlers, especially with so many people I didn’t know. Driving over the 4 wheel drive track to the put in was exciting and we kept our fingers crossed that the roof rack would stand up to the vigorous shaking that it received.

After some fluffing about sorting out gear, we clambered down the steep bank and were soon on the water. This is a superb location, crystal clear waters flowing through a valley surrounded by mountains and steep hills clad in native bush.

The water was swift and clear and rather cold. The rapids were all relatively straight forward grade 2. I chose to try and take the harder lines and almost had a nasty surprise when I dropped into an eddy above one of the first rapids in the gorge. I had taken the right hand line as it looked exciting, with plenty of white water, while most of the others chose the left side. I found myself sitting in a eddy just above a large hole. Turned out not to be a problem but I was glad to have run it properly rather than blindly dropping into the guts of it as I nearly did.

This was a fairly quick trip but I tried to do as much playing and catching eddies as possible, though this was often difficult with such a large group. The best play spot was just below the highway bridge and we spent some time there before getting changed.

We planned to run the lower section of the Crooked River next but it was decided to try Moonlight Creek instead. Not sure if anyone in the group had actually run it but it was decided it was worth a crack. After a long drive we made it to the take out, the lack of water didn’t look promising but we carried on to the put in before deciding there was too little water and not enough daylight for the run. So after a short bush walk to have a look at the river and some old mining ruins, it was off again to Ikamatua. Moonlight Creek looked quite lovely but definitely needed more water and is probably worth a visit at some other time.

The evening at the Ikamatua Pub was certainly an eye opener. The local rugby team had won for the first time in a while and so were celebrating a lot! This mainly involved drinking copious quantities of alcohol and culminated in several players running naked through the bar with flaming newspapers clenched between their buttocks in a tradition know as a flaming ass-hole. Not something you see everyday!


Date: 4/5/08
River:
Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:
23 cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+(3), water clear and very cold, lots of drifting clumps of didymo visible.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny with overcast period and freezing cold with light southerly winds.
Number on Trip:
7 people.
Time on River:
5 hours.
Comments:
This was the annual Hawarden Gap trip down the Hurunui and my first kayaking trip in a while. It had also got a lot colder than the previous trip back in March and I hadn’t made the appropriate adjustments to my kayaking wardrobe. I didn’t dress as warmly as I should have and didn’t even think of bringing my poggees. The flow was low and I was keen to play and after a couple of rolls, I was quite damp as my dry jacket was letting water seep through to my inner layers. As the trip progressed, I got colder and colder and my interest in further play evaporated unlike the water in my jacket.

When we stopped for lunch I warmed up a little. I should have put on my extra clothing but for some reason I didn’t, a silly mistake! By the time we arrived at the Hawarden Gap, I was frozen. Graeme had a swim on an earlier rapid as was probably pretty cold too, so he and a few others decided to portage the rapid. I put on my spare cloths and felt better with the extra poly pro on. Ian M ran the rapid first without a problem. When it came to my turn, I ferry glided across the river to an eddy above the rapids and promptly flipped on the eddy line. Water flooded up my nose, filling my sinuses with freezing cold water. When I’d got back under way I’d forgotten to put my nose clip on. I rolled up but the damage to my confidence was done and I was feeling a bit funny from the excess water in my head. With my nose clip firmly in place, I broke of the eddy and headed down the rapid. Taking the right hand line, I got down the first drop, spun upstream and flipped, no roll attempt this time and I bailed out in the flat water at base of the rapid, doh! Thanks for the photos capturing the moment Graeme.

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Tipping over doing the Hawarden Gap. Photo kindly provided by Graeme.

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Then bailing out after not even trying to roll! What is that about? I blame the cold. Photo kindly provided by Graeme.

I swam to shore clutching my paddle and towing my boat as I have frequently done before on this rapid (I think I’ve only run it successfully twice before and one of those times was alone in the Topo Duo). I was now soaked but still quite a bit warmer with the extra clothing. The rest of the rapids presented no problems but the paddle out was pretty gruelling with the low flow. Eventually we made the take out and it was a real relief to get into some warm dry cloths. I also got to drive the shuttle up to the top and then head straight home from there, thus missing on the usually hour long wait at the get out while the sun sets and the temperature drops to freezing. Not the most enjoyable trip of the season but it would have been greatly improved if I had dressed correctly and had brought my poggees.


Date: 24/3/08
Location: Lake Wanaka, Central Otago
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm.
Number on Trip: 2.
Time on Water: 1.5 hours.
Comments: The lake was crystal clear and the day perfect so Lauri and I paddled out to Ruby Island from the Wanaka Township. It was a beautiful day and the scenery was superb, it made for the perfect way to unwind after Warbirds over Wanaka. There were plenty of others out on the lake and we even got to see the Catalina do a touch and go on the lakes surface. Paddling out to the lake was easy, even in the Fly but paddling back was harder as there seemed to be more swell. The speed boats kept there distance so we just got the odd wake to contend with. It was a nice paddle even if it was just flat water, lunch was well earned that day.


Date: 9/3/08
River: Buller River, Tasman District
River Conditions: 44 cumecs at Longford. Grade 2+, water clear.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm, nor-westerly winds.
Number on Trip: 11.
Time on River: 2.5 hours.
Comments: We were disappointed not to be able to do the Hamilton Rapids on the Wairau after the way was blocked by a locked gate due to a goose shoot. So we did the 3km run from Lake Rotoiti to State Highway 63 bridge on the Buller instead. A very scenic run with almost continuous bouldery rapids, plenty of eddies to catch and holes and waves to play on plus the odd eel. Per had close encounter with a log under bridge at take out which we’d been warned about but he didn’t notice until it was too late. Exhausting after a very energetic trip, I took only roll near end after massive surf session near end of the run, it really rocked and I was absolutely stuffed by the end, so were a few of the others judging by the number having naps on the way home (including our driver, well after he shifted to the back seat).


Date: 8/3/08
River: Waihopai River, Marlborough
River Conditions: 7 cumecs at Craiglochart No1 bridge. Grade 2+, water clear.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm, nor-westerly winds.
Number on Trip: 11.
Time on River: 2.5 hours.
Comments: 7km bed rock gorge from power station to picnic area, finished just before dark, nice cruisy run but probably better with more time and water, very tired by finish, lots of flat water in the last section, bashed elbow on rock in one rapid.


Date: 8/3/08
River: Clarence River, Kaikoura
River Conditions: 6 cumecs at Jollies (at top of river). Grade 2+, water discoloured.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm, nor-westerly winds.
Number on Trip: 11.
Time on River: 3 hours.
Comments: Last section of the Clarence from Glen Alton Bridge to State Highway 1 bridge, rapids pick up in the later stage with some excellent big wave trains.


Date: 24/2/08
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 21 cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+(3), water clear.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm, gale force nor-westerly winds.
Number on Trip: 11 people doing from Dozy Stream down and 7 just running Maori Gully. Time on River: 3.5 hours.
Comments: We had quite a large group for this trip and it was decided to split into two groups, with one doing multiple gully runs and the other group was keen to go further up and get a longer run in before doing the gully. Those in my car were keen to do a warm up before doing Maori Gully and I wanted to run Devil’s Fang Falls again, so we joined the latter group. Starting at South Branch was mention but in the end it was decided that we would start at Dozy Stream. Nearly everyone was on the water by the time we got back from shuttling the cars. Even Dennis wasn’t keen to run Devil’s Fang Falls (too many rocks exposed), so disappointed I got in below the falls with everyone else. After paddling around feeling a bit bummed out, I decided to run the falls anyway and got out and started walking up the bank. The wind was gale force and it was a real struggle to carry the kayak with out being blown over, so in the end I had to drag it. By the time I had reached the falls, everyone had disappeared from view, off down the river so I decided I just run the staircase on the side rather than the hard drop where there was a possibility of getting stuck. Running the drop was quite exhilarating and I paddled on down the river feeling better.

I caught up with the group at the next rapid just as they were leaving so I had a bit more of a play before carrying on to catch up at the next rapid. This seemed to be a bit of a theme for the trip, with no one keeping an eye on any stragglers. As I was at the rear I kept a watch on anyone other than me that was getting left behind, this included waiting for a good 5 minutes or more after the rest of the group disappeared leaving one guy adjusting his boat on the bank. Admittedly after he was back on the water, he left me behind on the next rapid. The other theme was the gale force winds, these whipped the spray off waves, sending it hurtling down the river like hail stones. It made the trip a lot less fun as paddling upstream meant battling against the wind as well as the current.

When we got to Seawards we had a bit of a break while one of the vehicles was shuttled and lunch was retrieved and then it was back on the water. Not one of the better trips through Maori Gully as the wind interfered with a certain amount of play and made some of the eddy hopping pretty difficult. Some of the highlights were jumping over the middle of Simon’s hole (at low flows this doesn’t seem to cause much in the way of problems) and catching Grandstand eddy and watching everyone go past from its entrance above the drop. I also tried to catch the right hand eddy below the Elevator (or if Grandstand eddy is on the Elevator, then the other main drop), tried to boof in from above, realised that this would actually work at the lip and dropped straight into the hole. I flipped but quickly rolled up, to be flipped again as I was side surfing the hole upside-down. My paddle caught the green water current and this dragged me out of the hole so I could roll properly, which was pretty cool, it was the first time in a while that I had got stuck in a decent hole. We also had a good play at the pop up spot and tried some stern turns at another eddy line somewhere so it was a pretty good day out despite the wind.

When we got out and headed back to the cars, we found half the other group waiting in the shade having only done one run down the gully, after which a few people just headed back to town, so I was glad we got a bit of extra paddling in. We stopped off at the Nor-Wester for drinks and bumped in to Erik from Film Soc, who had just returned from a tramping club trip to Mt Cass. Apparently the Nor-Wester is a popular watering hole for a number of different groups.


Date: 9/2/08
River: Waimakariri River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 34 cumecs at State Highway One Bridge. Grade 2, water clear.
Weather Conditions: Overcast with sunny periods, warm with light nor-easterly winds.
Number on Trip: 2 safety kayakers plus over 800 competitors.
Time on River: 13 hours.
Comments: This year I got to take part in the Coast to Coast, together with Lisa F, we helped keep the competitors safe from a nasty willow sieve close to the finish. I spent around 13 hours on the river and didn’t get off until it was almost dark and everyone had packed up, still I had plenty of food and I didn’t have to sit in my kayak the whole time so it was quite a nice day out. No one had any problems at our spot but we did see the evidence of upstream carnage in the form of ample duct tape on some boats. Only two paddlers decided to shoot the gap between the top two sets of willows, fortunately both successfully as failure could have easily been lethal. Most of the top paddlers ignore the upstream instructions but safely avoided the willows, while the the rest of the field took the safer but slightly slower route we marked out. We spotted Chris P and Kerry H paddle past, but neither Kerry nor myself spotted our Outward Bound instructor, Roger, who was racing as part of a mixed team. I parked my car in the wrong place and someone had to break in using a wire to move it. When I parked it at 6am there was nothing there so I parked it well off the road near a fence around a paddock, hopefully well out of the way. However they removed the fence and the paddock became a car park for support people so my car was in just the wrong place, oops. Was pretty exhausted by the end of the whole thing, getting up at 4:30am will do that, on the river by 7:30am, in position and set up by 9am and the first competitor went by at almost 12:30pm so I could have had a sleep in after all.


Date: 17/1/08
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 26 cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+(3), water clear.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm, strong nor-westerly winds.
Number on Trip: 10 people (3 on a cataraft) with 9 running Maori Gully.
Time on River: 4 hours.
Comments: Hugh organised a trip down the Hurunui for a Radio New Zealand reporter covering the Hurunui Water Conservation Order application and we tagged along to provide safety and background interest. Pat provided some good coaching and plenty of tips as I followed him down the river catching as many eddies as possible in Maori Gully. I also got help out with a few rescues (my first in a while), included Per after watching him tip over as I waited with Pat in Grandstand Eddy. Pat saw him go over and asked if Per could roll, I replied “yes but…” and took off in pursuit to help him and his boat over to the river bank. Plenty of playing so we managed to loose Hugh and the raft by the half way mark and by the time we got of the river, the cataraft had be disassembled and carried up to the cars, much to our relief.


Date: 13/1/08
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 24 cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+(3), water clear.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm, some nor-westerly wind gusts.
Number on Trip: 9 people with 8 running Maori Gully.
Time on River: 4 hours.
Comments: Per got a few people together for a Sunday Hurunui trip as there was not club trip set until well into the new year. It was a beautiful day on the Hurunui and things were pretty busy at the put in, with at least two other groups of paddlers plus some family groups enjoying the river on a hot summer day. On the way up to Jollie Brook we stopped off at the new rapid (now called Devil’s Fang Falls) above the Dozy Stream put in and discussed the best strategy for running it. At 20 cumecs, the left hand channel looked pretty boily and the right hand channel looked very rocky with a rooster tail forming on the fang at the bottom. The staircase on the far left hand channel looked good, if there was enough water to get to it.

Back at the put in, I went round and talked to the other groups of paddlers to make sure they were aware of the new rapid. The two guys with the Dancers hadn’t paddled the Hurunui in twenty years and were very pleased to hear about the changes before they got to discover them by surprise.

Ran the shuttle and drove my car back up to Jollie Brook then got on the river. Nice run down the river with plenty to do. We met the guys in the Dancers later on and they were pleased that they had know about and were able to walk around Devil’s Fang Falls and they thanked us for saving there lives! Not much playing on the Magic Roundabout as it was full of river bugs! Jumped Simon’s Hole in a show of bravado and then eddy hopped my way down Maori Gully.

2005 Kayaking Season

Date: 10/12/05
River: Waimakariri River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 43 Cumecs at State Highway 1 bridge. Grade 2, clear.
Weather Conditions: Sunny to overcast to heavy rain.
Number on Trip: Only 2 (154 race competitors though).
Time on River: 4 hours.
Comments: Safety boating for the Arawa Waimak Classic race, Andrew and I put in at Woodstock at 11am (after getting up at 5am) and paddled down to the willows down stream from the big rock. The river hits the right bank here and the current runs through the willow trees making a hazard for anyone who gets in the wrong place. Everything went well, with Andrew directing people away from the trees, so all we had to do is watch the competitors paddle by. Some good results with Ian Huntsman beating Ben Fouhy to claim the fastest overall time, Gary Wake from the WWCC also posted a good result too. There were plenty of swimmers in the rock garden and in the gorge but fortunately none down our end. Once the last competitor passed us, a jet boat appeared and lets us know we were finished (possibly incorrectly as there may have still been a couple of tail end Charles still to go), so we paddled out to Gorge Bridge just in time for the rain. A nice paddle down an easy stretch of the river.


Date: 3-4/12/05
River: Tekapo River and Slalom Course, Tekapo, NZ
River Conditions: 18 Cumecs released from dam. Grade 2 to 3+, clear.
Weather Conditions: Cool, overcast, showers clearing on Saturday to hot with gusty nor-westers on Sunday.
Number on Trip: Approximately 60 with about 18 WWCC members.
Time on River: 6 hour releases both days.
Comments: This year we had a good turn out from the WWCC at Tekapo and a good weekend was had by all. Saturday was spent practicing on the slalom course, playing on the holes or running the drops at the bottom of the course, whilst others ran the river from the dam down to the slalom course. The river run is a nice cruisy grade 2 trip of about 2-3km, with the rapids getting harder (though still relatively easy) as one goes along, great for beginners. After we got back from running the river, we headed back up to the dam for the down river race. This year I just planned to paddle my Fly gently and not try to keep up with the slalom boats. Things were going well down the river and I managed to get a lead on the other plastic boats, as Glen literally fought it out with some other kayakers, with plenty of pushing, shoving and ramming of other competitors boats. Unfortunately, just like last year, I ran straight into the guts of the big hole at gate four (my nemesis) and tipped upside down and after three (described by Kieron as pathetic) roll attempts I bailed out and completed the course swimming with my boat and paddle. This valiant attempt earned a 2nd place and a chocolate bar. Phil Abraham managed to beat Alan Hoffman this year and also headed off Ian Gill-Fox, who was paddling a much faster down river racer, when he took a bad channel and got caught in the shallows.

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Steve surfs the play hole at Tekapo.

Sunday was spent with the serious (for some people) slalom racing, most of the paddlers present having a go, some more successfully than others. WWCC paddlers Chris and Kate Morley, Glen Clark, Mike Owen, Ian Gill-Fox, Kieron Thorpe, Tony Ward-Holmes and Phil Abraham all won prizes for placing in their various categories. The strong winds made navigating the gates without incurring a penalty, quite hard. My runs were pretty abysmal, I tipped coming out of gate 3 and then floated through the big hole before swimming down the rest of the course on my practice run. My first scored run I skipped a number of the upstream gates and concentrated on just running the course the right way up. On my second run, I managed to get past the gate 4 hole again but tipped whilst trying to get gate 5 and swam down the rest of the course, avoiding a throw rope from Chris that would wave pendulumed me against a rock. I got back into my boat in the large pool and ran the rest of the gates with my boat half full of water. Not highly successful at all!

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Mike successfully navigates the hole at gate 4.

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The hole at Gate 4 upset a number of paddlers, but Kieron has no problems on this run.

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Glen boofs into the eddy to run upstream gate 9.

I had a good weekend though my paddling skills took a bit of a beating and my roll didn’t come up to scratch a lot of the time. I did however get to run three of the four drops at the bottom of the course without much drama. Getting caught in a rapidly spinning eddy on the right hand side of the third drop and having to break out across some scary looking white water didn’t make me feel like running the (possibly) harder and the definitely more rocky drop on the run out. However a number of other braver kayakers ran it, some even the right way up!

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Want to know where Osama bin Slalom has been hiding?

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There he is, emerging from the hole at gate 4 at Tekapo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the highlights for me was my last run down the slalom course after all the gates had been packed up. I attempted to avoid the gate 4 hole again by cruising down the left hand side. This was going well until I caught a tiny eddy beside the hole and soon found myself facing up stream in a micro eddy right next to the churning mass of white water that was my nemesis, the gate 4 hole. I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do, so I broke out and was surfing the hole in no time at all. Carving back and forth across the wave front was great and then with a deft flick of my paddle I spun around to back surf the hole. This was going great too. I then tried to dig my way out but was soon drawn back in to the hole, the tail eventually buried in the green face and the inevitable tail stand with the upside down landing follow by a swim (by the end of the weekend I was too exhausted to roll). Still this was a real high and as I self rescued myself and gear for the last time that weekend, I had a big smile on my face.

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Kate paddling the slalom course.

However after this weekend I am going to have to work on my roll as I seemed to be having a bit of difficulty getting it to work when it counted, hence the veritable school of fish below. Mind you, I had only done about four rolls this season before this weekend as I have generally been successful in keeping my hair dry on most trips so far. Still it will be back to the pool and into the surf for more practice.


Date: 12/11/05
River: Maruia River, Lewis Pass, NZ
River Conditions: Low flow. Grade 2/3, clear.
Weather Conditions: Cool, overcast, intermittent rain.
Number on Trip: 20
Time on River: 5 hours from Warwick River to Ruffe Creek
Comments: This was quite a long trip following the Maruia River as it swings away from the road and behind Mt. Rutland. The river flows through some beautiful native bush and well away from civilisation making for a really pleasant scenic trip. The rapids are mainly grade two with some grade three ones that can easily be portaged. The river starts off relatively easily, mainly flat with just small grade two rapids and some of these were quite shallow. Plenty of small waves to surf and rocks to eddy out behind. Further down the rapids become harder, often requiring some manoeuvring to avoid rocks and holes. Most people had no problems running all the rapids and there was just the odd swimmer, who was promptly rescued. Georgie probably had the worst swim, bouncing down one of the harder rapids with Steel providing verbal support down the rapid and a prompt rescue at bottom. Georgie also managed to bang her face whilst rolling , leading to domestic violence comments. Annabel took a swim as she eddied out after successfully running a tough rapid and as everyone was looking upstream, no one noticed her fall out (actually I noticed and managed to tow her to shore). This highlights the need to watch people right through the rapid until they are safely eddied up and not just while they are doing the “hard” bits. Things eased off towards the end and we were quite glad when the get out finally appeared after spending around five hours in your kayaks. This was a really great trip and I’d be happy to repeat it again.

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One of the harder rapids on the Maruia River. Photo courtesy of Chee Chang.

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Another of the harder rapids on the Maruia River. Photo courtesy of Chee Chang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Date: 11/11/05
River: Hope / Waiau Rivers, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: Hope 16 Cumecs at Glynn Wye, Waiau 36 Cumecs at Marble Point. Grade 2, clear.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm with strong NW wind gusts.
Number on Trip: 12
Time on River: 1 hours, 45 minutes from the Waiau confluence to below Handyside Creek.
Comments: This was a very quick trip down from slightly above the Waiau confluence on the Hope River to the take out just below Handyside Creek. The rivers were running pretty low and we were running short on time so decided against running the section from the Hope Bridge down which looked pretty boney. Getting down to the river proved to be a bit of a mission as someone headed off up a 4WD track that led upstream to the river on the opposite side of the valley (probably over 500m) instead of walking less 100m downstream to the river. Not really appreciated when carrying the 34kg Topo Duo! The river was pretty low until we reached the confluence of the Hope and Waiau Rivers and then the additional water kept things moving, though you still had to watch out for shallows near rapids.    The low flow meant that a lot of the wave trains and rapids were smaller than the last time we paddled this run and Lauri didn’t feel it was as exciting as the Lesley Hills section, though she still enjoyed the trip. A good trip with just the odd swimmer, great for building the confidence of newer paddlers. We were all glad to reach the take out as everyone was pretty tired and it was starting to get cooler as the sun dipped behind the hills.


Date: 11/11/05
River: Boyle River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: Estimated at 10 Cumecs. Grade 2+, clear.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm with strong NW wind gusts.
Number on Trip: 25
Time on River: 2 hours, 30 minutes from above Engineers Camp to Windy Point.
Comments: This was a really good trip down the Boyle with plenty of playing so took a bit longer than the expected one and a half hours. The water was lovely and clear and there was plenty of stuff to play on.

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Me in my Prijon Fly.

The gorges were “gorgeous” and the rock garden rapids provided plenty of rocks to eddy out behind and waves to surf thus taking a long time to navigate. We had the odd swimmer but these were soon rescued and back in there boats and no one had any real problems. This is a really lovely run and when worth the trip.

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Colin the rapid just above the swing bridge in the final gorge. Photos courtesy of Chee Chang.

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Murray on the rapid just above the swing bridge in the final gorge. Photos courtesy of Chee Chang.


Date: 6/11/05
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 21 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+(3), clear.
Weather Conditions: Cool, overcast, intermittent rain showers.
Number on Trip: 16
Time on River: 1 hour from Dozy Stream to Seawards, 2 hours 30 minutes through Maori Gully.
Comments: Designed as a rescue skills practice day, we split into two groups and did a leisurely run from Dozy Stream down to Seaward. No drama for our group and we encouraged a couple of beginners to take advantage of the low flow and try a few new things, such as going into the big eddy with the bluff that always scares me. We regrouped at Seawards, with some people not carrying on through Maori Gully. Duncan and Natalie decided to make their first descent of the gully spurred on by the low flow and the number of potential rescuers on hand, neither had any problems (just the odd roll) and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I also took advantage of the low flow and had a play in the Magic Roundabout near the start of Maori Gully, visiting the eddy on the right hand side for the first time ever. I also got to surf other features further down and had heaps of fun and really enjoyed myself. Once in Maori Gully we did some rescue scenarios and some throw bag practice. This showed up some important things to remember, such as choosing a good stable position that allows you to hold on to the rope when it is under strain and making sure you can actually throw the rope to the person in need of rescue. The elevator was quite interesting at this flow as there was no tongue the run down and it was a matter of leaning forward and paddling hard to get out of the hole at the bottom. This was a particularly fun and educational trip.


Date: 30/10/05
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 25 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+(3), clear.
Weather Conditions: Cool, overcast, intermittent rain showers.
Number on Trip: 21
Time on River: 4 hours, 15 minutes from Jollie Brook to Seawards and through Maori Gully.
Comments: Graeme’s beginners trip was well attended with plenty of eager new paddlers, plus a few more experienced paddlers. We split in to two groups with me leading the first group with John acting as tail end Charlie to make sure no one got lost. We left while everyone else was sorting out the shuttle and began working our way down to Seawards. Most of the rapids we just ran straight with me showing the easiest route but as confidence increased, a number of people had a go at ferry gliding across the rapids, tried surfing and practised their rolls (often in that order). We only had one swimmer but he was soon back in his boat and keen for more. I know from personal experience that wearing a wet suit and the proper gear keeps you nice a warm, even after repeated dunkings. No decided to get out at South Branch and so we continued on down to Dozy Stream.

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John about to break the blade of his paddle at Dozy Stream. Photo from PhotoChick

Suzy and John decided to run the more difficult right channel whilst I lead the rest of the group down the left channel. I had a nervous moment when Suzy appeared without John and it was some time before he came down the other channel with another group of kayakers who were also running the river (in Dancers and other retro boats, snigger). We were met here by Lorraine, who told us that the other group left almost one hour after us, as the shuttle took some time. Lorraine also took a number of photos which are available at PhotoChick.

Paddling the Fly on the Hurunui.

A nice shot of me paddling the Fly on the Hurunui by PhotoChick.

Everyone was keen to carry on down to Seawards so we kept paddling, pausing only to tape up Johns’ wooden paddle which had broken on a rock at Dozy Stream. We eventually arrived at the get out, where we were rewarded with raspberry buns from Graeme. Suzy and I remained in our boats so that we could paddle Maori Gully with Bruce and Steel (Steve).

Fortunately we didn’t have to wait long, as they arrived about ten minutes later with their group. They had a few more people who were too hot and decided to have a refreshing dip in the warm waters of the Hurunui, but they still managed to almost catch up with us. After a brief stop four of us headed off for a quick paddle down the gully. With the lower water level the flow was less pushy but there were more holes and the drops were more noticeable. No problems, though Steel briefly ended up in a hole after a slight miscalculation but managed escape to be almost run down by me as I avoided the same hole. I got my hair wet after I rolled whilst trying a couple of things near the get out, but no one saw that so it doesn’t count. Climbed back up the hill and into some dry clothes before heading back to town. It was a long trip and we didn’t get back until after 7pm. Still it was a good day out and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and hopefully learned something.


Date: 23/10/05
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 27 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+, clear and swift.
Weather Conditions: Cool, some cloud clearing to a nice sunny day.
Number on Trip: 4
Time on River: 1 hours, 30 minutes from Salmon Farms to Jollie Brook).
Comments: This was my second ever run down the Top Gorge, the first being a couple of years ago when I was quite as confident and the river was running at 62 cumecs. This time it was a more sedate trip and we had plenty of time to play. Bob and Colin provided plenty of coaching for Georgie, who managed to handle everything the gorge had to offer. The gorge begin just after the Sisters Stream enters the Hurunui and is a narrow rock gorge with a number of small drops to navigate and has been used for slalom competitions in the past. It offers a reasonable challenging run for beginners and is sort of like a mini Maori Gully. Definitely worth a paddle. All too soon Jollie Brook arrived and to my surprise everyone else got out and that was the end of the trip. I was still keen to do more but everyone else wanted to get back to town, so I spent the rest of the afternoon photographing the river.

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Looking down from the road at the tricky eddy and drop above the Dozy Stream put in.

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Close up of the tricky eddy above the Dozy Stream put in.

 

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Maori Gully from the road above.

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A couple of kayakers in Maori Gully as seem from the road above.

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Looking back up Maori Gully, the closest rapid is the last major one in the Gully.


Date: 22/10/05
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 31 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+, clear and swift.
Weather Conditions: Cool, overcast with some drizzle.
Number on Trip: 20
Time on River: 2 hours in the morning, 1 hours, 30 minutes from Jollie Brook to South Branch.
Comments: Spent the morning providing support for the beginners at Jollie Brook and only needed to rescue a single paddle. In the afternoon we split into groups and paddled down to the South Branch. The group I was with handled all the rapids well, with most of the people happily playing on the rapids and doing practise rolls in places I have been avoiding until recently, it was quite impressive. It was a nice trip and lots of fun was had by all.


Date: 2/10/05
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 45 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+ (3), clear and swift.
Weather Conditions: Cool, overcast with some drizzle.
Number on Trip: 16
Time on River: 3 hours, 30 minutes.
Comments: Another run down from South Branch to Seawards with a Gully run for the keen. Some of the new beginners spent the night by the Hurunui and joined the trip with their minders, forming two groups of eight and meaning the more advanced paddlers could spend some time playing without holding up the beginners. Everyone had a great day out without too many problems, just the odd swim. The river was pretty pushy but there was plenty to surf and play on. Discovered that there is a nice tongue down the left hand side of the elevator, so no more getting bowled over by the hole on the right that I been previously running! As most people were still dry (relatively) by the end of the gully, Steel suggested a cliff jump in to the river so those keen enough could cool off! Apparently the water was quite cold but Sven the visiting Australian was happy to do it and he was wearing shorts!


Date: 25/9/05
River: Rangitata River, South Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 54 cumecs at Klondyke, water cold, clear and swift. Grade 2+
Weather Conditions: Cool with intermittent drizzle.
Number on Trip: 5 on grade 2 section, 4 on the grade 4 section.
Time on River: 2 hours, 5 minutes.
Comments: Five keen paddlers turned up at the MacDonald? in Hornby for a nice cruisy run from Klondyke down the Outdoor Pursuit Centre. Once we had our group together, we headed up to the Rangitata Rafts base and sorted out the shuttle and the get out points then settled back in the warmth whilst Mike dropped off the other half of our group above the gorge. Once he got back, we drove down to the put in and sorted our gear out. The river was relatively low so there were plenty of rocks to dodge or bounce off, but the rapids were all quite good, being more narrowly confined with the lower flow. Most of the rapids in the grade 2 section of the Rangitata from Klondyke down to Peel Forest consist of shingle chutes, often dotted with rocks near the top, with nice wave trains at the bottom. There are also a couple of play holes on some of the larger rapids that can be quite fun but with the colder weather we didn’t do much playing this trip. Lauri and I were paddling the Topo Duo and had a great time bouncing over rocks and down the wave trains without any problems. Graeme performed an excellent looking rock splat and took a little swim but was ably rescued by the rest of the team. No real problems and everyone enjoyed themselves. The rapid at the get out had a nice wave train and that made a nice ending to a fun outing. The guys who paddled the gorge arrived with the vehicles shortly after we had got off the river, then got changed and it was off to a bar in Ashburton for food and drinks.


Date: 18/9/05
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 33 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+ (3), clear and swift.
Weather Conditions: Cold, windy with driving rain, but better than the next day when it snowed in Christchurch.
Number on Trip: 10
Comments: This was my first WWCC trip of the season and I was really eager to get back on some white water and make sure I hadn’t forgotten how to kayak. We put in just below the bridge across the South Branch after a freezing wait on the river bank whilst the vehicles were shuttled. However this was way better than doing it afterwards. Thanks go out to our kind shuttle driver who ensured the was no needed for additional shuttling after the trip. We had a reasonably speedy trip with it being too cold to spend much time playing, poogees and a hot head were essential.

The party broke in to two groups above Dozy Stream, with Hugh leading an express run down to Seawards for those who were getting a bit cold. I took a roll after breaking out of the eddy behind the rock above the Dozy Stream put in. I did what Steel did, got washed up on the pillow by the bluff and tipped and then rolled up, just like Steel! It was good to know that my roll still worked as the water was too cold for swimming (no one took the opportunity to cool off with a refreshing dip for some reason). Once down to Seawards, most of us continued on for a quick trip down Maori Gully with very few stops on the way. There were some good sized waves and the Elevator seemed to extend across the river with a wall of white water at the bottom. When I reached the top of it, I couldn’t see a good way through so just decided to lean forward and power on through….. this didn’t actually work and I ended up doing a tail stand and flipping over backwards. I flushed out and rolled up without any drama, but man the water was cold! Apparently there was a narrow tongue on the hard left, I’ll have to watch out for that next time. Took another roll after shooting over a rock near the get out, apparently this is quite common as there is a reasonably strong upstream kick, another thing to remember next time. Arrived at the get out feeling quite exhilarated and reasonably warm despite three rolls, my Rasdex semi dry jacket kept the water out and my Macpac fuzzy rubber top and hat kept the warmth in. An excellent trip and a great start to the season.


Date: 11/9/05
Location: Lake Tekapo, Mackenzie Country, NZ
Water Conditions: Water cold and clear.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm.
Number on Trip: 2
Comments: Lauri and I paddled out from Mt. Hay Station (after asking the local farmer for permission to cross his land) to a couple of islands in the middle of Lake Tekapo (pictured below). The islands were about 2.5km from shore and the largest one, called Motuariki Island, is covered in trees and is about 500m in diameter. The lakes’ water was crystal clear and very cold, it was also over 120 metres deep in places. Paddling out to and around the big island took almost an hour and then we spent some time wandering around and exploring the interior. Lots of interesting rocks and groves of trees and the views were spectacular, well worth a visit. It was a perfect day and we both really enjoyed ourselves, it was a shame to paddle back in and drive back to grey old, fog bound Christchurch.

20050910 Tekapo_Visit_19


Date: 17/7/05
River: Waimakariri River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 70 cumecs at Old Highway Bridge. Water swift and cloudy.
Weather Conditions: Overcast, cold with some drizzle, SE winds.
Number on Trip: 1
Comments: Another training run up from the bridge to the rapids, three times again. Had a bit of a surf on the rapids, with the higher flow the tree stumps were further below the surface so don’t cause an obstruction. However one still needs to be careful that your paddle doesn’t get caught in them and you certainly wouldn’t want to roll there as there is a definite danger of getting snagged. Still it is quite fun though not exactly challenging. Raced back to the car with a cold wind whipping rain into my face, was nice to get home for a cup of tea.


Date: 6/7/05
River: Waimakariri River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 65 cumecs at Old Highway Bridge. Water swift and cloudy.
Weather Conditions: Overcast, cold with some drizzle, NE winds.
Number on Trip: 2
Comments: Lauri and I took the Topo Duo down the Brass Monkey course to see if we could scope out any short cuts. No luck at spotting any promising leads, but we did have a fun paddle. Was pretty cool to paddle past the big diggers scooping up gravel out of the river. Was also quite neat to have a “wilderness” trip just 15 minutes from town, as the upper part of the trip was pretty free from human intrusions.


Date: 3/7/05
River: Waimakariri River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 53 cumecs at Old Highway Bridge. Water clear but slightly cloudy.
Weather Conditions: Overcast but warm, NW winds.
Number on Trip: 1
Comments: This was another Brass Monkey training run. Again put in at the South Branch confluence just above the State Highway one bridge and paddled upstream to the first set of “rapids” three times before racing Lauri back to the car (she won again). Lauri provided plenty of encouragement, in the form of small chocolate fish skewered on the end of a stick. Felt pretty good afterward so must be getting fitter.


Date: 19/6/05
River: Waimakariri River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 58 cumecs at Old Highway Bridge. Water clear but slightly cloudy.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm, an almost perfect winters day.
Number on Trip: 1
Comments: This was the week before the first race and Lauri had me paddle up to the rapids, three times in a row. I didn’t think I could do the last one but felt pretty good afterwards. Lauri also took some good photos as well as providing encouragement from the bank.

20050619 Waimak_Richard

Training on the Waimak, heading upstream. Photos by Lauri.

20050619 Waimak_Rapids

Training on the Waimak, playing on the “rapid”. Photos by Lauri.


Date: 12/6/05
River: Waimakariri River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 58 cumecs at Old Highway Bridge. Water clear but slightly cloudy.
Weather Conditions: Overcast and cold.
Number on Trip: 1
Comments: This was my second Brass Monkey training run. Again put in at the South Branch confluence just above the State Highway one bridge and paddled upstream for a play on the first set of “rapids”. Attempted to get as far upstream as possible before heading back downstream. Lauri provided plenty of encouragement, in the form of small chocolate fish skewered on the end of a stick. Felt better after this paddle than last time.


Date: 5/6/05
River: Waimakariri River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 60 cumecs at Old Highway Bridge. Water clear but slightly cloudy.
Weather Conditions: Overcast and cold.
Number on Trip: 1
Comments: My first Brass Monkey training run. Put in at the South Branch confluence just above the State Highway one bridge and paddled upstream to the first set of “rapids” (about 1km above the bridge). Played on the small waves formed by the underwater tree stumps before heading downstream, arrived back at the car feeling exhausted. Lauri rewarded me with a chocolate fish on the way home.


Date: 29/5/05
River: Waiau River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 50 Cumecs at Marble Point. Grade 2, brown and swift.
Weather Conditions: Cool, drizzle clearing to be a nice sunny day.
Number on Trip: 2 (plus about 32 competitors and 10 other safety boaters)
Comments: This was the inaugural Mighty Waiau River Race and seemed to be a great success, with plenty of thrills and spills (see photos below, taken at the Forks/Screamer Rapid ). The race started with a Le Mans style start with all the competitors running for their boats at the same time. Steve Gurney was the fastest and managed to complete the race in a time of 56 minutes and 49 seconds, 10 seconds in front of Dick Brunton. Steve apparently took his race boat down through Sharks Tooth, which gave him a bit of a lead over the less daring competition. All the competitors finished the race in under an hour and a half, so it was a pretty quick race. We had to get up early and meet at the Belfast Tavern at 6am, to be on the river by 8:30am as the race started at 9am. Once on the river, most of the safety boaters had to paddle pretty hard to be in position before the competitors went by. Matt and I were looking after the fence line rapid, a place where the river has eroded a paddock about 1km above Marble Point. There is some fence in the river and another fence about 50cm above the river but both hazards are easily avoided. We directed boats over to the right hand side of the rapid and no one seemed to have any problems, with most boats avoiding the worst of the rapids. After the tail end Charlie’s went by, Matt and I paddled out to the finish line instead of getting out at Marble Point, to make the most of the last paddle of the season. An interesting footnote is that although the race was run at about 50 cumecs, the river rose to around 180 cumecs in the afternoon as a result of rain in the headwaters, so it was lucky that the race finished early.

20050529 Waiau_River_Race_2005_40

Punching through the hole. Photo by PhotoChick.

20050529 Waiau_River_Race_2005_23

Good, strong brace. Photo by PhotoChick.

20050529 Waiau_River_Race_2005_12

Avoid or push through the hole? Photo by PhotoChick.

20050529 Waiau_River_Race_2005_04

Avoid, punch through, brace? What to do? Oops… Photo by PhotoChick.


Date: 22/5/05
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 26 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+ (3), clear and swift.
Weather Conditions: Cool, no wind and slightly overcast (but way better than in town).
Number on Trip: 13
Comments: This was my last WWCC kayaking trip of the season last weekend so no more trips until next spring (not entirely true as I’m safety boating a race this weekend and I plan to enter the Brass Monkey races again this year). Paddled from South Branch down through Maori Gully, with some people getting out at Seawards. Paddled in two groups (we left while the others were driving the shuttle) and also net up with Glen and some friends at Seawards, where they were just starting their second trip down the Gully for the day. The flow was good on the Hurunui and I was feeling pretty good, had a bit of a surf on a few waves and also went in a couple of eddies I normally avoid with out any problems (on the last two trips I only got my hair wet once and definitely kept my feet dry). One rapid (just above Dozy Stream put in) involves catching a small eddy behind a large rock (I normally assist any beginners down the left-hand channel) and then running a 1m drop through a gap of about 2m between the rock and a large bluff and looks pretty scary. The other one is an eddy on the outside of a corner where the river runs into a bluff, beginners (myself included) normally get swept into the bluff, capsize, bail out then get swept into the eddy to go round and round until fished out and put back into their boat to repeat the process again. This is the spot on the river where I have had the most swims and I usually avoid it by running the rapid down the right hand side, but the last couple of times I just dropped into the eddy and then ferry glided out and across the face of the bluff with out too much problems. The grade three section in Maori Gully was also quite fun but I’m still not brave enough to try anything tricky in there. Took a roll on one of the later major drops, the lower flow exposed a few more rocks and these were a little off putting as I went over the lip. A couple of paddlers took there first or second trips through Maori Gully and there were a few swims as well as some good rolls, but no problems and plenty of smiles. A really enjoyable trip.


Date: 15/5/05
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 25 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+ (3), clear and swift.
Weather Conditions: Fine and sunny, westerly winds (weather was really grey in town).
Number on Trip: 11
Comments: A nice late season trip down the Hurunui from the South Branch down through Maori Gully, the weather was good but the river was still pretty cold. Everything went well and I got to run a couple of the hard eddies that I normally avoid which was really great and boosted my confidence no end. 25 cumecs is a really nice flow and makes for a really cruisy trip, ferry gliding is no problems and surfing is pretty easy to do without being swept off and the drops in Maori Gully are well defined but not too pushy. There were a couple of nasty swims / rolls at the big eddy down from Dozy Stream but no real problems and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.


Date: 1/5/05
River: Boyle, Hope and Waiau Rivers, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: Boyle 15 cumecs, Hope 23 cumecs and Waiau 50 cumecs . Grade 2, clear.
Weather Conditions: NW winds, some strong gusts. Fine but cool.
Number on Trip: 11
Comments: This was a great trip and really worth doing, it is great to do something new and paddle sections previously only seen in part from the road. The following report is from Hugh Canard (thanks, hope you don’t mind me using it)… 11 members turned up, some old, some new. A good bunch of hardy souls. 3 cars to the Boyle put in about 15 cumecs clear and cold. Weather clear and sunny with a N wind building. Good forecast. Paddled to Windy Point get out by about 12.30pm. Graham swam a few times and others (Suzy and Jason) rolled, much to their delight.

We put in on the Hope at the State Highway 7 bridge about 1-45pm with considerably more water from the Hope. I don’t believe the gauge is accurate (reads way low) and the river had gone from gauge 20 to 100 and back again overnight. We could smell the hot springs for about 2-4 km but ground searches failed to find the springs themselves. There was amazing bird song in the gorges. Graham took a few more swims but I had anticipated this and Richard and I had placed his car about 6 km into the trip at the Waiau confluence, so he got off at this point. Richard took great care of him all day on the water. By now the Waiau added more water and the flow was about 40 + cumecs. The river gets better as you progress and we agreed it was harder than the Hanmer to Leslie Hills section with far more obstacles, although the river is wide enough for one to cruise on grade 1-2 or choose some tasty play spots. There are a few bluff corners and some 1m wave trains. Good surfing in warmer weather. The trip is 20 km to a good get out at Halliwai Stream just where the State Highway 7 starts to climb away from the valley.

We were away about 5:15pm to the Hurunui pub, which has some really excellent game pies; venison, rabbit, etc. I think this Hope to Waiau section would be a good step up from Hanmer to Leslie Hills and pretty safe even in a bit of a flow. Although there are longer stretches of grade 1 the flow is relentless and there are big boulders in the flow to play about on and practice catching eddies. There is some nasty steel river protection right at the end. You could shorten the trip by putting in just below the Waiau confluence. The shuttles are real quick. I think a good paddler would find enough to fool around on and beginner/intermediates would have a great day. There is a really good rock splat spot too. A good beginners Grade 2 weekend would be to do the Leslie Hills section on the Saturday – stay at Hanmer – and do this on the Sunday. The early start possible on the Sunday would provide more daylight safety margin. If anyone is looking for Torana parts I can tell them where there is a good source. You’ll need a boat.


Date: 2/4/05
River: Rai River, Marlborough, NZ
River Conditions: 5 Cumecs. Grade 2, clear.
Weather Conditions: Fine but cool, plenty of stars.
Number on Trip: 1
Comments: It was around 5pm on our last night at Pelorus Bridge and I still hadn’t paddled the Rai properly this trip. Finally after some prolonged humming and ha-ing, I got my gear on and grabbed my boat and trotted across the bridge to paddled down to the confluence of the Rai and Pelorus and then up the Rai, portaging the rapids, all the way up to the chicken run. By the time I reached the top of the Chicken Run it was 6pm and getting dark, so there was nothing to it but head down and tail up for some Brass Monkey training. No problems on the Rai Falls but rolled on the second of the two chutes where the water runs into the rocks, it was now pretty dark. By the time I reached the Pelorus the stars were out, so a quick paddle up to the bridge and then out for a hot shower and dinner. Great fun, but a little scary on my own and in the dark.


Date: 31/3/05
River: Pelorus River, Marlborough, NZ
River Conditions: 13 Cumecs. Grade 2, clear and swift.
Weather Conditions: Fine and warm to overcast and some drizzle later.
Number on Trip: 3
Comments: This was a run down the Pelorus River from the Tinline River down to Pelorus Bridge with Phil (surfing in the photo below), an Outward Bound instructor and his partner (whose name escapes me at the moment, sorry), who I had met earlier in the day. It was a nice fine day when we started, putting in at the Tinline bridge and bouncing down until we met the Pelorus River. The scenery was superb and the water crystal clear. The rapids were reasonably easy and Outward Bound often use this run for students, so it is a very good run for beginners. Played on a number of rapids and took a roll on one particular boily section. The upper section was a bit shallow in places, generally in the wider stretches. No problems with trees or other obstructions. Enjoyed paddling it, thanks guys for a great trip.

20050331 Pelorus_River_Phil_playing_a_hole

All good. Thumbs up to surfing.


Date: 31/2/05
River: Pelorus & Rai Rivers, Marlborough, NZ
River Conditions: 13 Cumecs (Pelorus) / 6.5 Cumecs (Rai). Grade 2, clear and swift.
Weather Conditions: Fine and warm.
Number on Trip: 2
Comments: Lauri and I had a relaxing paddle around on the Pelorus and Rai Rivers. We brought the canoe polo ball along and had some fun passing it between us. I get a bit sulky after taking a lob that I didn’t see (my helmet visor obscured it), full in the face. I had a brief play on the hole above the bridge until I tipped over and got a bit of a thrashing against the bluff before rolling up again. As we were packing up the gear, a van with a couple of kayaks pulled up. I had a chat to them to see if they were interested in doing a run down the Pelorus River and they were…….


Date: 29/3/05
River: Pelorus & Rai Rivers, Marlborough, NZ
River Conditions: 20 Cumecs (Pelorus) / 6 Cumecs (Rai). Grade 2, clear and swift.
Weather Conditions: Overcast with a slight drizzle.
Number on Trip: 1
Comments: I put in at the top of the Pelorus Bridge camp site and had a bit of a paddle down the river, playing on anything that caught my eye. This is a really beautiful river and quite fun to paddle, nothing really difficult, mainly just holes where the river flows over rocks. There is a quite boily eddy just above the bridge and is fun to play on but it has a relatively shallow rock at the top which I find a little unnerving. Paddled a short way up the Rai and then home for tea after picking up the car.


Date: 13/3/05
River: Waiau River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 62 Cumecs at Marble Point. Grade 2, discoloured and swift.
Weather Conditions: Fine and warm with light NE winds.
Number on Trip: 21
Comments: Wow, a Waiau trip that wasn’t cancelled or diverted, despite flows of almost 400 cumecs on Friday. Fortunately the flow dropped as quickly as it rose and we had a lovely sunny day to boot. The river level was good with lots of spots to have a play on. We put in at the Hanmer River confluence and paddled down to Marble Point for lunch. A number of the group shuttled all the vehicles from here (ah the joy of not having to do a shuttle after a trip), whilst the remainder paddled down to the Lesley Hills Bridge. Erosion of the left hand bank about 1km above Marble Point has left a wire fence hanging over the river and another wire fence trailing into the river, we had no problems here but there is definitely a hazard for the unprepared or any swimmers. I managed to keep my hair dry for most of the trip, but ended up briefly upside-down in one particularly boily bit whilst watching to see weather Stephen H managed to get the club’s 240 pinned in a very tight set of rocks whist attempting an “alternative” line on one of the lower rapids, somewhere below Shark’s Tooth. Shark’s Tooth was pretty tame with about half the river volume now avoiding this rapid altogether. We had a really enjoyable trip, the river and scenery was excellent, I really like paddling the Waiau and should probably do it more often as it is nice and cruisy and really good for beginners.

20050213 Waiau_River_playing_on_rapid_

Making moves while those waiting their turn watch on.


Date: 27/2/05
River: Waimakariri River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 42 Cumecs at State Highway One Bridge. Grade 2, clear.
Weather Conditions: Cloud clearing, warm with light NW winds.
Number on Trip: 2
Comments: This was the last kayak stage of the Mt. Cook to Christchurch race. The river was pretty low compared with the Brass Monkey Races, we put in at the top of MacLeans Island and paddled down. We ended up directing kayakers away from a spot where the current flowed into some willows that may have been a problem if some one swam. Towards the end of the race we made a dash down to the Pylons to help with extracting a boat. from the willows. As it turns out, we must have been doing a great job where we were as shortly after we left there was the first swim at our previous location resulting in a boat stuck in the trees. The get in for the Brass Monkey Races is now completely different with the main channel of the river flowing directly in to the bank forming a bit of a bluff with the out flow running through the willows along the bank. I had my only rescue of the day at this location, with one of the tail end Charlie’s testing our rescue readiness by tipping out of his boat and heading for the willows. Fortunately he was able to kick himself away from the trees and I was able to tow him to shore before he went to far down stream. Unfortunately he did this in front of a number of safety kayakers and so received a fair amount of ribbing.


Date: 26/2/05
River: Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
River Conditions: Clear.
Weather Conditions: Warm with light NW winds.
Number on Trip: 20-30
Comments: This was the inaugural Gurneygears Glow, Glow, Glow your Boat event. This was a great night out and a hole heap of fun (even if there was no white water). Lauri spent all day decorating her kayak with glow sticks, flashing lights, fluoro tape, CDs and other accoutrements and it looked really great and she won the prize for the best decorated kayak. I merely added some lights inside my orange Fly so it glowed and added a road cone with a flashing light inside (purchased not obtained by the “traditional” method). We arrived late due to me being late back from the Rangitata (see below, it was a very busy day) and missed the rubbish pick up a long the banks of the Avon. We had a barbecue thanks to the Mad Butcher (not the best cooked sausages and where was our Watties sauce!) and then put the boats in to the river after it got dark. There was a real variety of water craft ranging from Steve Gurney in his double race boat, race boats, white water kayaks, a Canadian canoe and a dinghy. The boats looked fabulous and there was a reasonable turnout considering the short notice of the event (we only found out on Wednesday) and a number of other events on that weekend. It would be really great to see a bigger turnout next year as the event was lots of fun and raises the profile of our sport. We paddled through the centre of town singing and carrying on, with a brief stop by the town hall to pose for photos and some impromptu “play boating” in the fountain. Then we carried on down the river and took out by the fire station, just round the corner from our place.

20050410 Glow Boats 02

Two decorated Flys.


Date: 26/2/05
River: Rangitata River, South Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 81 Cumecs at Klondyke. Grade 2+, clear and swift.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm.
Number on Trip: 2
Comments: This was the second kayak stage of the Mt. Cook to Christchurch race. We put in near the camp ground and protected a couple of rapids that swept into a couple of strainers. No problems, with only one paddler needing to be towed to shore before going down the second rapid with the strainer. There was a nice wave in my rapid and I spent a bit of time carving across it in the Invader when not watching for “customers”. A nice day out, but pretty tiring even though we got out where we put in.


Date: 20/2/05
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 55 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+ (3), clear and swift.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm with light NW winds.
Number on Trip: 15
Comments: Another run down the Hurunui from Jollie Brook. A beautiful day for a beautiful river, unfortunately the flow levels were a bit high for the planned Rangitata Gorge trip (120 cumecs at Klondyke, less that 95 cumecs is preferred) so there was no Klondyke trip either, which was a shame as it would have been a good flow. Had a great trip with out any problems (a surprise roll just after the Dozy Stream put in and another in Maori Gully too). Maori Gully was good at this flow with lots of holes to avoid and was quite a bit more pushy than the previous trip.


Date: 30/1/05
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 19 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+ (3), clear.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm with NE winds.
Number on Trip: 31
Comments: My first river trip of the year and there seemed to be lots of people keen to get back on the Hurunui. We had planned to do a safety focus trip but with over 30 paddlers we abandoned this idea and split into three groups (one group specifically for play boaters, the other two composed of a lot of newer paddlers with a few experience kayakers to keep an eye on them) for a leisurely paddle down the river. Hugh also took his small cataraft, which sparked a certain amount of interest, especially whilst running the drops in Maori Gully. We paddled down from Jollie Brook to Seawards, with at least half of the group running Maori Gully as well. The flow was 19 cumecs, the lowest I’ve paddled it in a while    and the upper half of the Jollie Brook to South Branch section was a bit boney but the rest of it was quite nice. The drops in Maori Gully were more pronounced, with some “new” rocks appearing unexpectedly but with the lower flow it was less pushy so it was easier to play on things without getting washed off. Buffer waves etc were quite a bit smaller. I think most people really enjoyed themselves and the last people were off the river by around 5pm (with a 9am start from the Belfast Tavern).

2003 Kayaking Season

Date: 21/12/03
River: Rangitata River, South Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 113 rising to 156 cumecs at Klondyke, water discoloured and swift. Grade 2+
Weather Conditions: Overcast at first then sunny and warm with north-easterly winds.
Number on Trip:14
Comments: Two inches of rain in the hills during the night caused the river to rise, meaning that Rangitata Rafts weren’t paddling the gorge and it was decided that we would just paddle from the weir at Klondyke down to the Outdoor Pursuits Centre instead of splitting into two groups with the more experienced paddlers doing the gorge. Surprisingly enough we had no swimmers at all, despite having some new beginners (they managed to stay upright or roll when upside-down, took me years to manage that). The river was quite different from the other times I had paddled it, with much more pressure waves and less boulders to dodge, the hole where I banged my head on a previous trip was just a series of waves. Lots of fun trying to surf the waves, especially once the sun came out and really brighten the whole trip up.


Date: 7/12/03
River: Hurunui River, Northern Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 57 cumecs at Mandamus, water clear and swift. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm
Number on Trip: 16
Comments: This was the second day of our river rescue and trip leaders course and covered the crisis management side of the course. Ran down through Jollie Brook in the morning and practised various rescue techniques before heading down to South Branch in the afternoon to put our lessons in to practise. This culminated in a full on disaster scenario, with the whole of the second group needing to be rescued. I managed to tow Simon to “safety” and get him back to his boat. I then pulled in to nasty eddy to “rescue” Dave who was too “scared” to paddle out of the eddy without assistance, I offered to assisted ferry him out but he was too “scared” for that (which was fortunate as I was too scared for that for real), fortunately Barry arrived back from rescuing some others and we rafted up and floated out of the eddy, it was a bit rough but everything held together. Paddled further down the river and set up our own scenario, which involved multiple unconscious paddlers floating face down as well as a couple of pinned boats, a real trip from hell. Paddled out to South Branch and got out, some talk of paddling Maori Gully but that fell through as it was getting quite late by the time we had had the final debrief. Had a great weekend but was very tired by the end, hopefully I will remember what I had learned and will be able to be a bit more useful when it comes to rescuing beginners in future.


Date: 6/12/03
River: Hurunui River, Northern Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 27 cumecs at Mandamus, water clear and swift. Grade 3
Weather Conditions: Rain clearing to sunny and warm in the afternoon
Number on Trip: 17
Comments: This was the first day of our river rescue and trip leaders course. In the morning, we paddled down through the Jollie Brook rapids and then proceed to lock at various instructional techniques and river safety and risk management strategies. After lunch, we paddled down to South Branch putting into practice what we had learned and role playing various scenarios. I managed to get pin at one stage perpendicular to the current with my nose against a bluff and my tail against a rock. Fortunately I didn’t tip over and our instructor provided some support with his boat on the downstream side and we were able to work the nose out with out to much drama and free the boat. Took a swim later on trying to play off a pillow at the base of a bluff, tried a roll but bailed out as I didn’t feel particularly comfortable. Had a really good day and learnt a heap of new things.


Date: 3/12/03
Location: Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, NZ
River Conditions: Actually it is a lake and was generally flat with a slight swell
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm
Number on Trip: 2
Comments: Lauri and I went sea kayaking on the lake during our stay in Queenstown. We hired the two sea kayaks from Thomas’s Hotel for a discounted rate (we had to do some maintenance on one of them as someone had set fire to the seat). We managed to picked the right day with minimal wind or swell and paddled around the bay and across Frankton Arm and up the back of the Kelvin Heights peninsula. We managed to get back just in time to return the boats by nine o’clock.


Date: 23/11/03
River: Hurunui River, Northern Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 62 cumecs at Mandamus, water clear and swift. Grade 3
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm
Number on Trip: 17
Comments: This was probably one of the best kayaking trips I’ve ever been on, the weather was perfect and the river was reasonably high and the water was clear and swift. We broke in to three groups, with us in the lead, and paddled down from the Salmon Farm (above the top gorge) to the South Branch confluence, catching eddies and playing on waves all the way down but still making good time. It was good to be in the lead as congestion in the rapids was kept to a minimum. The top gorge was quite cool, similar in some respects to the Ashley, I had never paddled it before and quite enjoyed it, although it did take a while to fully build up my confidence. From the South Branch down we changed the groups around as some people didn’t want to paddle the whole distance. Paddled down to Seawards without much drama, just the odd rescue and then on through Maori Gully with the more experienced paddlers. Maori Gully was quite exciting and this was the highest flow I’d ever paddled it at, tipped once but rolled up immediately, really exhilarating. Felt much more confident about my abilities after this trip.


Date: 16/11/03
River: Rai River, Nelson Region, NZ
River Conditions: Rai falls 3.3 cumecs. Water slightly discoloured. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm
Number on Trip: 2
Comments: Just Lauri and me reliving our Outward Bound experiences at the Rai Falls before we had to head back to Christchurch. I ran the falls a couple of times, including once backwards to try and recapture the Outward Bound experience, kind of funny, I ended up doing some sort of tail stand before being able to paddle out of the falls.

20031116 Rai_Falls_backwards

Running the Rai Falls backwards. Photo by Lauri.


Date: 15/11/03
River: Pelorus and Rai Rivers, Nelson Region, NZ
River Conditions: Pelorus at Bryant’s 5.4 cumecs, Rai falls 3.5 cumecs. Water clear. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Overcast but cleared to be sunny and warm
Number on Trip: 2
Comments: Lauri and I put in at Pelorus Bridge and paddled up the Rai, portaging over the rapids. We went as far as the “Chicken Run” rapid (near the derelict wire swing bridge) above the Rai falls. Both ran the rapid and then paddled back down to the Rai falls where I left Lauri to have a paddle while I paddled back to Pelorus Bridge to pick up the car.

20031115 Rai_Chicken_Run

Lauri on the Rai River.


Date: 13/11/03
River: Pelorus River, Nelson Region, NZ
River Conditions: Pelorus at Bryant’s 6 cumecs. Water clear. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm
Number on Trip: 2
Comments: Put in at Pelorus Bridge and paddled around the bridge, played on the rapids just above the bridge. Lauri enjoyed her paddle and it was hard to pry her out of her boat. I quite enjoyed playing on the small rapid and even tried (unsuccessfully) to do a whoopee and got to do a roll, much to the delight of Lauri.

20031113 Rai_River_kayaking

Lauri in her Fly on the Rai River.


Date: 11/11/03
River: Pelorus and Rai Rivers, Nelson Region, NZ
River Conditions: Pelorus at Bryant’s 6.5 cumecs, Rai falls 4.7 cumecs. Water clear. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Hot and sunny
Number on Trip: 1
Comments: Put in at Pelorus Bridge and paddled up the Rai as far as the Rai falls and then back down again. Was quite surprised to find that the stretch we paddled on Outward Bound took less than ten minutes to paddle, it seemed a lot longer in the middle of winter with all the stops and swims. Beautiful area to paddle though, not sure that I fully appreciated it on Outward Bound.


Date: 2/11/03
River: Hurunui River, Northern Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 60 cumecs at Mandamus, water clear and swift. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Strong westerly winds, cold and showery with fine patches.
Number on Trip: 13
Comments: This was my first proper Hurunui trip of the season and I was feeling a bit nervous, I don’t think the previous trip helped my confidence. We put in at the South Branch confluence and then paddled down to Seawards with part of the group doing Maori Gully, I decided not to this time as it was cold and windy and my confidence levels were a bit low. It was a reasonably interesting trip as the river was quite high and running pretty swiftly. There were a number of swimmers, especially amongst a group of beginners I ended up shepherding because I was generally taking the chicken routes. I found myself on several occasions being the only vaguely competent paddler in a position to aid some of the swimmers and didn’t feel completely comfortable with this, however there were no serious problems and by the end of the trip I was feeling much more confident in my ability.


Date: 19/10/03
River: Hurunui River, Northern Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 73 cumecs at State Highway 1, water cloudy and swift. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Warm Nor-wester, sunny.
Number on Trip: 14
Comments: We were doing the run down the lower Hurunui from Cat Hill Station to the State Highway 1 bridge. This was Lauri’s first club trip for a while, unfortunately the river was still quite high and this caused a few problems for her and the other beginners on the trip. There were a number of swims, particularly at one of the first corners where the water flowed into a bluff and formed a reasonably strong whirl pool that saw Lauri and her gear doing a few circuits before being washed out. The rest of the trip went reasonably well without too many problems, and we had a pleasant lunch sitting in the sun on the historic and rather rickety bridge (it is wooden and was built in 1911 and definitely shows its age) watching the river rush along beneath us.


Date: 21/9/04
River: Ashley River, Northern Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 30 cumecs at Ashley Gorge, water brown. Grade 3
Weather Conditions: SWS, overcast with occasional showers. Cold.
Number on Trip: 9
Comments: This was supposed to be my first trip as trip leader, a nice leisurely cruise down the Waiau, but that was running at 235 cumecs so it was off to the Ashley. As all the beginners that were intending to come decided not to come, we just ran the grade 3 section down to the domain. The river looked pretty scary (the brown water cascading through grade 3 rapids does that) and I took a swim off a different buffer wave from last trip and the water was very cold. Overall a good trip with no problems but pretty exciting and scary.


Date: 14/9/03
River: Ashley River, Northern Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 25 cumecs at Ashley Gorge, water clear. Grade 3
Weather Conditions: Fine and warm with nor-westerly winds
Number on Trip: 20
Comments: This was supposed to be a Hurunui trip, but with the Ashley river flowing at suitable levels it was decided that it would be a better trip. Most of the group paddled down the upper section to the middle bridge, where the less experienced paddlers took out and a group that only wanted to paddle the gorge joined us the rest of the way to the reserve. The sun was nice and warm but the water was freezing and not really appreciated by those of us who took swims (I tipped over after hitting a large buffer wave coming off a massive boulder on one of the last major rapids of the gorge). The trip was excellent with great scenery and the weather and river conditions were almost perfect (it was quite a surprise to find that it had been bucketing down in town).


Date: 6/9/03
River: Rai River, Nelson Region, NZ
River Conditions: Water clear. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm
Number on Trip: 2
Comments: Just Lauri and me reliving our Outward Bound experiences at the Rai Falls. Great fun and the weather was excellent but the water was very cold. On a disappointing note, I learned afterward that Outward Bound no longer use this excellent location due to pollution from dairy farming upstream, this probably also explains our itchy rashes that developed after this trip.


Date: 5/9/03
River: Pelorus and Rai Rivers, Nelson Region, NZ
River Conditions: Water clear. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm
Number on Trip: 2
Comments: Lauri and I put in at Pelorus Bridge and had a bit of a paddle before it got dark, really enjoyed it as the scenery, water and rocks were superb.


Date: 18/5/03
River: Hurunui River, Northern Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 27.5 cumecs at Mandamus, water clear. Grade 3
Weather Conditions: Cold and overcast with sou-westerly winds
Number on Trip: 13
Comments: This was my last trip of the season and supposedly the “Mystery” trip, however the mystery river (possibly the Orari) didn’t get enough rain so we paddled the Hurunui instead. The air was cold but the river was even colder, I decided to wear my wet suit jacket and poogees this time so I was a lot warmer that the previous trip. Paddled down from the bridge on the South Branch , some of the group got out at Seawards and the rest paddled through Maori Gully. Not a bad trip, though the cold certainly reduced my urge to play and risk a roll (managed to keep both my feet and head dry as a result). I paddled the harder route above the Dozy Stream put in and caught the eddy without any problems. Also managed to get into and more importantly out of the large eddy where the river runs into a bluff between Dozy Stream and Seawards. Remembering to lean forward certainly helped on a number of the drops in Maori Gully. Tried out the Brew Moon cafe on the way home, quite good but I’m pretty sure they were really ready to have almost 20 kayakers descend on them all at once, Chee Chang and Annabel had finished there meal before others had even received their coffee.


Date: 10/5/03
River: Hurunui River, Northern Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 24 cumecs at Mandamus, water clear. Grade 3
Weather Conditions: Cold and rainy with strong nor-westerly winds, with very strong gusts
Number on Trip: 10
Comments: Cold and miserable summed up this trip, the water was freezing and having icy rain blasted into your face certainly didn’t improve things, plus I didn’t bring my wet suit jacket (it isn’t that cold, wrong!) and my poogees were buried at the bottom of my dry bag. We were supposed to go to Lake Brunner and do the Arnold and Crooked Rivers but heavy rain got that idea canned and we decided to do the Hurunui as a consolation paddle. We paddled down from the South Branch convergence and part of the group did Maori Gully while the rest got out at Seawards and took care of the shuttle. The paddling side went ok with no real problems, did a roll after a spill coming down the Elevator and then accidentally ran Murray down whilst trying to regain control. He ended up upside-down holding on to the front of my boat as I tried not to tip again, oops.


Date: 13/4/03
River: Boyle River, Lewis Pass, NZ
River Conditions: 8 cumecs estimated, water clear and cold. Grade 2+
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm.
Number on Trip: 18
Comments: This was another of Hugh Canard’s rarely paddled trips and was worth the little bit of extra travel. We put in above the Engineers Camp on the way to Springs Junction and took out at Windy Point. The river was a bit bony in places but the scenery was great on this section of the river especially in the gorges. There were a couple of grade 2+ rapids in the gorges, with some good drops and the odd hole, one of which Chee Chang mistook for an eddy and I followed him in to it, quite exciting. The Fly performed admirably and I even managed to keep my feet dry (the river was really cold so it was good not to even have to try a roll). We had a couple of swimmers but no major problems and everyone enjoyed themselves, so another great trip that is definitely worth repeating.

20030403 What_to_do_if_your_kayak_turns_upsidedown

Here is a handy idea if you forget what to do when your kayak tips over, just read your boat!


Date: 30/3/03
River: Buller River, Owen river down to Doctors Creek section, Murchison, NZ
River Conditions: Low level, approximately 30 cumecs, water clear. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Warm but overcast, occasional showers.
Number on Trip: 18 approximately
Comments: This was another nice and easy trip, but quite long but the scenery was great. I took a very refreshing swim (without a kayak) in the river whilst everyone got things sorted out. The water was lovely and clear, though I did get some funny looks from the other paddlers. I took Ian’s Reflex and let his partner Debbie paddle the Fly (it was the smallest boat available). Ian’s Reflex didn’t seem to have the same foot room as mine and so it got a bit painfully, I also hurt my knees when I got out after trying to surf a wave (this is one of the few things I don’t like about the Reflex, it has a small cockpit and is quit hard to get out of). One of the more impressive sights of the trip was watching Matt, Andrew and Dominic (apparently he is going to some pool sessions and actually learn to kayak now) doing seal launches from about 4-5m up a cliff.


Date: 29/3/03
River: Buller River, Granity Creek run, Murchison, NZ
River Conditions: Low level, approximately 30 cumecs, water clear. Grade 3
Weather Conditions: Warm but overcast, occasional showers.
Number on Trip: 20 approximately
Comments: This was the Granity Creek run from Gowan bridge down to the Raits Road take out, no exactly a grade two trip but everyone was game to give it a go, even our absolute beginner Dominic (he must have been on the fast track, it took me about three years before I tried a grade 3 river). The trip started fairly mildly but soon moved up a notch with some technical rock dodging due to the low flow (Dominic decided to have a swim at this point but was rescued with out any problems). Carried on down to the Granity Rapid were we caught up with a group of people on river bugs (sort of floating arm chairs) and got out for a look. Pretty scary looking, but most people ran the rapid with out much problems. I got down the first drop and then ended up with my kayaks nose high in the air and then I went over. Tried a couple of unsuccessful rolls and decided to bail out after I noticed I was heading for a big rock. Kicked of the rock and then noticed I was heading for the next drop over a couple of rocks, with a large hole at the bottom. At this point I decided to let go of the Fly and watched it disappear into the swirling mass of white water, I soon followed and popped up a couple of metres down the river, grabbed the throw line Ian had tossed me and swam to shore. Pretty exhilarating, I’d do that again, even the swim was neat (oops kayakers aren’t supposed to enjoy swimming). Carried on down the river pretty up eventfully, except for a bit in a shallow rock garden near the end when Chris deliberately rammed me on to a rock and then I got run down by Becs who was paddling on my other side. As the water was so shallow I had to get out and walk to shore to empty my boat out. I gave Chris dirty looks for the rest of the trip. We were off the river just before dark after a pretty long day, nicely finished of with a cider and a huge steak sandwich at the pub in Murchison.


Date: 29/3/03
River: Middle Matakitaki River, Murchison, NZ
River Conditions: Low level, water clear. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Warm but overcast, occasional showers.
Number on Trip: 18
Comments: A nice easy run, with some good scenery and a nice gorge. This trip made a good start to our grade 2 weekend in Murchison, with no one having any real problems, even Dominic who was making his first white water river trip (little did he know what the weekend had in store). The wait at the get out got a bit worrying when one of the bulls wandered past, bellowing loudly (apparently one of the other guys had his car almost trashed by the cows on a previous trip).


Date: 23/3/03
River: Hurunui River, Northern Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 16.8 cumecs at Mandamus, water clear. Grade 2 to 3
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm with nor-westerly winds, occasional strong gusts.
Number on Trip: 20
Comments: This was a very interesting and epic trip, very different from what I had been lead to expect. This rarely paddled trip was not the long, largely flat water paddle with just the one major feature, the Hawarden Gap, that I had heard it would be. Murray suggested doing Maori Gully as a warm up so two groups of four put in Seawards, while the rest of the group put in at the Maori Gully take out. We had an uneventful trip through the Gully, I was still a bit nervous so took fairly easy, so no swims or rolls. As we exited the Maori Gully and headed in to unknown territory, I (wrongly) assumed that the hard part of the trip was over. There were numerous rapids with plenty of good holes and waves to play on. The river had two gorges, the first with the Hawarden Gap and some quite exciting rapids, the second being much easier. Arrived at the start of the Hawarden Gap to find most of the other paddlers on shore inspecting the rapid, I joined them and decided it did indeed look quite exciting. The entire Hurunui River flows through a gap about 3m wide with a reasonable drop. Several newer paddlers decided to portage and there were some swimmers and the guy paddling the fibreglass slalom boat bent the nose quite badly (though nothing also a whole roll of duct tape couldn’t fix). The next rapid was a bit more technical and accounted for some more swims, as did a number of the following rapid further down the gorge. This made for a quite tiring trip (not sure we really needed the Maori Gully “warm up” after all) and most people were quite glad when the get out appeared and we finally got out of our boats around 5:50pm. A long shuttle followed and we didn’t get back to Christchurch until after 9pm. A very worth while trip for its scenery and wilderness appeal, plus some good rapids and play spots, though definitely a grunt in a play boat (I was glad to have the Reflex along).


Date: 16/3/03
River: Waiau River, Northern Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 36.7 cumecs at Marble Point, water clear. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Generally fine and sunny with light NE winds
Number on Trip: 6
Comments: Took the Fly for a paddle down from the Hanmer river to the bridge at the irrigation out take. Was a very nice trip with plenty of opportunities for playing around and the Fly performed really well, possibly due to my decreased weight (from 82 kg to 72 kg) and increased ability. Went for a swim after tipping over by a bluff I was fooling around by and failing to roll up at least twice. Swam to shore in the almost flat water looking a bit sheepish. Also tipped over after running down Tracy at Sharks Tooth, but rolled up with no problems. Tracy got rolled upright by Murray and so missed out on a swim too. Maxine tipped out at the last corner and floated down the rest of the river behind Tracy’s boat, but got out well before the irrigation out take with its warning about swimming (always scares me that bit).


Date: 9/3/03
River: Waimakariri River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 67 cumecs at SH1, water clear. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Hot and sunny.
Number on Trip: 3
Comments: More safety boating for the Endurance race, this leg from the Willows to Stewart’s Gully (a little longer than the Brass Monkey course but shorter than originally planned due to hazards from over hanging willows). Ended up sitting on an island near a nasty corner that caused problems during last years Brass Monkey, watching the competitors paddle past in their race boats without a problem. Had a nice little paddle (practice for this years Brass Monkey?) but got too much sun and was glad to get off the river and in to the shade.


Date: 8/3/03
River: Rangitata River, South Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 93 cumecs at Klondyke, water slightly cloudy, cold and swift. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Hot and sunny.
Number on Trip: 2
Comments: This wasn’t really a kayak trip as such, we were just providing safety boats for the Endurance Race (about 460km of cycling, running and kayaking from Mt. Cook to Christchurch and not via the shortest route, a real race for masochists). The two of us put in above the weir at Klondike and paddled down to the play hole and spent the rest of the day watching the 60 odd competitors paddle past, with only the occasional worried look as they went straight through the hole. No swimmers, so we didn’t actually have to do anything. When the tail end paddlers came through with the last competitor, we paddled to Lynn’s stream and got out, the competitors had to paddle down to the Arundel bridge. Most of the competitors were paddling sea kayaks, which handled the conditions really well. Though generally the top competitors used fibreglass race boats without any problems, some other people ended up with a few holes and leaks due to encounters with rocks. It was quite tiring and hard to keep up with Brad in his sea kayak with my reflex, especially when we were trying to keep up with the tail end paddlers in race boats.


Date: 2/3/03
River: Buller River, Murchison, NZ
River Conditions: Water clear and swift. Grade 3
Weather Conditions: Hot and sunny.
Number on Trip: 3
Comments: Phil, Kelly and I headed down the O’Sullivan’s leg of the Buller River, site of the Buller Fest Rodeo and Slalom competitions. This was a fairly short trip and we only spent around twenty minutes on the river. Did some eddy hopping and then headed down the main rapid, through the large pressure waves before stopping in the eddy. Did several runs down the main rapid before doing the next rapid and getting out. I found this quite a bit more scary than Maori Gully, especially breaking out of the eddy into the main flow above the “play” waves (see photo below).

20030302 Rich_at_OSullivans3

The Reflex on O’Sullivan’s. Photo by Lauri.


Date: 16/2/03
River: Hurunui River, Northern Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 21 cumecs at Mandamus, water clear. Grade 2+ to 3
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm with nor-westerly winds, occasional strong gusts.
Number on Trip: 17
Comments: We put in at Dozy Stream and with the low water levels combined with a number of other groups on the rivers, it seemed positively crowded. I took and early dunking playing around before we got under way but managed to roll ok. Made our way down to Seaward and had a brief break and then the whole group carried on through Maori Gully. I was a little bit worried as we approached the infamous Simon’s Hole, this being my first ever trip down the grade 3 section, but everything went ok. I took a swim after tipping over in a series of rapids, I tried to roll repeatedly but the water was quite turbulent so after a long period under water I decided to bail out. Unfortunately I had a bit of difficulty releasing the spray skirt and then got slightly stuck getting out of the cockpit (the reflex has a small cockpit and a central support), still I did manage to get out ok. Ironically I ended up in nice flat pool that I could have easily rolled up in and my would be rescuers arrived just as I had exited the boat, a short distance from the bank. Managed another roll further down river with out too much effort, also managed to rescue Annabel after she tipped out in some rapids directly in front of me (I even managed to grab her paddle with out actually tipping out myself). Found it difficult towing her up stream to her boat but in the end she was reunited with all her gear in a quiet eddy. An Australian, who was paddling with some friends, showed us some pretty neat tricks at one hole, cart-wheeling and rolling without using a paddle. Really enjoyed the trip and was quite impressed with the difference between the grade 2 and 3 sections.


Date: 19/1/03
River: Waiau River, Northern Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 60 cumecs at Marble Point, water clear. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm with nor-westerly winds, occasional strong gusts.
Number on Trip: 21
Comments: First trip of the year for me and the first successful club trip to the Waiau this season. The day was warm and sunny and the river was at a good flow (most of the rapids washout at higher flows). The first bluff tripped up a number of paddlers, myself included, fortunately I was able to roll upright without too much difficulty, however a number of beginners went for swims and needed to be fished out. It was good to have a quick dunking early in the trip as I often find that it boasts my confidence (as long as you don’t end up taking a thrashing). The main rapids saw a lot of playing, Murray pull a particularly impressive move and manage to get his boat completely airborne shooting backwards out of a hole. Someone also found a small brightly coloured rubber ball and we had a lot of fun playing a form of canoe polo as we made our way down the river. Bob tried out Hugh’s boat and decided to try a practice roll in a small and overcrowded (and rather boily) eddy and failed to get upright and ended up swimming, oops. He also managed to lose his Leatherman in about 5m of water due to an unzipped pocket on his buoyancy vest and was none too pleased.

20030119 Kayaking_Waiau

Surfing the play hole on the Waiau.