Category Archives: Sea

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

2011 Kayaking Season

Date: 2/10/11
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions: 40 to 47 cumecs at Mandamus and rising. Water clear above South Branch, discoloured below, cold and swift. Grade 2 (3).
Weather Conditions: Cool, cloudy with occasional sunny periods, strong westerly winds.
Number on Trip: 16 people.
Time on River: 3 Hours.
Comments: This was my first trip down the the Hurunui for over a year and I was a little nervous. I had completely missed the last WWCC kayaking season, what with working in Australia, the trip to Korea and the Christchurch earthquakes. There were a lot of new faces at the Belfast Tavern car park but Bob and Murray were there and I travelled up to the Jollie Brook put in with them. The river flow gauge was reading at a steady 25 cumecs the day before and the trip down to South Branch seem rather tame, which suited me as I was trying to get my kayaking fu back and the water was a bit colder than back in Australia.

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Part of the group at Jollie Brook. Still plenty of snow on the mountains.

The water flowing down the South Branch was cloudy with sediment and cold, a result of the rain falling in the mountains. Based on the flow gauge, this boosted the total flow by approximately 20 cumecs and reducing the cruisiness of the trip somewhat. Devil’s Fang Falls was exciting but presented no problems, with those in our brunch, cleanly running the right of centre line. A little further down we had our first drama as Murray ended up swimming after being pushed into a bluff and being rotated a number of times at its’ base whilst being battered against the rocks. I took my first roll of the trip here after a bit of kayak on kayak interaction. Bob ended upside down on the “Eddy of Doom” bluff, but this was just a brief interlude and he was probably only doing it to cool down.

By Seawards I has a bit tired and sore, but after a bite to eat and a brief walk (to restore movement to my right leg), I crammed myself back in the boat and we all headed down stream into Maori Gully. The Magic Round-About was good though the water level on the rocks tended to indicate that there was more than 25 to 30 cumecs in the river now. The wind was pretty strong and blew me off the round-about circuit and off down the river. I took a roll on the first set of rapids after dropping into a hole at the end of the sequence. Dodged everything on the next rapids and then pulled in to the eddy above Cheese Grater to wait for the rest of the group. Murray went down first, pulling into Grand Stand Eddy on the left, one of the next paddlers tipped above the rapid (something not to do, I thought) but rolled up with plenty of time before going over the drop. I broke out, hit the current and promptly tipped over too, my first roll was rushed and didn’t work, the edge got nearer. Fortunately the next roll worked and I was upright as I positioned myself above the drop, the water kicked hard left towards a slightly undercut rock but I managed to avoid that and get into the eddy without much drama.

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Exiting Cheese Grater.

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Why it is called Cheese Grater.

One of our group had ended up looking a bit battered after some geological interaction but was still smiling and able to carry on. A few pop ups at the Pop Up Spot and then to the long climb up the the cars and dry clothes. A good day out and great to be back out on the Hurunui again with a good bunch of people.


Date: 8/9/11
Location:
Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia.
Water Conditions:
Warm with a 2m swell..
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and warm, moderate winds.
Number on Trip:
11 people.
Time on Water:
3 Hours.
Comments:
Tim at Planula Bed & Breakfast helpfully sorted out this trip for us with Cape Byron Kayaks. After sorting out our gear and wetsuits, we had a brief safety and “how to paddle” session and then dragged the kayaks down to the beach. The sand was clean and white and squeaked when you walked on it, the ocean warm (ish) and blue. Most of the kayaks managed to get out through the waves without much drama but when we came to do it, we had a series of large waves break over us, washing Lauri back down the kayak (a large plastic sit on top) until the third and largest wave swept both of us off. On our next try, things worked out a lot better. The swell was bigger than expected and this added an exciting dimension to the trip. On the way out towards Julian Rock we had a dolphin appear briefly but the best part was watching the hump back whales leap out of the water or slap their tails on the surface, a mother with calf even approached our group, getting within almost 20m of our kayaks which was pretty amazing.

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Lauri and I on our kayak about a kilometre or two off shore.

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A whale’s tail with us in the green kayak on the left.

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Watching the whale, we are in the green kayak.

Surfing down the swell on our way back to shore was cool and we were both a little tired by the time surfed (and wiped out) through the breakers and land back on the beach again. Then it was time for a well earned cup of tea and a Tim Tam before a group photo.

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Our intrepid whale watching group of kayakers.


Date: 19/3/11
Location: Penrith White Water Course, NSW, Australia.
River Conditions: Swift and warm, very pushy.
Weather Conditions: Cool with periodic heavy rain.
Number on Trip: Lots.
Time on Water: 3 hours.
Comments: Another road trip to Penrith with a stop for lunch and a chat at Dave Thurston’s Roadhouse Stop. Arrive a bit later than intended due to a late start but was quickly changed and on the water. A bit of warm up and then off round the course. I’m getting a bit more used to the course but it still handed out plenty of spankings. Clean runs catching eddies alternated with swims, batterings and even one complete garage sale as I let go of my boat and paddle to avoid going over the last drop, having already swam most of the bottom third of the course. Rolling can get exciting as some of the rapids are closely spaced and you can get bashed around a lot while upside down and the sprayed on concrete can be pretty hard on skin and gear.

Highlights were meeting up with some members of Sydney’s River Canoe Club, a long surf in one of the larger holes (not entirely intended and followed by a swim whilst trying to get out of the hole and avoid being run down by a raft) and the occasional clean run catching eddies and not getting caned. The downsides were all the bruises and abrasions from the swims and rolls, though the loss of skin from my right hand wasn’t as upsetting as the loss of my wedding ring from my left hand. I had not removed my ring from my finger since Lauri placed it there at our wedding in Hawaii in May 2007. I noticed it missing towards the end of the day and I had no idea when it disappeared. I waited until they turned the water off and had a good luck around the course but didn’t find it and neither did the staff member who looked the next day so it may have dropped off in the bottom pool that doesn’t get drained. Hopefully it turns up as I don’t like being without it.


Date: 26/2/11
Location: Penrith White Water Course, NSW, Australia.
River Conditions: Swift and warm, very pushy.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and hot.
Number on Trip: Lots.
Time on Water: 2 hours.
Comments: This was my second visit to the Olympic white water course at Penrith, I’ve been putting it off partial because it is almost 200km away but mostly because the previous visit resulted in repeated canings and a badly grazed knee. However Lauri was keen to see the course and encouraged me by assuring me that the previous results were probably due to not having my own boat. I also wanted to find out if this was true and so didn’t really require much in the way of convincing. The drive from Singleton to Penrith along Putty Road was quite enjoyable though a bit windy. Much of the road runs through thick forest, along narrow, sandstone lined gullies or atop ridge lines with spectacular views to be glimpsed occasionally through the trees. We stopped briefly at the Roadhouse Stop for a cold drink and a hot dog. Dave Thurston (www.thurstontables.com) runs the place and makes some amazing metal sculptures, emus, wombats, Ned Kelly and even a 5m tall stainless steel man/woman. A beautiful area and a real restful stop with a tasty hot dog and a good chat with Dave, definitely worth stopping if you are passing by.

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Interesting sculptures and tasty hot dogs at Dave Thurston’s. Photo by Lauri.

When we arrived at Penrith and got out of the (nicely air conditioned) car, the heat hit us like a wall. We had lunch in the cafe, Lauri went for a vege burger and I had a ham & cheese croissant. When the meals arrived, they were huge, both came with salad, Lauri’s also had a mound of chips (which I had to help her eat). We both had knot’s in our stomachs, Lauri’s due to the windy road, mine due to apprehension at the possible caning to come.

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Some kayakers are a little better…

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…than others. Photos by Lauri.

I walked around the course to get a feel for the rapids and then got changed into my kayaking gear while Lauri finished her lunch. Properly dressed with my kayak on my shoulder I headed down to the bottom pool for a bit of a warm up. Practiced breaking out and crossing the rapid at the end of the course to get my confidence up. While I was chatting to a couple of young kayakers from Bondi, Lauri appear to find out where I was, she had been out in the blazing sun waiting for me to come down the conveyor belt into the top pool. She gave me a bit of a hurry on, so after a little more warm up I followed the Bondi kayakers up to the top pool.

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Catching eddies, just rolled upright or about to swim? Photo by Lauri.

I was pretty nervous on my first run, took fairly conservative lines, catching eddies where I could to get a better look at the rapids. A lot of the drops looked pretty big and scary but no drama and I got round clean. Lauri complained that I hadn’t waited so she could take photos, so on the next run I made more of an effort to be photogenic. On one of the early rapids I tipped over (smiling and not paddling doesn’t help you stay upright), managed to roll but got swept backwards against a set of bollards and over again, not having enough breath, I bailed and swam, with my kayak, in to the eddy formed by the bollards (all captured by Lauri’s camera).

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One of the larger drops. Photo by Lauri.

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Another of the bigger drops. Photo by Lauri.

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Cruising down some of the easier drops. Photo by Lauri.

After that, things went well and I began to enjoy myself, no more swims and just the odd roll, it was nice to have my own boat. The highlights of the course were probably the last drop, which is pretty big and a nice scary finish, and another of the larger drops that has a rooster tail at the bottom of the chute. I avoided the rooster tail on my first couple of runs but after Lauri mentioned that it looked good when others ran it, I gave it a go. It was pretty exciting racing down the chute towards the looming wall of water and then shooting up its’ face, through the spray at the top and then down through the trailing wave train.

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Now that’s what I’m talking about! Photo by Lauri.

The course was pretty busy with numerous kayakers of various ages, skill levels and boat types (creek, play, slalom and even the odd inflatable), multiple rafts taking punters out for a white water thrill and even the SES running a swift water rescue course. Despite being busy there was still a lot of scope for doing what you wanted to do and everyone seemed to be having fun. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the neighbourhood, even if you don’t have a boat (hire boats available) or can’t kayak (spectators are welcome or you could do a raft trip).

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A happy kayaker enjoying a day out at Penrith. Photo by Lauri.


Date: 13/1/11
River: Hunter River, Singleton, NSW, Australia.
River Conditions: low flow, slow and brown.
Weather Conditions: Sunny, hot and muggy.
Number on Trip: 1 person.
Time on River: 1 hours.
Comments: It was a very hot and muggy and I had meant to explore the Hunter River for a while. I put in at the New England highway bridge and paddled upstream, the water was pretty shallow and dirty and the day was hot but it was still nice to be on a river. I managed to get within sight of the rail bridge but a small, shallow rapid prevented any further travel upstream. I paddled back down and spent about half an hour “playing” on a slight hole formed by a log or something. It was the kind of feature you wouldn’t notice normally but it was the best on offer that day so I enjoyed surfing it until it was time to go home. Not the most exciting trip but still pleasant.

2001 Kayaking Season

Date: 15/12/01
River: South Branch of the Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
Comment: Went kayaking on Saturday, but didn’t get much paddling as the recent rains have got all the river levels up. About 8 of the less experienced paddles sat most of it out after various swims at the put in. Just ran the South Branch down from Esk Station as the main stem was a bit too high. It was a big trip with about 29 boats on the river. We had the traditional pig on a spit barbecue at Angus’s farm after the trip, which was quite tasty.


Date: 21/10/01
River: Buller River, Murchison, NZ
River Conditions: High, water brown and swirly. Grade 2
Weather Conditions: Overcast, occasional rain.
Comments: Had a good Labour Weekend up at Murchison it rain heavily on Friday and Saturday and some of the rivers were quite high, so we didn’t get to do much paddling (with the high water the rivers became very swift and were a bit too difficult for Lauri and I). Still we had a nice restful weekend and got to eat well too (we brought tins of stew and rice…..), we ate at Maruia Springs on Saturday and Monday and had a meal at a local restaurant in Murchison on Sunday, so our cans of stew went home with us. Had some nice swims in the hot pools at Maruia and a few not quite so desirable swims in the muddy brown waters of the Buller River.

Here are a few additional comments from Hilda Mulligan, another novice paddler on the trip. Pictured below being rescued on the Middle Matakitaki below the swing bridge…

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Who’s swimming? Photo by Lauri.

“Sunday saw us heading for Doctor’s creek section on the Buller. We novices were each appointed a ‘minder’ to watch over us on our way down this still huge, grey pumping river. I have to admit I was petrified most of the way, but did manage it without the proverbial ‘swim’. On the other hand, Richard seemed to be out of his boat more time than in it and was eventually persuaded to leave the river and join the shuttlers at the first main road bridge”.

Sure I went for lots of swims on that trip (I blame the Super Sport and its’ slicey tail!) and I didn’t actually require much persuasion to get out. I took about three swims trying to get out of the eddy below the bridge before Barry or Bob finally towed me to the other side.


Date: 7/10/01
River: Waiau River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 150 Cumecs at Marble Point. Grade 2, water brown and swirly.
Number on Trip: 18
Comments: Rained lots in the hills the night before and the river was up from 47 cubic metres per second to around 150 cubic metres per second. The river was fast, brown and swirly, I found it pretty scary, fortunately Lauri didn’t come so she missed out on all the fun. It was a big trip with about 18 on the river. I fell in a few times, usually the result of getting confused in the boiling mass of brown water. Had a barbecue afterwards at the Belfast Tavern with Lauri, quite fun and a good end to the day (and who said being on call couldn’t be fun).


Date: 30/9/01
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
Comment: Kayaking on the upper Hurunui with Lauri. Lauri pulled out after a swim on the Jollie Brook rapids and I carried on with the group, either to South Branch or to Seaward. I was paddling the Super Sport with Lauri in the Fly.

The Super Sport by Jollie Brook. Photo by Lauri.

The Super Sport by Jollie Brook. Photo by Lauri.


Date: 16/9/01
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
Comment: Went kayaking on Sunday, got to try out my new kayak (the Perception Super Sport) on a real river, Lauri came along too and paddled the Fly. We went down the Hurunui from Cathill Station down the State Highway 1 bridge. Lauri did really well, especially as she hadn’t paddled anything rougher than the Avon since doing the beginners course last year, just fell out at the beginning before she had got her confidence, after that she stayed in her boat and really enjoyed herself. It was quite hard to keep up with her at times, as her boat is a lot faster. The weather was nice and warm and I missed falling in as it got quite hot in my wet suit.


Date: 6/05/01
River: Waiau River, North Canterbury, NZ
Comment: I got to try out my new kayak (the Super Sport) on some real white water. We went for a 15km paddle down the Waiau from the Hanmer turn off. Mainly grade two, I fell out quite a few times and got a good beating against some rocks. Most people fell out at that point, a nasty spot called Hells Gate Corner with lots of rocks and the water slamming in to a bluff (this isn’t normally a problem but the very low flow made it quite tricky). Pretty scenic trip and not too hard, still I feel pretty sore and tired the next day. We got to paddle round the island in river too, near a jagged rock call the “Sharks Tooth”, always looked interesting from the road, so now I’ve seen it up close, it was pretty neat, thought I was going the a swim there but some how I managed to get by. Boat handled quite well and is pretty quick, though not as stable as larger boats with more volume, very fun though.


Date: 22/4/01
River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
Comment: Took the kayak (Prijon Fly) down the Hurunui, had a good paddle and a few swims, the boat handles nicely, but you do have to keep on top of it (other wise you end up underneath it). Tried a few woopies (you bury the front in a wave and lean forward so it sinks, then shoot out backwards with the tail into the air, looks cute if you can do it) with some limited success. Trying things and playing about account for a lot of the swims.


Date: 25/4/01
River: Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
Comment: Paddled down to Kerr? Reach with Lauri on Anzac day which was quite fun. Dropped the car off by the rowing club and then biked home, so the car was waiting when we arrived in our kayaks. Being able drive home makes the whole enterprise a lot easier as some of the river is a bit hard to paddle up (quite swift and too shallow to paddle properly). I paddled my Dura and Lauri paddled the Fly.


Date: 24/2/01
Location: Lyttelton Harbour, Banks Peninsula, NZ
Comment: Went out to Quail Island in Lyttelton harbour last week end in a sea kayak. About a 8km round trip, very scenic, paddled in the caves and around the wrecks that litter the ships graveyard (the tide was low so this was particularly interesting). Had lunch on the island and a bit of a wander round. Lunch was rather disappointing as I had put the delicious filled roll that I had carefully made and wrapped in glad wrap in a plastic bag and just dropped it in one of the sea kayaks compartments. When we arrived at the island and I fished my lunch out, it was soaking wet. The compartment had quite a bit of dirty sea water in it and my lunch had been floating in it, YUK!

2000 Kayaking Season

Date: October / November 2000
Comment: Lauri and I both did the WWCC beginners course run by Phil and Kelly. I tried to do the course last year but missed out and I thought I had missed out again this year but they ran a second course. Lauri though it sounded like fun so she did it as well. The course involved 3 pool sessions at QEII, an Avon River session, session in the Estuary and finally a weekend on the Hurunui.

The session on the Avon covered basic paddle strokes and stuff like that. There was a guy called John on our cause and he seemed to fall out at every opportunity (he was only doing the course because his girlfriend was doing a multi-sport race and he was taking part too). Lauri also tipped upside down, unfortunately in a shallow spot and ended up cover in nasty Avon mud.

The estuary session took place at McCormacks Bay where the water runs under the causeway and as the tides change you get quite a good flow with a bit of white water. The flow increased as the tide came in and by the end of the session it was quite exciting. We mostly practiced breaking in and out of eddies. I managed to stay in my boat for most of the session but fell out right at the end and was completely knackered after that.

The Hurunui was great, real white water not like the Avon, so I got to fall out in a real river as we practiced breaking in and out of eddies and ferry gliding near the Jollie Brook swing bridge. Also we had a trip up to Lake Taylor in the afternoon which was very pleasant. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the car to start afterwards and it took ages to work out what the problem was. Finally I realised the ignition switch had crapped out so that when the car started and you released the key it turn the car off again. I had to drive back holding the key in the correct position or the engine would cut out. I roped the key into position for the trip back into town and sat very still (the power steering and brake don’t work so well with the engine off).

On the second day we put in at the camping area and paddled down to the swing bridge. Some of the rapids made the previous days efforts look pretty tame (Kelly described them as “more of the same as yesterday” so it was a bit of a surprise when the rapids at the top end of the Jollie Brook rapids appeared in front of me), but I didn’t fall out at all. Lauri handled it quite well and really enjoyed herself. We have since had a few paddles with the club on slalom night, which was quite fun and good practice. I’m looking at getting a more up to date kayak, mine (the Dura) is too long and outdated.


Date: 8/10/00
River: Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
Comment: Went kayaking down the Avon last weekend, started at the University, left the car there and paddled home. About 10-12kms in all, also explored one of the larger streams that flows into the river. Quite an interesting trip, got soaked early on as I slipped off the back of the kayak while I was getting out to portage over one of the weirs, was fairly sunny and warm so I dried out and no one saw me fall in so that was good too. Some nice houses and gardens back on to the river and most of them seem to have kayaks etc. Not many other people on the river though, except near the boat sheds near the park, where they hire canoes and boats, lots of people there. Also saw some big eels by the park, came quite close too. Met some friends in passing and stopped for a chat, quite a nice day out, a quick shower when I got home then cycled back to university to pick up the car. Next time I’ll start off up the other stream, I might also try paddling down to the estuary some time.

Early Paddling Experience

Date: 16/11/99
River: Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
Comment: We floated down the Avon the other weekend, me towing Lauri in a rubber raft with my kayak. That was great, the sun was out and it was really warm, we ended up floating past the car (parked by the WWCC boat shed, not that we knew that at the time) and carrying on, as it was so pleasant (the only problem was that I had to paddle 30 minutes back up the river to go and get the car, a lot easier not towing Lauri!). Occasionally got shouted at by hoons in passing vehicles, who seemed to be suggesting that Lauri should have been paddling too!


Date: 5/6/99
Location: New Brighton Pier, Christchurch, NZ
Comment: Brought a wave ski the other day and finally got to try it out at New Brighton last weekend, quite fun and the sea wasn’t too cold (would have been if not for the wet suit). Pretty tricky to stay balanced though, will need a bit more practice to get the hang of it. Still it is easy to get back on when you do fall off, nice not to have to drag it back to shore to empty the water out before having another go.


Date: 10/4/99
Location: New Brighton Pier, Christchurch, NZ
Comment: Had a busy Easter, took my kayak (the trusty Dura) out in the surf at New Brighton. It was great fun and the surf was pretty big. I canned out twice and at one stage had to swim back to shore from the end of the pier dragging a kayak full of water (air bags? what are air bags?) while holding my paddle. Still got some good rides.


Outward Bound, Anakiwa, NZ

This was the kayaking section of my Outward Bound experience with the notes taken directly from course diary with no editing, except for a few comments in brackets. Roger Reardon was our instructor and he now runs Sea Kayaking Adventure Tours in Anakiwa.

Date: 13/8/93
River: Rai River, Marlborough, NZ
Comment: Another morning, another PT session, this one seemed harder than before, just couldn’t seem to make headway on the run. Packed up late, so we were late out, got to the Rai River, got set up and practiced rolls (or at least turning over) and basic paddling. Got very cold and wet, played a few games to keep warm, then had a game of canoe polo, great fun, especially with the current and eddies creating interesting effects. Finished on dark, packed up then cooked tea, a sausage stew. Went to bed after tea, sleeping inside for a change, on a hard wooden floor, crammed in like sardines.


Date: 14/8/93
River: Rai River, Marlborough, NZ
Comment:Woke up early, but not early enough, so had a late start due to difficulties lighting the fire and getting in to wet gear, Roger wasn’t too pleased. Set off for our first kayak expedition down the river, pretty slow with the safety precautions required, people with throw ropes and ready to jump in to over turn upside down kayaks. Got pretty cold standing around, especially after jumping in to rescue people. Went through a few rapids with one having a little water fall, pretty scary looking, managed to get through it ok, pissed around a bit more in the kayak before Rog suggested doing it backwards, did that but tipped over when I hit an eddy. Chris went over at every chance but was ecstatic when he finally got it right (sort of). Went over a few more rapids before carrying the kayaks back to have some lunch. Had lunch, some bickering over serving etc. Back to the river to move a huge, long log that had lodged under the bank, through a bit of muscle, intelligence and axe work. Then we did seal launches off the bank (into where the log was), after we did that it was over a 1m high water fall, three times, each different, forwards, backwards and backwards with no paddle. Impossible and irrational but we did it. Then another game of canoe polo, then tea and to bed with the prospect of an early start.

19930814 Kayaking_on_Outward_Bound

Kayaking the Rai River, I am in the centre of the photo ready to leap in a rescue anyone who tipped over. Ironically for the middle of winter, I was wearing less than what I now wear for summer kayaking trips. Photo taken by Keri Hoglund.


Date: 15/8/93
Location: Rarangi Beach, Marlborough, NZ
Comment: Up early and away by 7am, a long ride in the truck to various locations, then to a beach for some sea kayaking. A spectacular coast line, with cliffs and caves. We paddled through the caves and around the rocks, with the swell making things interesting, got to a bay and had a rest, while others collected pauas for tea. Paddled back, pretty hard going and a bit frustrating with the nose going everywhere, still made it back to the beach with a bit of “encouragement” from Phil. Had lunch, more bickering, then out to do some surfing, good fun, then Rog suggested that we kiss our kayaks on the nose, slipped off, got soaked and filled the kayak with water so had to swim back. Got dried off then headed back for tea at camp, a disappointing stir fry. Ran our own debrief and sorted out our lunch problem (we got food for a 14 person watch and we had a 15 MAN watch and thus food was always in short supply and we got quite hungry and there were arguments about people swiping food or not sharing it fairly). Kayaking was great and I’ll have to do more when I get back (and that is exactly what I did, eventually!!!).


Date: 1984
River: Whanganui River, Taranaki, NZ
Comment: This was a family trip down the Whanganui River in Canadian canoes with a commercial group. We paddled down from Whakahoro at the confluence of the Retaruke River and down to Pipiriki. The trip took 4 to 5 days and covered about 90km. We had a great time and got plenty of blisters. My brother David paddled a kayak (possible a Dura, I’m not sure) and each morning it would be full of sand flies and he had to climb in to it just wearing shorts and seal all the sand flies in with the spray deck. The rapids were pretty cool but it rained heavily about half way through the trip, raising the river level and washing out most of the rapids. Only my parents took a swim, whilst ferry gliding across the swollen river, and you could hear the drama from quite a distance. Lauri and I never shout at each other when paddling the Topo Duo (unless of course I do something wrong!). One of the main highlights was getting to stand on the Bridge to Nowhere (a large concrete bridge with no connecting road in the middle of the bush). There was some great scenery and it was a pretty amazing trip.

1984 Canoeing_on_the_Wanganui_River

Loading up the canoes before setting off down the river. Photo taken by my mother.


The Early Days

I’m not exactly sure when I first got my hands on a paddle, but it was probably on the boating lake at Fantasyland in Hastings as a young child. They had kiddie canoes that you could hire for a paddle around the lake that formed the moat for Fantasyland’s signature castle. They were made of fibreglass and shaped sort of like “Indian” canoes with turned up ends and you paddled them with a wooden zero offset paddle (in those day “proper” paddles had a 90° offset). We had fun in the and occasionally resorting to horseplay such as splashing or ramming into other canoes.

My family also used to rent a batch at Waipatiki Beach, which had an old row boat and a heavy wooden skiff stored in the garage. We used to paddle down the small river to the lagoon by the beach and when we got our own canoe, we paddled down in that too. Eventually we had two long fibreglass two-person canoes which we would strap to the roof rack using a range of bungy cords and rope. We paddled these on various lakes and rivers around Hawkes Bay.

Canoeing_on_the_Tukituki_River

Paddling down the Tukituki River with my two brothers in our canoes. Ironically, we probably paddled past what is now my parents farm at Undercliff. Photo taken by my mother.

We also did a little bit of kayaking in Scouts, this mainly involved paddling Alphas around on Lake Tutria. One of our stunts involved doing Eskimo rolls, these involved tipping the kayak upside down and then bailing out (we knew it was possible to roll them upright, but just didn’t have the faintest idea how to actually do it). Some times we would deliberately tip the kayaks over in the middle of the lake, which then involved a big swim back to shore.

1981 Canoeing_in_Western_Australia

1981 Paddling a Canadian canoe near Albany in Western Australia. Photo taken by my mother.