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.
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.