Monthly Archives: December 2005

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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Punching through the hole. Photo by PhotoChick.

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Good, strong brace. Photo by PhotoChick.

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Avoid or push through the hole? Photo by PhotoChick.

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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).