Monthly Archives: November 2012

2012 Kayaking Season

Date: 11/11/12
River: Rangitata River, South Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 104 cumecs at Klondyke, water cold, slightly discoloured and swift. Grade 2+.
Weather Conditions: Overcast and cool, followed by heavy rain, hail and lightning.
Number on Trip: 7 on grade 2 section, 7 on the grade 4 section.
Time on River: 3.25 hours
Comments: It was decided that the Orari River flow was too low and so the trip was to the lower Rangitata combined with another group doing the grade 4 gorge section. I had been such a long time since I’d paddled the section (and even longer for Matt), I had to look up the details from an earlier trip in 2006 to find out where the take out was. 100 cumecs was a good flow, with plenty of holes of various sizes forming behind boulders, eddies to catch and some nice wave trains. Our group had a good range of skills and it was good to have Stu along (after he decided not to run the gorge), as he was able to provide some coaching to the newer paddlers, as well as the odd rescue.

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The group makes its way down a nice rapid.

No real dramas, just a few swims with the kayaker hanging on to their gear for an easy tow to the shore. This section is quite nice for beginners as there are nice flat stretches below each rapids for the recovery of swimmers. The other newer paddler managed to keep herself out of trouble with some nice rolls.

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Where’s the paddler gone?

The river was pretty cold and I paddled reasonably hard and was pretty cold and tired by the time we reached the take out at the Rat House (what the building I thought was the OPC is apparently called). Our vehicles and dry gear were waiting, courtesy of the other group. As we got changed the sky darkened and by the time we were fastening down the last boat to Matt’s car, the skies opened up and it bucketed down. Lightning and hail accompanied us to the Peel Forest Store, where we hid from the rain, enjoying some hot food and cold drinks, before heading back to town.


Date: 7/10/12
River:
Waiau River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
94 to 84 cumecs (falling) at Marble Point. Water discoloured, cold & swift. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny, NE light winds.
Number on Trip:
5 people.
Time on River:
4.5 Hours.
Comments:
Earlier in the week an email was sent round saying that some interest had been expressed about a grade 2 trip down the lower Waiau to coincide with the club’s grade 3 to 4 overnight trip down the upper Waiau, all the trip needed was a leader to organise it. I tentatively volunteered as the alternative was no trip and no kayaking for that weekend. The trip was arranged but the river levels were looking a bit high on Saturday with the flow peaking at almost 250 cumecs, a trifle high for a grade 2 focused trip. Fortunately the flow seemed to be dropping and with fine weather forecast for Sunday, it was all systems go. By Sunday morning the flow had dropped to 98 cumecs so it was off to the Belfast Tavern to see who would turn up. I didn’t recognise anyone but we had a reasonable range of skill levels so after some basic introductions, boats were loaded up and it was off to the take out point.

At the take out point, the river looked swift and brown but manageable. We picked a suitable get out point to avoid any drama around the irrigation intake, got changed while Rory loaded our boats on to his vehicle for the drive up to the put in (it was nice to have a big set of roof racks and only 5 paddlers to make the shuttle nice and easy). Leaving James’s car with the dry gear at the take out, we drove up to the picnic area on the Hanmer River. There was sufficient water in the Hanmer River to allow us to float down to the Waiau and avoid carrying our boats too far.

The Waiau was flowing fairly swiftly and was quite boily in places, especially around the bluffs. We managed to get past the first bluff (an old nemesis from my beginner days) and under the Hanmer bridge but shortly after Madi tipped up on a particularly boily corner and was out of her boat. She held on to her gear and James soon had her in tow and back to the shore. Once back in her boat, she paired up with James (a CPIT Outdoor Education student) so he could provide on the river coaching, which worked out great with no further swims.

The larger rapid on the way down to Marble Point was partially washed out and had a nice chicken route down the right hand side but was still fairly exciting. Matt, James and I had a bit of fun ferry gliding across the rapid but it was a bit swift to get any surfing in. A jet boat roared past when we were out of the way and didn’t even look in our direction, though on their way back up the river, one of the passengers did manage to return a wave.

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Jet boat heads back up stream through rapids.

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Matt rounds Marble Point.

We stopped at Marble Point for some lunch and some slightly water logged and a trifle slimy, gummy snakes thanks to Matt, then back on the river again. It was nice to be out on the river on such a sunny day and the raised flow kept us moving along nicely even through the flat sections. The flow also created some new features while washing out others. Shark’s Tooth approached and the group scouted the rapid and watched while I ran it. No dramas here and everyone got through safely and in an upright position. Madi tipped when we rejoined the main flow but stayed in her boat for a T rescue, which was very well done.

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Madi & James on a wave train.

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Matt runs the Shark’s Tooth rapid.

The rest of the paddle was fairly relaxing but we were all a bit tired by the time the bridge by the take out appeared. We paddled/walked down the get out channel, which had less water in it than it appeared from the bank, but still it avoided trying to get out near the irrigation intake so that was good. It was nice to get changed and enjoy the sunshine while Matt and James ran the shuttle. A very pleasant day out and a big thank you to everyone involved.


Date: 29/9/12
River:
Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
40 cumecs at Mandamus. Water clear, cool and swift. Grade 2 (3).
Weather Conditions:
Nor-wester, warm and sunny.
Number on Trip:
5 people.
Time on River:
2 Hours.
Comments:
My first trip of the season and fitness and confidence wasn’t too high. We put in at Dozy Stream, with everyone except me paddling Devil’s Fang Falls, my lack of confidence meant I didn’t want to start the season with any chance of a little rock/face interaction. Kept things pretty low key as I eased back in to paddling, took a roll as I flushed out of the magic round-about, made it though the main rapids in Maori Gully but while playing around below the corner rapid, the last major rapid in the gully, I ended up upside-down. After several roll attempts I was too tired and out of breath so bailed out and had a swim down a flat section until, with Bob and Murray’s help I was able to get my boat to shore. Once I got my breath back, it was down to the get out with a couple of pop ups at the pop up spot on the way down. The climb up was gruelling but I was certainly glad I only had my 15kg Blitz and not Murray’s 30+kg creek boat. Had a nice sit in the sun while the shuttle was run, then back to town early via coffee at the Nor-wester. A nice ease in to the new season.


Date: 19/7/12
River:
Waimakariri River, Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
152 cumecs at the Waimakariri Old Highway Bridge. Water slightly discoloured, cool and swift. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:
Overcast but warmish.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on River:
1 Hour.
Comments:
Another training run down the Brass Monkey course after the 1333 cumec flow on the weekend. Was expecting a better time but in the end it took pretty much bang on 60 minutes to do the course. Stay close to the right bank for most of the course, some channels seem to have changed and some of the “sneaks” were working due to the higher flow. Was a nice paddle and didn’t feel too worn out afterward.


Date: 13/7/12
River:
Waimakariri River, Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
57 cumecs at the Waimakariri Old Highway Bridge. Water slightly discoloured, cool and swift. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:
Overcast, cool but with occasional warm NW winds.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on River:
1 Hour.
Comments:
Back out on the Waimak for a bit more training. This time a run down the Brass Monkey course with an eye out for shortcuts and to try out the channel I missed in the last race. This work out well, had a nice paddle and will definitely be taking the channel I missed in the next race, hopefully for a better time.


Date: 12/7/12
River:
Waimakariri River, Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
59 cumecs at the Waimakariri Old Highway Bridge. Water slightly discoloured, cool and swift. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny but cool, NE light winds.
Number on Trip:
1 person.
Time on River:
1 Hour.
Comments:
Lauri had me out doing laps from the State Highway 1 bridge to get me trained up for the next Brass Monkey race as she didn’t feel that my time was quite good enough, sub 60 minutes here we come.


Date: 22/4/12
River:
Waiau River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
28 cumecs at Marble Point. Water clear, cool and swift. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny but cool, NE light winds.
Number on Trip:
7 people.
Time on River:
4 Hours.
Comments:
I’d been looking forward to paddling the Waiau for a while but my being in NZ generally coincided with Hurunui River trips so I was definitely looking forward to a little variety. It was a beautiful sunny autumn day and although the river level was a low 28 cumecs, it promised to be a very pleasant day on the river. We had seven people on the trip, with John and Andre choosing the retro boat option.

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The put in.

We put in at the Hanmer River confluence and had a play about while the first half of the shuttle was run, and then it was off down the river. The river was low and this exposed a few more rocks and features that would have normally been washed out, the current was unexpectedly swift and pushy, causing a few surprises in places. The scenery was beautiful, the sun on the water, the worn surfaces of the rock, the blue sky and surrounding mountains. We caught eddies and surfed where ever the opportunity presented, getting some nice rides. Andre show some very nice slalom paddling moves in the club’s Reflex, it was nice to see an older boat, well paddled.

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Andre in the club’s Reflex, oops.

The cry of “jet boat” went up almost as soon as we reached the “crux” rapid, which is almost one of the best play spots on the river. We all got out the way and Graeme waved the jet boat down, then we all back to surfing. Everyone except Graeme and Sally Jane had a go and generally enjoyed themselves and got some good rides. Andre apparently banged his head a couple of times and was keen to name the rapid “Headbanger” on account of this, fortunately his helmet absorbed the impact and no damage was done. From here down to Marble Point, the flow slowed and rapids become smaller and less frequent. At Marble Point, we stop for a “lunch” break before carrying on down stream.

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Andre showing how to surf a retro boat.

From Marble Point, rapids became scarce and there was a lot of flat water to paddle. However the sun was out and it was nice just being on the river. Eventually we arrived at Shark’s Tooth. Graeme and Sally Jane had scouted the rapid while John had run it. I carried on down, bouncing off a few rocks in the rapid and then pulled in to a eddy to photograph the other paddlers as they ran the rapid. No drama here and then it was into the largely flat paddle out.

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Checking out Shark’s Tooth rapid.

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Running Shark’s Tooth rapid.

In one particularly wide spot, I ended up picking a braid that got too shallow to paddle, the others with me aborted sooner and made it back to deeper water but I persisted until I was well and truly stuck and had to get out and walk. I towed the boat back to the main channel but as the water was mainly flat and the take out was near, I just sat in the cockpit with my legs dangling over the front and paddled on like this.

Ahead I could see a number of kayakers standing on the bank, thinking this was the get out, I was a little confused as I got closer and noticed that people were standing on both sides of the channel. It turned out there was a number of trees in the river with the current flowing through them and although there was a 3m wide passage between them, most of the paddlers had decided to portage past it. After everyone was safely on the correct side to portage the hazard, I got into my boat and paddled safely between the trees, glad that I didn’t have my legs dangling. Then a sort run down to the take out, a clamber over a flood debris containing a dead cow and a leisurely change, warmed by the sun, while the shuttle was run.

We stopped in at the Hurunui Tavern for Graeme’s promised game pies, only to find that they were sourced from Christchurch and supply had dried up since the earthquakes, still the beer and wedges were good. Then back to Christchurch for a shower, pizza and a rest.


Date: 1/4/12
River:
Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
21 cumecs at Mandamus. Water clear, cool and swift. Grade 2 (3).
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and warm, light winds.
Number on Trip:
7 people.
Time on River:
3 Hours.
Comments:
This was a run from Dozy Stream, with a few paddlers running Devil’s Fang Falls (which was a little rocky due to the low flow), down through Maori Gully. A nice cruisy run with plenty of playing.

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Debbie does Devil’s Fang Falls…

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…and avoids the fang.

Above: Debbie does Devil’s Fang Falls.

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Lining up on Devil’s Fang Falls…

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… and avoiding the rocks at low flow.

Above: Avoiding the rocks in Devil’s Fang Falls at low flow.

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Running Maori Gully.

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Me breaking out of eddy in Maori Gully. Taken by Bob.


Date: 11/3/12
River:
Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
23 cumecs at Mandamus. Water clear, cool and swift. Grade 2 (3).
Weather Conditions:
Nor-wester tending to light southerly winds, warmish, cloudy with sunny spells.
Number on Trip:
14 people.
Time on River:
4 Hours.
Comments:
A fairly large group with plenty of newer paddlers. Paddled from Jollie Brook down to Seawards with the more confident paddlers running Maori Gully.

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Some paddlers choose to portage Devil’s Fang Falls.

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Showing the moves in Maori Gully.


Date: 12/2/12
River:
Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
17 cumecs at Mandamus. Water clear, cool and swift. Grade 2 (3).
Weather Conditions:
Sunny, occasional clouds, warmish.
Number on Trip:
20 people.
Time on River:
3 Hours.
Comments:
This was the introduction to Maori Gully trip for advance beginners and gully virgins. We put in at Dozy Stream, with the keen or foolhardy (at 17 cumecs it looked pretty boney) running Devil’s Fang Falls. I opted to stand on the bank and get some better photographs than I normally get sitting in my boat below the rapid. I did get my feet wet towing one kayaker in to a position that didn’t result in him running the drop backwards, after he got stuck in the eddy at the top of the drop. Most navigated the drop without much drama and I was rewarded with some nice pictures. The rest of the trip was fairly cruisy and there was too much drama in the gully.

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Running Devil’s Fang Falls at a low flow.

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Rescue time.

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Playing on the weir at the bottom of the corner rapid in Maori Gully.

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Surfing deep in the hole.

 Above: Playing on the weir at the bottom of the corner rapid in Maori Gully.

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Murray showing how it is done.

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Smile for the camera.

Above: More playing on the weir at the bottom of the corner rapid in Maori Gully.

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… and yet more playing on the weir at the bottom of the corner rapid in Maori Gully.


Date: 9/2/12
River:
Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
19 cumecs at Mandamus. Water clear, cool and swift. Grade 2 (3).
Weather Conditions:
Cool, cloudy, strong nor-easterly winds.
Number on Trip:
4 people.
Time on River:
2 Hours.
Comments:
This was a small mid week set of gully runs for those not working Monday to Friday jobs. A little nervous heading straight into the gully but things went reasonably well, though I added some scratches to my helmet after a roll on the escalator. The second run was better than the first but we were all too tired for a third one.

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Running Cheese Grater in Maori Gully.


Date: 6/2/12
River:
Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
21 cumecs at Mandamus. Water clear, cool and swift. Grade 2 (3).
Weather Conditions:
Cool, cloudy,    nor-easterly winds.
Number on Trip:
14 people.
Time on River:
4 Hours.
Comments:
A trip from Jollie Brook though Maori Gully. Spotted a stand up paddle surfer in Maori Gully and watched him run the Cheese Grater, sinking in the hole at the bottom and having to swim, pretty game for trying.

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The casual approach to paddling.

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A stand up paddle surfer running the Cheese Grater in Maori Gully.

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One stand up paddle board going down…


Date: 22/1/12
River:
Boyle River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
63 cumecs at Marble Point on Waiau and rising. Water clear, cool and swift. Grade 2.
Weather Conditions:
Cool, cloudy with sunny periods, southerly winds.
Number on Trip:
8 people.
Time on River:
3.5 Hours.
Comments:
The weather forecast wasn’t looking so good the night before and on the drive up we encountered a certain amount of rain, with more expected thanks to a southerly front that was working its’ way up the country. The weather eased up as we headed inland, with a light drizzle falling as we arrived at the turn off to the Boyle River Outdoor Education Centre. As we got changed, the sky cleared and the sun came out, hooray for blue skies!

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Heading down the Boyle to the Lewis confluence.

The first part of the paddle was a little bony but with swiftly moving and crystal clear water taking us past some beautiful scenery, there was nothing to complain about. When we got near the confluence of the Boyle with the Lewis River, we had a short walk across a gravel bar to get us into the main channel and from there, the water volume and level of white water fun increased with plenty of opportunities to catch eddies, surf holes and generally make the most of rapids.

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More water and fun after the Lewis confluence. Note the blue skies.

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A nice little hole to surf.

We had a brief stop for lunch/snacks somewhere not to far upstream from the usual put in, having been on the river for over an hour already. From the confluence with the Doubtful River, we picked up more water as it must have been raining in the Doubtful’s catchment and the river was running a bit cloudy. This extra water improved the later gorges and rapids, making for a slightly more technical grade 2+ paddle in places.

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Looking upstream in the first gorge.

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Looking upstream towards bridge that marks the exit from the first gorge.

The three gorges are all quite impressive with their sheer sides of water sculptured stone and have nice rapids in then, a sort of Ashley Gorge lite, which makes for an exciting trip for newer paddlers without too serious consequences.

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Running the second gorge.

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Impressive rock walls in the second gorge.

The third gorge wasn’t as hard as it used to be when I first did, the drop has leveled out making not quite as dramatic as it was in days of old. There are still a number of boulders to dodge and a choice of routes to take, and a poor choice for Matt the Younger led to a brief swim, the only one for the day. Finding the best place to get out led to a bit of confusion as Hugh led us into a wall of gorse and matagouri, fortunately Bruce appeared and showed us the way out. There was a bit of a walk to the car, but it was nice and flat with plenty of grass to drag the boat over. As we got changed and the shuttle was run, the sky began to darken as the promised southerly caught up with us. Lucky for us, the rain held off until we were all packed up and on our way home. A brief stop for coffee at the Red Rooster in Culverden and then off home after a fun and surprisingly sunny day in the hills.


Date: 8/1/12
River:
Hurunui River, North Canterbury, New Zealand.
River Conditions:
23 cumecs at Mandamus and rising. Water clear, cool and swift. Grade 2 (3).
Weather Conditions:
Cool, cloudy with rare sunny periods, easterly winds.
Number on Trip:
11 people.
Time on River:
3.25 Hours.
Comments:
This was my first kayaking trip of the year and I was really looking forward to getting out on the river. The flow was around 20 cumecs and I was expecting a cruisy trip down the river on a hot midsummer’s day. However when I exited the house, I felt the need to go back in and grab a jacket. The weather got increasingly grey and by the time we arrived at the Maori Gully take out to get changed, there was a light drizzle falling and it was fairly cold. We checked out the lines on Devil’s Fang Falls on the drive up to the Jollie Brook put in, it was looking pretty bony. The best line seemed to be to avoid the holes at the top of the drop, take the line down the right hand side and avoid the “fang” at the bottom.

Once on the water, it was a fairly sedate float down the river, catching the occasional eddy or surfing a small wave. The weather made me glad I was wear my poggees and I was pretty keen to stay right side up, though some of the other paddlers were keen to practice their rolls. It was nice being out on the river, surrounded by the mountains, I’ve missed be able to go kayaking regularly, what with my work schedules, earthquakes and all the other things that make up my life at the moment. Eventually we arrived at Devil’s Fang Falls and those who decided to walk it got out and the rest pulled into an eddy to take our turns. Debbie got caught on one of the holes above the drop and rolled but was able to get upright and in position to make the correct line. I got my turned, snuck between the holes, slid down the tongue and rode the buffer off the fang without any dramas and best of all, managed to keep my head dry!

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Looking back up a very bony looking Devil’s Fang Falls.

Graeme took a little swim just down from Dozy Stream (in the same place that Murray and I have swam in the not too distant past) and bruised his legs quite badly getting out of his boat. He was soon back in his boat but was feeling pretty cold and sore and decided to get out at Seawards with one of the newer paddlers, who had also had a few swims. Robin joins us here for the Gully run and we all took the chance to stretch our legs or eat some food. Maori Gully was pretty cruisy too, had a nice play on the Magic Roundabout but largely just ran the rapids. No real drama but there was a certain amount of nervousness approaching Cheese Grater, which now has a strong kick to the left. There was the odd mystery move as people missed the line (right of centre and heading right with the certain amount of speed). I found a little bit of a tongue and followed it down to the right and avoided the worst of the churning white water at the bottom.

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Debbie surfing the last big rapid in Maori Gully.

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John R gives a smile.

Sun was starting to peak through the clouds by the time we reached the take out and climbed up to the cars and it was a lovely day by the time we reached Waikuku for a BBQ at Robins place. I had to head home as I’d promised Lauri dinner at Pommeroy’s, which rounded off the day nicely.