Monthly Archives: November 2013

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