River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 15.25 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+(3), water clear.
Weather Conditions: Sunny, warm with occasional NE winds.
Number on Trip: 8 (5 doing Maori Gully).
Time on River: 4 hours.
Comments: Having hardly paddled at all this year due to various other commitments and having not paddled the Hurunui River since February last year, it was great when Graeme organised a trip to take advantage of the fine weather (last weekend saw the tail of Cyclone Lusi bringing rain and high winds to Canterbury but not the expected flooding).
After meeting up at the Belfast Tavern, we were soon on our way up to the Jollie Brook put in. Fog shrouded the land from Weka Pass but cleared as we headed down towards the river. We paused to check out Devil’s Fang Falls, which at 15 cumecs was looking particularly bony. After removing a stick from near the bottom, Matt & I decided running it would be OK but everyone else thought the best route probably involved the road.
At the put in above the Jollie Brook rapid, we got changed and then waited while the shuttle was run. When the vehicle got back, Graeme noticed a hissing sound from one of the rear tyres as the air rapidly leaked out through a large hole with a chunk of rock stuck in it. The team soon gathered round and got the flat tyre swapped out and then it was in to our boats and away, while a group of rafters pumped up their rafts and ran through their pre-trip briefing.
The rafters past us at one of the early rapids as we stopped for a play and we followed them down the river towards the Dozy Stream put in. Most of the group got out on the river right above Devil’s Fang Falls, while the rafters portaged their rafts down the left hand bank. I carried on down, feeling a little apprehensive, and Matt eddied out at the top of the rapid. I wove my way through the holes above the main drop. On the water, the line looked pretty narrow with a number of folds and cross currents, however I was committed and down the chute I went. Things went a little pear shaped near the bottom and I ended up tipping and loosing a little skin on my hands as my paddle grazed along the “fang”. I rolled up promptly in the froth at bottom, eddied out and waved back to Matt. Matt came down without any dramas and we had a bit of a play while the others made their way down to the put in and the rafters relaunched their rafts.
After a short break and a bite to eat, we carried on down to Seawards without any dramas. The river had changed a bit over the last year and the entrance to what had in the past been the “Eddy of Doom”, was closed off and the river bypasses the previously fearsome bluff.
At Seawards, our group decreased in number and the second leg of the shuttle was run while the five remaining paddlers carried on through Maori Gully. With a low flow Maori Gully was pretty cruisy and we caught up with another group of paddlers that had just spent the day doing gully runs. Cheese grater was also particularly bony, with a number of visible rocks in the drop, the current also kicks left towards an undercut and so we ran it on the right, facing right. Tried out the pop up spot without much luck in the low flow and finally arrived at the take out absolutely exhausted. Got out, staggered up the hill and managed to be the last one out of their wet gear and into dry clothes. Then straight back to town and home, where I’m still feeling pretty sore several days later.