River: Rangitata River, South Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 68 cumecs at Klondyke, water cold, slightly discoloured and swift. Grade 2+.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm with nor-west winds.
Number on Trip: 9 on grade 2 section, 3 on the grade 4 section.
Time on River: 3 hours
Comments: As no trip leader had volunteered and it looked like the trip was going to be changed to a Hurunui trip, I stepped in as trip leader. Everyone arrived promptly at the Caltex in Hornby and we divided up into four cars before realising that there were only three paddlers doing the grade 4 section and thus only three potential shuttle drivers. We quickly reassigned people and compressed down to three cars before heading off at 8:20am. It’s a long drive to the Rangitata but the roads are good and the trip takes around two hours. After a brief hunt for public toilets that weren’t locked, we arrived at the Rangitata Rafts and the grade 4 group drove to the gorge put in with a shuttle driver, while the rest of us got changed and enjoyed the sunshine. Once the vehicle arrived back, we drove down the Klondyke put in and were soon on the water.
The water was pretty swift and covered most of the boulders in the rapids, forming plenty of small holes to surf as you made your way down. There were also plenty of nice wave trains to bounce down. It was great to be out on the river on such a beautiful day, though at first I thought I was possibly wearing too many layers and ended up working up quite a sweat, until the chilly Rangitata waters cooled me down.
About half way down, some boulder groynes, which had been built to reduce erosion of the river left bank, formed some nice features the play on and we spent some time enjoying them. Everyone had a bit of a go and there were no dramas and everyone stayed in their boats and generally upright.
We had a brief stop a little bit further down and while the others stretched their legs, I stayed in my boat and had a bit of a surf on a couple on nice little holes, before joining them for a bite to eat. A little further on, we came upon a particularly nice wave to surf and a queue formed, with everyone waiting their turn to try some moves. It reminded me of my early days with the club when play-boating was all the rage. Mainly just surfing today (no Space Godzilla’s here) but there were some good rides to be had and everyone really had a lot of fun.
With all the surfing and eddy hopping I was feeling a bit worn out by the time the Red Shed that marked the get out, came into view. The last rapid was a lot of fun, a long, bouncy set of wave trains with some nice surfable waves, some of which were quite big, it was a nice way to finish the trip. We had a good day on the river, no swims and everybody made their rolls. Our vehicles were waiting at the get out and then we drove to the Peel Forest Cafe for the drink and a catch up with the grade 4 paddlers. Debbie B had driven up from Geraldine hoping to catch the group before we got on the river, but unfortunately arrived a little late for a paddle but still managed a drink and a chat. The grade 4 guys had no dramas and we swapped stories in the bar before driving back to Christchurch, feeling tired but satisfied.