Monthly Archives: November 2015

22nd November 2015: Hurunui River

Date:    22/11/15
River:    Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:   31 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2 to 3, water clear.
Weather Conditions:  Sunny, warm with strong Westerly winds.
Number on Trip:    16 kayakers (8 doing Maori Gully).
Time on River:  4 hours.
Comments:   This weeks club trip was down the Hurunui from Jollie Brook to Seawards and on through Maori Gully. It was also one of the first club trips for this years new beginners.

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Thomas practices his roll at Jollie Brook.

We put in at Jollie Brook and spent a little time warming up ferry gliding, catching eddies, surfing and generally enjoying ourselves before setting off downstream. It was good to see the range of kayakers from old hands like Bob and even a clean shaven Denis, still making moves with his play boat into his seventies, Andre paddling a slalom boat plus the beginners testing their new found skills on the rivers.

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Warming up at Jollie Brook.

There was plenty to do, eddies to catch, waves to play and rapids to run, there was also a surprising lack of swimmers, an indication that the club training methods had improved considerably since I learned to paddle, even the few that tipped just rolled up again, impressive. At Devil’s Fang Falls, the groups split as those not wishing to run it, took the left channel and portaged the rapid. Those hazarding “The Fang” suffered no harm or dramas, and Andre and I had a brief play in the foam at the base.

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Andre below Devil’s Fang Falls in his slalom boat.

At Seawards, half the group got out to run the the shuttle, while the rest carried on down the Gully. Thomas choose to do Maori Gully for the first time, with Bob and I providing some guidance and advanced warnings on what to expect.

20151122 Hurunui River 159 (low res)

Thomas on his first descent of Maori Gully.

There were no real dramas and the odd time that Thomas found himself upside down, he quickly righted himself using a solid roll courtesy of the New Zealand Kayak School. Cheese Grater was particularly steep and you went a long way down before shooting up a quite massive wave (assuming you took the centre right line so as not to be shunted sideways to the undercut rock on the left). I took a spill here as I came off the wave but quickly rolled up on my first attempt and was pretty happy with that.

The corner rapid was fairly boisterous and I’m not really sure I have a good route through it as I have been tending to punch through the odd hole that I’ve accidentally fallen into. We had a brief play at the Pop Up Spot, where those in creek boats demonstrated why it is more fun to paddle a play boat. On to the take out and off to Cooper Road for a beverage and debrief before heading home for a well deserved fish & chips, shower and a nice rest.

7th November 2015: Rangitata River

Date: 7/11/15
River: Rangitata River, South Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 63 cumecs at Klondyke, water cold, slightly discoloured and swift. Grade 2+.
Weather Conditions: Cool, low cloud with easterly winds.
Number on Trip: 10
Time on River: 4 hours
Comments: A Saturday trip this weekend and it’s off to the Rangitata for a change. The weather looked good as we left Christchurch but as we got further south and moved inland, low, grey clouds descended. Nine kayakers headed out from Christchurch and we met up with Hugh at the Peel Forest cafe, who was planning to put aside his inflatable toys and get back in a “proper” kayak again. We got changed at the get out and left Hugh’s car with our dry gear and drove up to Klondyke, pausing briefly to pass on our paddling intentions to the rafting company.

The river was cold but a number of people did practice rolls before going over the weir and down the first rapid. As usual with this section of the Rangitata, there were plenty of boulder gardens with eddies to catch and nice waves to play on. Being a bit out of practice and having let my fitness slide somewhat, this made for a fun but tiring time.

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Em runs another rapid.

At one of the bigger rapids, I got my angles wrong near the end of a large wave train and tipped over, my first roll attempt didn’t quite come off and opening my eyes under water, I caught glimpses of boulders flashing by in the shallow water. Not wanting to have a “rock versus face” interaction, I decided to pull the deck rather than set up for another roll. A short swim, towing my through the cold water to shore followed, water was emptied out of my kayak and I was soon back on the water.

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Happiness is catching a good wave.

Further down stream, there is an area where the river was steadily eating away at the left bank, consuming the farmer’s fences and fields. To prevent this natural erosion of his land values, he had built a series of large boulder groynes and these have formed some nice play waves and we spent some time surfing the second and largest one of these.

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A great new play spot, thanks to river protection works.

We stopped of “lunch” on a sandy beach before carrying on, our group of 10 paddlers getting quite spread out at times. More rapids followed, though the amount of playing dropped off as cold and weariness caught up with us.

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What you can’t see, can’t hurt you.

Eventually the last rapid before the take out was reached and we bounced our way down, trying to make the most of the fun ride before our time on the river came to an end.

The shuttle was run, boats loaded on to vehicles and gear packed away before driving back to town with Phil and more discussion of geology, geologists and the job market.