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.
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.
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.
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.
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.