River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 43 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2 to 3, water clear.
Weather Conditions: Warm with strong Westerly winds.
Number on Trip: 4 kayakers (3 doing Maori Gully).
Time on River: 2.5 hours.
Comments: With no local trip organised Thomas sent out an email and organised a Hurunui trip and short notice. Four of us turned up at the Belfast Tavern’s carpark, loaded up the boats and head off to the hills. We put in on the South Branch with the intention to paddle to Seawards and on through Maori Gully.
I was pretty worn out and beat from a long, tiring week at work and wasn’t feeling up to much. Thomas took a roll on a messy eddy line near the start and got washed into a bluff. He tried to roll again but was being held against the bluff and so he bailed out. His paddle was left circulating in the eddy, while Aaron & I set off in pursuit of his boat. We soon had paddler and kayak reunited, while we waited for the paddle to appear, eventually John R appeared with it in tow, having been sorting out his contact lenses whilst this minor drama unfurled.
With a bit more flow than the previous trip, the river was swifter and a bit pushier, making some of the waves a little harder to catch. I was a little nervous about Devil’s Fang Falls (as always) but I manged to slide smoothly down the tongue on the right hand side and floated across the foam at the bottom, sweet. The rapid below the Dozy Stream put in had formed a particularly nice surf wave at this flow and despite some initial apprehension, I had some great surfs on it. Basically once you were on it, you could just sit the and carve back & forth across its’ face with only minimum paddle strokes to keep you there.
We met up with a group of kayakers from the UCCC at the Seawards put in. Thomas had decided not to paddle Maori Gully so he drove one of the UCCC vehicles to the Maori Gully take out, while the rest of us carried on down stream. The Magic Roundabout was crowded so after John & Aaron had a bit of a play, we carried on, bypassing Simon’s’ hole. With the extra water, the drops were not quite so large but some of the holes were bigger and best avoided. Cheese Grater was smoother than the previous trip and went without a hitch. I did take a dunking while surfing a feature but quickly rolled upright on the first go, so was pretty pleased with that.
We stopped at the Pop Up spot and John R demonstrated his flat spin and encouraged us to give it ago, which to my surprise didn’t result in me spending time upside down but actually smiling as I managed to pull off the move multiple times whilst keeping my hair dry.
Then on down to the take out with the hike up the hill, made a lot easier with the new stairs. We chatted with the UCCC kayakers (who incidentally had brought along 2 crates of bottled, post paddle supplies) while we waited on shuttle to be run, before heading to Copper Road (where the waitress was surprised to see us in on a Saturday) for our post paddle debrief (which was different from the somewhat tipsy bridal party’s actual debrief, which I missed) and then on home.