Monthly Archives: October 2017

29th October 2017: Hurunui River

Date:    29/10/17
River:    Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:   47.7 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2 – 3, water clear.
Weather Conditions:  Warm and sunny with light north westerly winds.
Number on Trip:    33 kayakers, with a number doing Maori Gully
Time on River:  4.5 hours.
Comments:  This was my first white water trip of the season and it is already nearly November. As such we were treated to a beautiful warm and sunny day, a even the nor-wester wind Canterbury is known for, kept to a manageable strength.

Driving into the car park at the Belfast Tavern was a bit of a shock, there were cars, boats and paddlers everywhere. So many people I didn’t recognise, still managed to find some familiar faces, sign the trip sheet and get a ride sorted out, then off to Jollie Brook.

The put in at Jollie Brook.

At Jollie Brook, we sorted out our gear and enjoyed resting in the sun as the shuttle was sorted out. Once the drivers returned, we got on the water and had an extended warm up session at the put in. As there were so many paddlers, smaller groups formed and then made their way downstream with significant gaps in between.

Practicing the play moves.

I always enjoy the boulder garden stretch down from Jollie Brook, it is a great way to warm up and remember how to paddle after an absence from the river. Working your way down the small rapids, catching eddies and surfing from hole to hole, brings a lot of your paddling skills into play without being too challenging. We did have a swimmer and it is the first time in a while that I’ve rescued anyone, towing Brian down a small rapid to reunite him with his boat and paddle.

Styling a rapid.

The bigger rapids provided a bit more entertainment for the more experienced paddlers but everyone did well and there were no more swimmers and generally the only rolls were either for practice or play. We took our time on this section and really tried to get the most out of every rapid and feature.

Looking down the Hurunui Valley from the South Branch confluence.

We stopped for a lunch break at the South Branch confluence before continued on downstream. Devil’s Fang Falls was on my mind, I wasn’t sure how much it had changed since last season and we hadn’t stopped for a look at it on the way up. Brian mentioned that the preferred line was now on the left hand side, whereas in the past, I had always gone down the right side. As we approached the rapid, I was a little nervous as I was feeling a bit tired and unfit.

We all chose to run Devil’s Fang Falls and moved into to the right hand channel, pulling in to various eddies above the rapid. I watched the others go down, one by one, and made note of the lines they took. No one seemed to have any issues and all went down the left had side of the drop. I took my turn, working my way down the river until I was in the eddy just above the drop on the right hand side. Looking down stream, I could see that the line I would normally take was pretty messy and that there was a nice tongue a little left of centre, that should offer a good ride down and then you just needed to punch through the hole at the bottom and it should be all good. Of course, in order to do that, I needed to be on the other side of the channel. To do that I just needed to surf across the face of the first hole above the drop before turning down stream, pass the second hole and then down the tongue, what could possibly go wrong? Fortunately it all work and I made a pretty smooth descent and hit the smooth water below the drop and cut into the eddy. There were no issues in our group and we carried on down the river.

Chris makes the moves.

The trip down to Seaward’s was pretty cruisy as fatigue from a long day on the water set in. I also had to decide if I wanted to paddle Maori Gully, part of me was pretty tired and would have been happy to get out before the gully but another part thought it would be a shame not to. In the end, I decided it would be wrong not too and headed down into the gully with five other keen paddlers.

The Magic Roundabout was pretty boisterous and the two rocks in the middle were mostly covered so I opted not to have a spin. The first boulder garden was also a bit pushier than I expected, giving me a little start and prompting me to raise my game. On past bum rock and down the escalator and into the eddy above Cheese Grater with out any dramas, the higher flow making some of the larger features slightly easier.

Running Cheese Grater. The kayaker is actually at the top of the large wave that forms below the drop.

Cheese Grater always makes me a little nervous, especially since I’ve had the odd bit of “excitement” in previous years. I watched the others go down one by one, dropping over the edge, disappearing and then surging upwards as they crested the large wave at the bottom of the drop. No one seemed to have any problems and then it was my turn. I lined up to the left of centre, looking down the tongue, my kayaks bow pointing to the right, a bit of speed as I dropped over the edge, down and then up, the kayaks’ nose pushing through the waves crest, a refreshing drink for me as I passed through it. The rest was easy and I bombed the rest of the rapid, pulling into an eddy below the rest of the group.

Two kayakers who enjoyed running Cheese Grater so much they walked back up and did it again.

Two of the others decided to run Cheese Grater again, apparently to try and surf the wave. I also got out of my boat and walked back upstream a little to see if I could find a better spot to take photographs from. I usually shoot from my boat and this tends to limit my angles and what I can see. No really spectacular photos of their second run but it is nice to get a view of the rapid from downstream that isn’t obscured by the rocks that form the eddy on the right of the above photo.

The corner rapid in Maori Gully.

The corner rapid was pretty bouncy and I weaved my way around the various holes, the big wave at the bottom was working nicely and was able to be accessed from both sides so much surfing was done.

Surfing the wave on the corner rapid in Maori Gully, all smiles here.

More playing at the pop up spot and then on to the get out, followed by the traditional slog up the hill and then back to town.

29th September 2017: Avon River

Date:    29/09/17
Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
River Conditions:  
2.99 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:  
Sunny and warm, light nor-westerly wind.
Number on Trip:   
2 people.
Time on River:  
1.5 hours.
Comments:  It was a beautiful warm afternoon and Lauri suggested it would be a nice day to go for a paddle on the Avon. She also suggested it would be a great day to stop off at Pomeroy’s for a glass of beer and some pork crackling, something that usually gets thought of as we are on the river with no money or means to secure our kayaks.

We got dress in our paddling gear and dragged the kayaks down to the river. Lauri had checked out a nice launching spot, complete with steps cut into the back and a nice flat platform to launch from. I helped Lauri into her boat and then while she paddled off up the river, I tried to climb into mine from the bank. It was all getting a bit wobbly and I was looking at possibly ending up in the river if I continued down that path. In a switch of tactics, I seal launched off the steep bank, the nose of my kayak diving deeply in to the water, which swirled around my spray skirt.

I sped after Lauri and we were soon paddling in tandem up the river. The water was clear and it was lovely to be on the river with Lauri. Spring was bring the trees back to life and everything was green and bright in the sunshine. We were soon at the quake damaged wharf above the Fitzgerald Avenue bridge. We clambered out and padlocked the kayaks to a park bench and then wandered across the road in our paddling gear with our paddles.

Beer & pork scratchings at Pomeroy’s.

We found seats in the outdoor area and stored the paddles under the bench. I went in and order two dark beers and some pork crackling, and we were soon enjoying a tasty repast on a sunny afternoon. After we had finished, we strolled down to our kayaks and got back on the river for a relaxing paddle / float down the river towards home.

A leisurely trip home.