10th January 2021: Hurunui River

Date:   10/01/2021
River:    Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:  27 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2 – 3, water swift & clear.
Weather Conditions: Overcast with sunny spells, westerly winds, strong at times.
Number on Trip:  18 kayakers, 2 packrafts (10 kayakers doing Maori Gully).
Time on River: 
4 hours
Comments:  My first trip of the new year was scheduled to be a run down the Hurunui. The weather looked promising and the flow was around 30 cumecs, making for a pleasant, cruisy trip. There was a light drizzle as I loaded the boat on roof rack, but this looked to clear and by the time I reached Belfast, early for once, it was looking to be a nice day. I hitched a ride with Sally, another geologist working for Tonkin & Taylor, and two pack rafters, for the trip up to the put in.

We got changed at Seawards, looking at the ground I noticed a couple of shell casings. I picked them up and they appeared to be 9mm blanks, which was quite interesting as most firearms chambered for 9mm are either pistols or a few, now prohibited, semi-automatic rifles, though they may have been from a specifically blank firing pistol rather than a pistol firing blanks.

We left a vehicle at Seawards and drove up to Jollie Brook, which was busy with paddlers sorting out their gear. We divided up into three groups and hit the water.

Ollie leads the group down the Jollie Brook section.

I ended up in the first group, which had a number of newer paddlers and we made our way down the boulder gardens, catching eddies and surfing on the small waves. Having a number of newer paddlers, there was less playing so we moved pretty quickly, so less opportunities for taking photos.

Packrafts are fun and can certainly handle whitewater.

Had a brief play around at the Mezzanine before a “lunch” stop at the confluence with the South Branch before carrying on downstream.

A lunch stop at the South Branch confluence.

Brief discussions above Devil’s Fang Falls, with some of the group deciding to avoid it by portaging down the left hand side. The rest of us ran it down the usual far right channel without any drama, and another paddler dropped down staircase on the left channel as well.

Playing around on Devil’s Fang Falls.

There was a little bit of play in the foam and I took the opportunity to get some “water” themed photos for this years’ Water New Zealand photo competition. I didn’t win last year, but did manage to get a photo of the Hope River on the cover of their bi-monthly journal.

Breaking out for a surf.

Played around at the wave below the Dozy Stream put in, which is always popular, before carrying on down to Seawards.

A bit over half the group chose to run Maori Gully, a bounce down the wave train, a quick play on the Magic Roundabout, avoid Simons Hole, down the boulder garden, past Bum Rock, no dramas on the Elevator and a little air and a lot of water on Cheese Grater (though no ones cheese got grated).

Cheese Grater! Maybe a little far to river left…

A visiting American paddler took an interesting line on the Corner Rapid and dropped into one of the holes, causing a little surprise but no real hassle.


We had a bit of a play one the wave at the bottom of the rapid and I got some nice photos, including experimenting with taking photos underwater.

The hole at the end of the corner rapid certainly provides a good surf, if you can get on & manage to stay there.

A brief go on the Pop Up Spot, though I didn’t feel like tipping over, so I kept it pretty tame. On to the take out and the trudge up the hill to the vehicles. We stopped off at the Brew Moon in Amberley for an after paddle drink, before heading back to town.