River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 42 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2+(3), water clear.
Weather Conditions: Cold, strong gusty NW winds.
Number on Trip: 9 (6 doing Maori Gully) kayakers.
Time on River: 3 hours.
Comments: The official club trip for the weekend and it was off to the Hurunui. The weather looked ok despite the promise of strong winds in the afternoon. The wind was already blowing hard and cold, straight off the snow clad mountains, when we got there. A double shuttle was required as Matt and Tori just planned to do Gully runs while the rest of us paddled down from Jollie Brook. This time we put in at the camping area, rather than at the swing bridge and thus got to run the entire Jollie Brook rapid, which was pretty bouncy with 42 cumecs. The water was icy cold and I once again appreciated my new gear and the additional polar fleece layer under my dry top.
We had a strong group and spent a reasonable amount of time catching eddies and playing. On the long straight below Jollie Brook, we noticed a lone kayaker behind us and assumed it was a member from another group as all our paddlers were accounted for. So it was somewhat of a surprise to have Tori catch up with us after just a single Gully run, Matt having decided to head back to town due to the strong winds and other commitments. We carried on down to Devil’s Fang Falls, which we’d looked at on the way up. It had seemed ok, with a clear path down the right hand side and I watched the others disappear from view over the horizon line, without any apparent dramas. On my turn, I slid down the tongue, smiled for John H, who has on the bank with his camera, braced at the bottom as I crossed the positively effervescent waters around base of the drop and joined the others. Ian had tipped in the foam and hadn’t been able to roll up right and had then swum, plus others had rolled too. So much for no dramas and after a short pause we carried on to Seawards, in to a strengthening and increasingly unpleasant wind.
Two of the group got out at Seawards to run the shuttle and after a snack and a stretch of the legs for some, it was off into Maori Gully with a now gale force wind at our backs. There was a brief play at the Magic Roundabout, but I chose not to join the fun due to the wind, the cold and the boisterous flow, then past Simon’s hole where one of the guy who hadn’t paddled the Hurunui before, casually boofed the hole before paddling hard to escape its’ clutches. The two boulder gardens slid by, then down the Elevator and on to Cheese Grater, which at this flow was a smooth chute with several large standing waves at the end. The corner rapid was pretty big too.
A brief play at the Pop Up Spot for some and then down to the get out, with a dry head and dry feet, just the way I like it. My kayak was still nice and dry inside when Jim helped me out and even the climb up the hill didn’t seem so bad. It was nice to get in to dry clothes and out of the wind (which did provide the bonus of keeping the sand flies away). Drove back to town via a beer at Brew Moon, feeling somewhat tired after a busy weekend of paddling.