River: Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions: 36 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2 to 3, water clear.
Weather Conditions: Sunny, warm with NW winds, occasional strong gusts.
Number on Trip: 20 kayakers (19 doing Maori Gully, 3 sat out but gained 2 extra).
Time on River: 2.5 hours.
Comments: This was my first trip of the season and the first time I’d been out in my kayak in a while. After some debate, we decide to put in at South Branch to give the newer paddlers more of a run. It was great to be back on the water and even better was that I still remembered how to paddle, though I was a little nervous as we approached Devil’s Fang Falls.
It had been a while since I had been over Devil’s Fang Falls at anything much over 20 cumecs and so it was a little strange to find that the right hand chute wasn’t quite so clear and I slightly muffed the line, bouncy over some of the rocks at the top rather than sliding smoothly down the tongue. Still no dramas and my confidence felt bolstered by the experience.
Just down from the Dozy Stream put in is a short rapid with a nice surf wave just before the current runs into a bluff with a small eddy just above it. Bill ended up in this eddy and then tipped against the bluff (as many others have done in the same location before) whilst I was taking photos further upstream. Two other kayakers promptly broke out to attempt a rescue by sitting their kayaks on top of his upturned boat until he bailed out and then they helped him recover his boat.
A few of the less confidant paddlers got out at Seawards but most of us continued on through Maori Gully (I was feeling reasonably confidant by this stage).
Murray helped guide the members of our small group that were new to the Gully down the rapids without much drama. On Cheese Grater Murray took a centre left line without a problem however one of the newer paddlers followed his lead and found himself pushed hard left into the undercut rock and was soon out of his boat. Took chase, taking my preferred right of centre line and both paddler and boat were soon on shore, albeit on different banks. Fortunately another kayaker, whose own boat had headed down stream without him, was able to paddle it over for us. His boat was recovered further down stream and so this all ended well.
The rest of the gully went well and I was pretty exhausted by the time we reached the take out and the walk out hadn’t got any less steep, even if the new steps did make it a more pleasant climb. A relaxing wait in the sun while the shuttle was run, then off to the renamed Brew Moon (now called Copper Road Cafe) then back to town.