Monthly Archives: January 2019

27th January 2019: Hurunui River

Date:    27/01/19
River:    Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:   42.5 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2 – 3, water swift & slightly discoloured.
Weather Conditions:  Overcast & cool, with strong north westerly winds.
Number on Trip:   15 kayakers (11 doing Maori Gully).
Time on River: 
4 hours
Comments:  With Tekapo running, a number of club members head down to enjoy the course and run the Pukaki River as well. For those that remained in Christchurch, Blair organised a trip to the Hurunui. The weather was looking hot and someone suggested that there wouldn’t be any winds, though when the Met Service site was checked, gale force nor-westerlies were predicted. We met up at The Peg and sorted out vehicles, one group didn’t know where they were going so planned to follow us in John Rs’ car but seemed to get lost on route.

An eel at Jollie Brook.

We arrived at the Maori Gully take out and there was no one waiting so we carried on to Seawards and got changed before carrying on to the Jollie Brook put in. There was further confusion with one group heading up to the Sisters Stream put in, the on / off shuttle with one vehicle heading off with the pack raft on board. We put on the river around 11am to have a warm up while we waited for the shuttle to be run and for everything to be sorted out. I spotted a largish eel swimming close to the bank and managed to get a quick underwater photo of it before it disappeared down into the depths.

Chatting at Jollie Brook, while waiting for the trip to officially start.

Eventually everyone arrived back, sorted out their gear, got on the river and we were away a little before 12pm.

Playing on the Jollie Brook section.

At around 43 cumecs, the rapids down from Jollie Brook were lots of fun, with most of the rocks covered and plenty of bouncy rapids and small waves to surf on. It was a good warm up and I found it very enjoyable to work my way down the river, often backwards, from eddy to eddy, wave to wave.

Carving it up.

We had a fairly large group and we got quite spread out at times, but there didn’t seem to be any dramas. I didn’t witness any swims and every time I saw people upside down, it was followed by a roll.

More play on the Jollie Brook section.

Once through the boulder gardens, the river passes through a series of gorges on its’ way down the confluence with the South Branch. The gorges sheltered us from some of the winds but at times, gusts threaten to push us over and it was just a matter of keeping your paddle low and trying to keep your balance.

Rock splat!

There are some nice rapids on the Jollie Brook section and plenty of fun to be had, but eventually we reached the South Branch confluence and the river open up, exposing us to the increasingly strong winds.

Sheralee making the moves in a pack raft.

Sheralee borrowed one of Hughs’ pack rafts and really put it through its’ paces. Having thigh braces fitted to the pack raft meant that she was able to pull some tight turns and exert some very kayak like control over the raft. Quite impressive for something so light and easily portable.

Running Devils’ Fang Falls.

We discussed lines for running Devils’ Fang Falls, John R suggested aiming for the highest point of the wave above the drop on the river right and then straight down the tongue, as at this flow most of the rock would be covered. This seemed to be more or less the line that everyone took, I had to bit of a brace at the bottom to stay upright and everyone else seemed to manage with similar results. John R had a good play on the wave above the drop before carrying on down, enjoying it so much he carried his boat back up to run it again.

Ians’ new boat at Devils’ Fang Falls.

Taking good photographs at Devils’ Fang Falls was pretty tricky as the strong winds kept whipping spray into the camera lens and the increased flows meant that kayakers were moving swiftly, but still managed to get the odd good shot.

Chris in his open canoe shows how it is done.

It was good to see such a variety of river craft on the trip, with Sheralee in a pack raft, Chris is his huge open canoe, as well as a wide variety of kayaks from RPMs, Axioms, play boats, rarer creek boats and even Ian Fs’ new slalom inspired 303.

Playing below Dozy Stream.

We spent a bit of time surf on the wave below the Dozy Stream put in, always a good location for photos, then on down to Seawards. The wind was being to blow harder and we just focused to getting down the river, with a lot less play, it was still fun but you definitely had to keep your paddle low.

At Seawards, some of the group got out to run the shuttle while the rest continued on through Maori Gully. The wave train was great and bouncy, the wind knocked some of the fun out of the Magic Roundabout, but some people were keen to have a play, cutting back and forth between the rocks and eddies, and riding up on the pillow at the base of the bluff. Kerry encouraged Ruth, who had swapped boats with Kerry, to push through Simons’ Hole without any drama and John R choose to give it a surf, but almost got caught on exiting.

Worked our way down the boulder gardens and past Bum Rock. The Elevator was pretty good, with people choosing to run it either side of the rock in the centre. As usually there were a few nerves around Cheese Grater, but with the higher flow it was pretty straight forward, running it just right of centre, heading to the right. I went down the tongue and then straight of the top of a pretty big wave at the bottom of the drop, I’m pretty sure I got some air off that. No were good for me to pull over to, so no photos.

On down through the corner rapid, where some of the group had a bit of a surf on the wave, but it gets a bit hard to get on it and stay there at this flow. The next stop was the Pop Up Spot and a few pop ups where attempted to varying degrees of success, the rounded bows of RPMs seem to spill too much water to really work well. Off down the last few rapids to the get out and then the dreaded hike up the hill, before packing up and heading back to town.

13th January 2019: Hurunui River

Date:    13/01/19
River:    Hurunui River, North Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:   25 Cumecs at Mandamus. Grade 2 – 3, water swift, cool & clear.
Weather Conditions:  Overcast & cool, with strong north westerly winds.
Number on Trip:   17 kayakers (10 doing Maori Gully).
Time on River: 
3.5 hours
Comments:  Although it was in the WWCC trip calendar, nothing had really been organised as there was no trip leading or meeting time. Checking Facebook brought up the details of a proposed trip and so we loaded up the car and got down to The Peg by 9am. Chris and Helen were fitting in a final New Zealand kayaking trip before heading off on a big overseas experience, and so the trip was not an official WWCC trip. I got a ride with Mike up to the Maori Gully take out, where we worked out the trip details. The wind was blowing strongly and so the original plan of putting in at Jollie Brook was changed in favour of putting in at South Branch. So it was back into the vehicles and off the South Branch, pausing only for a brief look at Devils’ Fang Falls to check the lines. We we got changed and the drivers ran the shuttle, while the rest of us enjoyed a chat and some lunch.

Warming up on South Branch.

The wind wasn’t as strong at put in but it was still fairly cool, but once on the river we soon warmed up. The South Branch down to the confluence provided a nice practice section, to awaken skills and to remind me that I can actually paddle. From the confluence, the volume increased but at 25 cumecs, the Hurunui is still fairly cruisy, though the strong winds battered us a little. Not much in the way of major rapids in this section but we took the opportunity to practice moves whilst pondering what to do when we reached Devils’ Fang Falls at Dozy Stream. I wasn’t that keen on the normal right hand line as it was looking quite tight and any mistakes at the top might have resulted in some nasty rock interactions. I decided to take the left hand channel with everyone else, but instead of getting out to portage, I’d drop down on the far side of the rapid, coming below the main rapid. This was the theory away, instead I dropped down a little earlier than planned and found myself looking down into a narrow slot of boiling white water. As I was committed, the only way out was forward and so forward I went.

Devil’s Fang Falls.My line was just above the centre of the photo.

I kept a pretty straight line through the middle, with water spilling down all around me, pushing the tail down and me against the back deck. The boat went down deep, whilst remaining almost vertical, apparently disappearing completely from view for a few seconds before shooting out at the bottom of the rapid in a white maelstrom. I let out a loud “woo hoo!” and paddle out of the rapid feeling exhilarated and a little more confidant in my paddling abilities. Sergio was the only other kayaker to run the rapid, using the more usual right hand line, while the rest of the group portaged down the left hand side.

Chris pulls some moves.

Past Dozy Stream, we stopped at the wave play spot and much playing was done. I always find this spot a little intimidating as it is just above a bluff where I’ve had the odd swim in the past, so I mainly stuck to taking a few photos. From here on, we made our way down to Seawards, generally taking it fairly easy.

Helen in Maori Gully.
Surfing in Maori Gully.

At Seawards, part of the group got out to run the shuttle and the rest of us continued on through Maori Gully. The wave train down to the Magic Roundabout was nice and bouncy. A few people chose to have a play on the Magic Roundabout, bouncing between the various rocks and eddies, and riding the pillow at the base of the bluff. On past Simon’s Hole, where Chris had a bit of a surf, something I’d never seen before. Occasionally I’ve seen other kayakers flirt with the hole, playing around the margins, but Chris was having a good play without any dramas, I wasn’t keen to follow suit though.

Running Cheese Grater.
Post Cheese Grater, some people make it look easy.

On down through the boulder garden and then down the Bum Rock rapid, took an interesting line and slid between a couple of holes without any dramas. The Elevator was all good and then on to Cheese Grater. The odd person chose to portage on the left hand side but some people ran it right of centre without any dramas. Last time I ran it, there were quite a few rocks below the surface on the right hand side and the undercut on the left hand side, so I ran a fairly central line down the tongue, pointing to the right, with a reasonable amount of speed to punch through the wave at the bottom. All went well and I pulled into the eddy near the bottom to take photos.

Lining up to drop in to surf the wave at the Corner Rapid.
Surfing on the Corner Rapid wave.
Chris shows what you can do in a Blitz Special.

The corner rapid was good and the hole at the bottom provided some great surfing opportunities for those who could get on it. We had a brief stop at the Pop Up Spot and had a little play, even I gave it a go and didn’t do too badly, while those in larger volume boats struggle to get lift off. From here it was down to the get out, a little more play at the get out before trudging up the hill and then home via the Brew Moon for a beer. Definitely need to work on my fitness as I am now pretty sore and tired.

Queuing at the Pop Up Spot.