Monthly Archives: December 2019

22nd December 2019: Ashley River

Date:   22/12/19
Ashley River, Canterbury, NZ
River Conditions:  
12 cumecs at Ashley Gorge. Water slightly discoloured and cool. Grade 3.
Weather Conditions:  
Overcast, clearing to sunny & warm.
Number on Trip: 
Time on River: 
4.25 hours.
Comments:  With the Ashley running at around 12 cumecs,and fine weather forecast, Ian decide it would be a great day for a paddle. Unfortunately someone decided to park a fishing boat on Waimairi Beach, so Ian had to bail as duty called. There was a little delay as a result, but once we were all assembled at the camp ground, we soon had the shuttle sorted out and were off to the put in at the middle bridge..

John R shoots the gap.

We had a number of paddlers that hadn’t paddled this section before and the flow at only 12 cumecs provide a nice easy introduction while still offering plenty of fun.

A perfect play spot for making some moves.

The were plenty of good play spots and most of the team were keen to demonstrate their skills, make some moves, have some fun or just push their own personal boundaries.

AJ punches through.

There were very few dramas and it was great to be out on the river enjoying the sun and warm conditions. The rapids weren’t too pushy, but with enough water flowing through them to cover the rocks and provide some good lines with plenty of time to make decisions.

Making the moves.

The main drop in the gorge had a bit of a hole formed above it and it was interesting to see the various lines that people chose.

Matt runs the main drop in the Ashley Gorge.

Most avoided the hole and then ran the drop cleanly down the tongue or boofed off to the left.

Anna styling the main drop.

The line taken in the photo above was one of the more impressive, as Anna ran the drop almost sideways to flick around at the bottom to have a surf and catch the eddy. Some styling moves alright.

A splash of colour in the green of the Ashley Gorge.

The gorge was quite beautiful and it was great to be away from the city and all the pressures of life, especially with the lead up to Christmas, you could almost feel the stress melt away with the warm sunshine.

More moves from Anna at the play spot.

We took our time and really enjoyed all the neat play spots the river had on offer.

Nicole enjoys a good surf.

It is a real pleasure to be on the river and to see everyone having fun and enjoying themselves. It was also good to see people learning and trying new things. I had some nice surfs on some of the waves but I’m not really keen to try out any play moves, as I prefer to stay upright. Still it is a very satisfying feeling when you manage to get the perfect balance on a wave and are able to hold yourself suspended seemingly forever above a hole, as the water rushes beneath your kayak.

Nicole making some moves at one of the play spots.

The last major rapid of the gorge always provides some great photographs as people shoot through the narrow gap between the rocks, it looks dramatic with the white water and looming rocks. Nearly everyone had gone through, when an upside down boat floated past, I put away the camera and set off in pursuit. The paddler bailed out and was soon being helped to shore by the others in the the group. While he was getting back in to his boat, I thought I’d try out something new as a bit of a challenge.

Anna running the gap on one of the last grade 3 rapids.

Paddling upstream on the opposite side of the rock pictured above, into the position where John R is pictured sitting in the background of the above photo. From here the move involves surfing down a hole above the picture rock in order to avoid being swept into it. You then break out and continue down the line in the foreground. Simple. I almost chicken out as I looked at the water being swept into the large rock and the unfriendly hole I needed to surf across.

I broke out and dropped into the hole, working my way across the river and was almost across when I tipped over. Fortunately I was past the rock, but now found myself upside down, being swept backwards down the main channel. I rolled, failed to get upright properly and was still going down the rapid but was now pushed against the back deck and short on breath, so I decided to pull the deck and go for my first swim of the season. Holding my paddle and towing my kayak, I swam to shore and self rescued. The water was warm and swimming was pleasant, but I needed a few moments before I got my breath back and could empty out my kayak and get back on the water. Funnily enough, part of me misses going for regular swims down rapids, the connection with the river seems so much more “intimate” when you are actually in the water.

From here it was a fun paddle to the get out, with some beautiful scenery, nice rapids and the occasional play spot. Feeling tired and a little sore by the time we reached the camp ground, then into some dry clothes before clambering into the back of the van for the ride back to the vehicles. We completed the shuttle, loaded up the boats and headed back into town. Such a excellent way to kick off the holidays.

21st December 2019: Avon River

Date:    21/12/2019
Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
River Conditions:   
1.141 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:   
Sunny and warm, nor-easterly breezes.
Number on Trip:    
2 people.
Time on River:  
2 hours.
Comments:  Lauri was keen to paddle down stream from our place to Kerrs Reach and possibly a little beyond to see if we could see where Greta the Shelduck had gone to. I attached the bike rack to the car, pumped up my bike tyres, loaded it on the rack and drove down to Kerrs Reach so we wouldn’t have to paddle back upstream. From the Arawa boatsheds at Kerrs Reach, I cycled down the stop bank to the Avondale Road bridge, all the while keeping an eye out for paradise shelducks, and the back home along the northern bank.

After lunch, we got kitted up and took the kayaks down to the river. Our plan for a leisurely drift / paddle downstream was somewhat thwarted by an incoming tide and headwinds, meaning that any time we stopped paddling, we started floating upstream. Still it was a nice day and good to be on the river.

Heading downstream through the Red Zone.

We didn’t see any sign of Greta, but there were a number of pairs of shelducks and some of those had ducklings with them. We also saw lots of canada geese, swans, ducks, scaups, shags and even a largish school of fish. At Kerrs Reach, a group of high school rowers must have been having their end of year event, so there were a number of boats being rowed erratically by mixed groups of parents & students, which we largely tried to avoid. There were also plenty of geese and swans, and a little further down was a family of shelducks with twelve, almost grown juveniles. A pretty amazing achievement to have that many survive to near adulthood.

From here we continued on, only planning to go a little further, then just to the bend and eventually down to the Avondale Road bridge, some 2 kilometres from where we left the car. The rowers gave over the river to the race boaters from Arawa, but there was no sign of Greta, so we turned around and headed back up the river, past more paddlers enjoying a fine day out on the river. By the time we got back to the car, Lauri was quite tired and we were both glad to head home for rest.

9th December 2019: Lyttelton Harbour

Date: 9/12/2019
Lyttelton Harbour, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, New Zealand.
Weather Conditions:
Sunny and warm, light winds.
Number on Trip:
15 people.
Time on Water:
1.5 Hours.
New Zealand is one of the last remaining countries still importing phosphate from the illegally occupied territory of Western Sahara. Josie had organised a land and sea protest, which had intended to blockage the Federal Crimson, the ship carrying the stolen phosphate. Ravensdown delayed the ship’s arrival time and then let the ship sit at anchor offshore for several days before sneaking in to Lyttelton Harbour after dark on Sunday night, so our plans had to change. This meant only those that could take Monday off with little or no notice were available to take part. Lauri was keen to take part and I was happy make sure she was properly looked after. We sorted our gear the night before and discovered that Lauri’s buoyancy aid had shrunk. I drove out to our storage locker and picked up her canoe polo BA, but that had also shrunk, so in the end I let her use my one, while I would wear her small one.

Paddling towards the Federal Crimson.

The day dawned, sunny and warm, a great day for a paddle. We loaded up the boats and drove out to the planned launch point to meet up with the rest of the group. There was a good size group at the boat ramp when we got there, but the planned extra sit on top kayaks hadn’t arrived. After waiting a little longer, we kitted ourselves out with Western Sahara flags and launched in to the harbour. Our little group included, an inflatable double kayak, a stand up paddle board and a number of kayaks (sea, sit on tops and us in our white water boats). It was a beautiful day for a paddle and the harbour was flat with little wind, so we easily covered the 800 metres to where the Federal Crimson was berthed.

Attaching a Western Saharan flag to the side of Federal Crimson.

The ship was massive and red, and as part of the protest we attached a large Western Saharan flag to the side of it using some powerful magnets. Once this was done we all cheered and sang a protest song, while our accompanying yacht sailed back and forth, with the photographers on the deck taking photos and video. We then paddled to the stern of the ship to join in chants with the shore based protest. As the trailer full of kayaks had arrived, those that had been previously disappointed at being unable to be part of the flotilla (all dressed up but with no boat to paddle), were able to join us on the water.

Protesting & paddling.

One paddler climbed out of his boat and onto the ships rudder. While he was posing for photos, his sit on top floated off and under the jetty, followed by other paddlers. We’d been told not to go under the jetties by the organisers but it was necessary to follow the drifting boat. There was a bit of drama returning the boat to the guy on the rudder but the group chasing the boat managed it in the end, all the whilst the authorities looked on.

Once paddler and kayak were reunited, we returned to where we had placed the flag on the ships hull for more photos and chants. Removing the flag was a little tricky as the magnets holding it in place were very strong. An overzealous tug left one of the top magnets stuck high above the heads of those in kayaks, but fortunately it was rescued by the stand up paddle boarder. From there, we paddled back across the harbour to the boat ramp. There were a couple of police officers waiting and they issued a warning to the person who had been standing on the rudder. We had a debrief, packed up our gear and then Shane turned up with some much welcomed food. We had a good morning, it was good to catch up with people, enjoy the sun and to bring awareness to an important issue. Thanks Josie and all those involved to bring about such a successful protest.

The Press ran a story on the protest and that is available here.