25 December 2007

Christmas at Kaituna

Here are a few shots from the expression session at the power house on Kaituna in the weekend and Jamie coming off Huka.
Sam Sutton with a Free wheel off of Okere

Jamie surfing in the weir

Mike Dawson mixing it up in the slalom boat

Jamie heading towards the weir

The final drop!

18 December 2007

Big Gear

Well, what to say. We had another mean weekend on the 8th and 9th. The plan was to drive up the Napier Taihape road over the gentle annie and hit up the infamous Waihohonu river on Saturday, stay in or near taupo (but not within walking distance of town) then make the pilgrimage to Kaituna again. Like most of our plans however, it recieved some modification along the way to make it bigger (much bigger!) and better.

The crew for this mission was Sanga, J dog and Ev going north and Chee coming south to meet us at Kaituna on Sunday.

The Waihohonu turned out to be an awesome run - cold, clear and with some cool 3 - 3+ rapids. The start of the run was met with a lot of humming and haaaing at the roadside grade 4 drops in a side creek with no eddies. The call was finally made to leave these for another day as no one was keen to warm up for the run by boof to face grind on shallow rocks.

J dog running the first canyon rapid

About halfway through the run was the infamous Waihohonu canyon which consists of two rapids which are very narrow and have holes at the bottom. The second of these has what we like to call the devil hole because it was pretty savage and had a drawback of about three metres. None of us felt like a swim so we all portaged (the next day we met a dude who dropped his boat in by accident once and it didnt flush for ten minutes - yuk).

Jamie refreshing himself in the first hole

The devil hole

The run finished with some more cool rapids and a crazy cave with springs coming out of the walls.

We stayed in Kinloch on Saturday night (no pubs there) and this was where the much bigger and better plans kicked in. Josh Neilson, Sam Suttom and Dylan Thompson were coming to Taupo on Sunday morning (1 o'clock ferry anyone) and word was that an early morning run of Huka was on. Pretty big I hear you say; Not for these boys, turned out they were going to run Aratiatia instead and asked us to run safety for them. For those who aren't kayakers, the Aratiatia rapids are on the Waikato river about ten minutes out of taupo and are right below the Aratiatia dam. The dam gets released four times a day and the rapids fill up and turn into some of the hardest whitewater in the country and possibly the world. It's big and scary and serious. So for us to get to see them run and to run safety was a pretty cool opportunity. Chee changed his plans and came down to Taupo for the midday release which was when the run was planned for.

The rapids without water

Filling up

and nearly full

For the run we were going to be at the weir which is the crux of the rapids and is basically just a massive river wide hole with a heinous drawback. Chee and Jdog abseiled down to just below it and Sanga was on the other side all with throwbags in case something went wrong (gulp)

The boys scouting the weir

Chee abseiling in

At 12:15 after the rapids were cranking, Josh pioneered the way down the top half of the rapids and came to the weir, he took a roll just at the bottom but luckily came out ok. Sam was next and got in a massive boof and skimmed straight through. Dylan was last, he bogged a bit but managed to paddle out safely. Whew!!! sighs of relief all round.

Josh on line and styling the top section

Sam on the weir with a sweet line

The boys got to the bottom section of the rapids and scouted it then paddled it ok with a couple of beatings apparantly but they all came out fine.

The team above the bottom drop

Dylan lining it up

It was awesome to see rapids like this being run and run cleanly and it was a rush just seeing it done. If anyone wants some lessons on manning the f**** up they should talk to these dudes!!

After getting out of the gorge we took off for Kaituna on our original mission and Ev had his first taste of waterfall central which he loved, so this ones for you bro... Show your mum.

3 December 2007

A change of plans

For the first weekend of December the plan was to head down to Waikanae to paddle the upper Otaki. We were going to meet Chee on his way up from ChCh and walk in. Jamie had been talking to the big dog upstairs and had organised for it to rain on thursday/Friday. Unfortunately the big guy must have been busy in the middle east or somewhere and he forgot to turn on the tap. So we pulled out before we ended up on one of our classic goose chases that seem to end up scratching down rivers instead of paddling.
New plan....
Saturday morning after checking the flow with Butters on the way we decided to head north for a guaranteed PADDLE! A few quick phone calls later and we were on route to Rotorua for the ever reliable Kaituna River. Butters and Jamie had the pleasure of taking Sanga for his first Kaituna experience and what an experience it was!

After two stellar runs of the Okere Falls section we meet up with some boys from St Pauls in Hamilton and one of their instructors and we got the opportunity to tag along on a trip down awesome gorge. So we snapped it up and after 30-40mins of the best roller coaster ride of our lives we all only one word to describe the section of deep narrow gorge...and of course that word was awesome! This was especially cool because our time to do this section could be limited because the rapids within the gorge are at threat of being lost forever because of New Zealand's energy needs. There are plans in the pipeline to have this section damed for electricity generation.

After a leisurely stroll back to the carpark we were kindly driven back to the top by the other groups shuttle bunny (a very dedicated father) for our third and final run. Here are a few photos from that..

Sanga lining up the weir

The team just below Tutea Falls

Tutea falls

Sanga, Butters, and Jamie getting in there for a wee photo

At the bottom of this run is the famous Kaituna Hole. This play hole is excellent for showing off to tourists and using that last little bit of energy that you didn't even know you still have before calling it a day.

Ben posing for the cameras

Jamie looping it up in his creek boat

Ben doing the same in his new mini mystic

After all of this fun we were on our way back to Taupo to meet up with Chee and Derry for the night where the fun times just kept coming... lets just say things got a little crazy, there was some confusion between the two pre-determined sober drivers leaving us with no sober driver, and a very sore wallet.

Dedicated as we are this didn't slow us down too much as we were back on the road (hungover again) and heading for the Wairoa by 9am (still a little behind schedule) arriving at the put in in not too bad time. We had organised a few people to meet up with but we were a bit slow off the mark so we were left high and dry. This was when we met Matt, a Wairoa local who showed us some sweet lines down some of the Wairoa's awesome drops. Chee and Sanga had a wee incident with a toaster (visualise a kayaker instead of bread) but all turned out Ok. The run finished with 'just some grade two and three boulder gardens bro' and then out of nowhere another river wide 2m waterfall ! - casual grade two - three? The St Pauls boys were charging hard again and we caught up with them at the bottom. The Wairoa turned out to be another primo day and it was crazy to see so many people on one river (almost bullerfest-ish). All in all considering the fact that we all only had a mere 3 hours sleep we all seemed to be on our game for some very fun boating full of clean lines and challenging water.

Sanga's little walk...

Anyone who has been into the Kaweka range in the West of Hawkes Bay will know that it is quite steep, quite high, and quite hard walking. Luckily for me the team that I somehow conned (peer pressured) into walking in to Kiwi mouth hut didn't know this and so they happily tagged along for a three day mission. The catch in this particular trip was that we were walking in with kayaks on our backs.....

The boys at the put in....?

The trip was for the expedition paper at tech and as it turned out it was definately an expedition...

The first bit of drama/extremely funny incident was in the carpark at the start and went something like this;

Evan: Did you fullas bring slepping bags?

Everyone else: Yeah? why? did you not?

Evan: Nah I left mine in Christchurch, I just brought this sheet.

Everyone else: Incredulous silence followed by hysterical laughter, Are you serious???

Evan: Oh, its a winter sheet though.

This set the scene for Ev's trip, there was also another episode in the carpark which had us questioning his logic. "What are you fullas walking in?" asked Ev. "Oh just shoes and we strapped our ankles", was the reply, "Why what about you bro?" "Oh I've just got my brothers school Roman sandals eh"...Another incredulous silence. "What?" said Ev, "If the Romans can go to war in them, I can walk in in them".... More hysterical laughter. It was going to be an interesting trip...

The boys halfway up the first hill

The walk for the first day was about 6 km with a dirty hill at the start. I'm not 100 percent on this but I think that the 'I hate Sanga club' was formed somewhere between the photo above and the top of the hill. From the top of the devil hill we still had a couple of hours of undulating terrain (kaweka termionlogy for big hills) to cover and by the time we reached the Kiwi saddle hut at 9:30 that night, the club was in full swing with a treasurer, secretary, and club captain (Jamie). All in all we gained about 500 metres over 6km in four hours.

The little fella after having terrible cramps (potentially in relation to his hangover... Again.)

Evan dreaming about a sleeping bag

The view from Kiwi saddle hut

The hunters at the hut couldn't believe that we had carried kayaks up there and I think they may have thought we were slightly insane (quite possible). The morning dawned and after our porridge and leftovers it was back into it. Luckily we didnt have to shoulder the boats and we could drag them for the first half hour. We dropped down into Kiwi creek - literally, with the kayaks being lowered down some of the steep bits with throw bags and slings. From here it was a tedious float/drag of the kayaks down the creek to Kiwi mouth hut, but still better than carrying them. There was still quite a lot of darkness floating around but by this stage the boys knew there was only one way out - forwards. Kiwi mouth was reached with a collective sigh from everyone at about four in the afternoon and we proceeded to consume copious amounts of tea for the rest of the evening.

Dragging boats through the beech

rescue gear being put to good use

Butters controlling his boat telepathically in Kiwi creek

Relaxing at Kiwi mouth

The following morning after a terrible sleep (four bunks five people) we were up with high spirits because we knew there was no more walking involved. We put on the river and spent a bit of time getting used to loaded up boats (32kgs). Two hours later everyone was fairly sick of scraping down every single rapid and the 'I dislike Sanga intensly' club had reared its head again. In the end it took us about five hours to paddle out on the Ngaruroro which was very low. We were all very, very, happy to see the get out.

The trip turned out to be a massive adventure and I think I may have broken butters, the poor little chap. It was an interesting learning curve for carrying heavy boats which are not very comfortable. However we did have some hilarious moments which probably can't be put on here but they will come out in the grape vine I'm sure. As a trip goes it has probably never been done before and will never be done again (at least not by us!). From now on the coast will seem a lot easier!

19 November 2007

Lower Ngaruroro - Longest Day Ever

Hey crew, it has been flat out for us up in the Bay (and yes it is THE Bay RJ). The first weekend we arrived everyone was fevered to get on the water and so with Jamie and Butters having been here a grand total of eight hours we were off to rock the Ruakituri (a casual three hour drive). Alas it was not to be as there was a key element missing - namely water, and the river was mostly one big death sieve;
Three hours and a dozen Tuis later a disgruntled team got back to Havelock and decided to do the lower Ngaruroro on the Sunday. The Guidebook said eight hours but because we were under the influence we talked ourselves into the idea that it would only take six.......

Jamie having a shower
(The shower head was a bit high)
We made it onto the water by lunchtime and were in high spirits (except for Butters cos he was being punished by the alcohol gods), five hours, some fun grade two, and some sweet chicken sammies later we were still in high spirits and had reached the start of the lower gorge or barricade section.

J Dog on his rock

There were some cool Grade three - three plus rapids which with more water would nudge four. We had heaps of fun on them and were out of the gorge by six at night - Has anyone guessed whats next yet?

Sanga in the midst

J Dog gettin his boof on

Butters on the crux - ish bit (the Barricade rapid)

... Eight hours and 39kms later

Yup we should have listened to Graham, turns out there was still a two and a half hour flat, braided paddle out. After a slight episode of going mental (why would anyone do longboating) we finally made the take out just before our ride left us to find our own way home.

15 November 2007

Mt Rolleston, Rome Ridge, 14-11-07

Arthurs Pass: Patchy cloud cover clearing, SouWesterly winds easing and freezing level at to 1600 metres predicted before an afternoon NorWesterly change bringing cloud, low visibility and high winds.
This defines the small break in the weather creating a possibity for a early crack at the rome ridge said Flynn. Josh said yep im keen, unfortunately Rob and Crusher had more pressing commitments. So there were two who readied gear and cruised up to the pass tues evening, saluting the kayak crew at sheffield who were on the way home. YeaBoi. The descision was made to bunker down at goldneys shelter (?), 10 minutes this side of the pass. Bad idea. The Boys didd'nt realise there'd be so many excessively loud trucks and trains passing through in the night, determining how well they slept (very poor).
Walking by 6am had us out of the bush by 7 and axes out. Unfortunately there wasn't near as hard a freeze as hoped so we were plugging instead of cramponing through 15cm of fresh snow and a wind crust that would often break through to knee-high snow. Poor conditions!
The SW was continually blowing cloud over keeping visiblity low at times, and pressing on up the ridge found still more wind-blown fresh, and instability in areas of the snowpack (as the boys expected). Climbing a few steep sections and feeling a bit of exposure on the ridge was an enjoyment, even the cold gusty wind and cloud was a contributing factor to the fun that was had. Being in the hills is mint!
The descicion was made to turn for home at about 10am (so early!). The weather was going to become very crusty when it changed NW, and plugging had become tiresome and seemingly pointless. The boys decided that they were close enough to the gap anyway and didnt want to commit to the ropework required, due to the poor weather.
Back at the car by lunchtime after cruising down at a leisurely pace (the fastest plastics would allow) and rolling some rocks down a steep gully. Saw the fattest kea weve ever seen too.
Looking foward to better conditions in the future 'cos the ridge is a goodie. Peace!

14 November 2007

End of Year Kayak Trip - West Coast

Half way through the year we got this great idea to apply for a grant from the CPSA (Christchurch Polytech Students Association) to go and explore more of the areas that the South Island has to offer for kayakers on an intermediate level. The trip that we had planned to do was down to Queenstown in July... whose idea was that?! We had to postpone the trip to later on in the year because of the difficulties of travel both on roads and river due to snow and ice! We ended up having to keep shifting it further and further back because of study and eventually we ran out of time leaving us with half of the original group.
Even this trip that ended up shrinking from 10 days to 2 and moved from Queenstown to Hokitika which was still a mission to plan. Because of weather, money, etc our plans changed every day dramatically. We went from plans to fly to the reality of walking because of the trusty West Coast rain. Luckily we had an excess of water, we are all so tough, and we are all well conditioned athletes (yeah right!) this didn't really bother us.
We got on the Styx on Monday, waited around on Tuesday for the weather to make a plan to fly, walk, or drive, before finally organising the chopper, arriving at the river (which at this stage is big and brown), and then having to send Dando home (which he was really good about), and finally walking in through the mud and rain to the put in. This is what the West Coast is all about!

Angus on the Styx - image Chee Joe
Jamie and Butters walking into the Toaroha - image Sophia Mulder

Gus battling the mud of the Toaroha - image Soph Mulder

still walking - image Soph Mulder

Gus avoiding Jake being worked - image Soph Mulder

Jesse on the final rapid of the day - image Chee joe

Camping at Mahinapua!- Jamie Garrod