Jamie surfing in the weir
The final drop!
Jamie surfing in the weir
The final drop!
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
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.
Sanga lining up the weir
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.
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.
The boys at the put in....?
Evan: Did you fullas bring slepping bags?
Evan: Nah I left mine in Christchurch, I just brought this sheet.
Everyone else: Incredulous silence followed by hysterical laughter, Are you serious???
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!