Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Perth River

Well all I can say about this run is STEEP! Dave Chambers and Myself were going into Hokitika about 8pm at night to get our heli money for the Whitcombe when we ran into some old friends. Long story short, 13 hours later we were loading kayaks into a cradle to fly into the Upper Perth.

Getting our gear together

Flying in things look sweet all the way to Scone Hut. After this the rivers gradient and ferocity look to increase dramatically. We landed about 5km upstream at a sieved section that looked like the get it on the New Zealand section on Amongst it and began to scout. Long sections of continuous class IV+ to V rapids were on the menu for the next 5hours with a few portages and some absolutely amazing scenery, geography and white-water.

Scone Hut

Chance firing one of the bigger drops

People seem to think that the first section of the second day is the hardest and steepest. I think after paddling the first day that you won't even noticed the gradient at all. The second day starts of classy IV+ for a few kms with a few V's. The two other steep sections on this day collect a bit more water making things more pushy. Knowing your way through the first day would be helpful on this trip so doing the one-day Perth would be a good idea.

Jimmy stomping it

Myself making the boof

Chance firing it up.

The Perth River is an amazing class V river and the multi-day option is certainly worth it. Its worth knowing that you do drop your gear at Scone Hut on the way up and there is six beds in Scone Hut. This river has lots of inconspicuous sieves but a whole lot more white-water. Definately the hardest thing I have run on the West Coast.

Typical Perth River

Upper Kakapotahi

The Upper Kakapotahi is one of the only class IV-V road-side runs on the West Coast. A short gorge consisting of about ten sweet drops, deep clear pools and two portages (subject to interpretation) make up the run. Then there is the option on paddling the Lower Kakapotahi which is mostly class III+ (IV) but is much more fun big and brown when pushing into class IV-V. Here are some shots of the run.

The tight entrance slot - charge right or sneak left

Dave Kwant and Barny Young after the second drop

Paul Maydew paddling clear.

Postmans Falls

Alex on Postmans

The boys checking out Airmail

Dave Kwant on Airmail

Myself on Airmail

The Portage - you'll work it out.

Paddlers this day where Barny Young, Alex Kilyk, Paul Maydew, Kev England, Dave Kwant and Myself. This is a medium flow, any less and things become manky and more portages might be required, any higher things are rushed and consequences increase drastically. There is a way out if things are too hot in there for you below Postman Falls on river LEFT, enjoy. Thanks for the photos Alex and Kev.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Arahura Te Awa

The Arahura River has been the world-reknown 'West Coast Classic' with every international kayaker I meet asking about that river. Whats it like? What flows go? Have you ran Dent Falls? These are common question that come up when discussing this run. Basically all I can say about this run is get 2-6mates together, give Dando a call, then $100 for the chopper flight (prices change), pull on your deck and be ready for 3-7hours of classic moves, nice drops and testing white-water. Its a great day out and a must do if paddling on the coast.

The shuttle vehicle courtesy of Bruce Dando

Brinky running the first drop

Jared enjoying his first Arahura

Brinky on Curtain Call

Me running Dent Falls

Ben finding the rock at the base of Dent Falls

The final drop of a busy class IV+ section below Dent Falls.

Risk assessment on Cesspit - Alex and Rich

Me firing Cesspit

Mo firing Cesspit

Me below Cesspit.

Paddlers on this trip were Alex Kilyk, Brinky, Richard Young, Mo Kennedy, Ben, Angus Robb, Jarad Mitchell and myself. It was a great day out with only one swim, due to poor line communication eh Jared. Thanks to Alex, Mo and Rich for the photos.

The River Styx

Dave getting excited about his first Styx run.

The Styx River has always been my go to river when I was learning to paddle and now when I go back to the West Coast. It is a good introductory West Coast run that does not require a helicopter or ridiculious carry in (5 or more hours) to get to the goods. After an easy 50-80min walk along a clear well-marked track you are will find yourself facing some continuous class IV+ action. The rivers intensity decreases slowly into class IV then III all the way to the get out. There is a small gorge type section right before the get out and at higher flows this can turn into two large river wide holes. The best thing about this run is you can see the river almost the whole time you are carrying in and this gives you an opportunity to select a put in that suits you in relation to the flow. Here is some pictures of the run at various flows.

Dave and myself walking into a medium flow styx.

Myself standing at the usual top get in.

Barny Young and Myself on a low Styx.

Some of these photos will illustrate the various flows that the Styx can be run at. Barny and myself have run it a lot together and walked in one day when it was on the rise and got on a high flow as you will be able to see by comparing photos.

Barny and myself about to paddle the same section as above - much higher

Splitting the rocks

Low Styx in 2006

Barny and Myself on a high Styx 2007 - same drop as above

This river is a great asset to the west coast and is still currently free of Dydimo. I hope it stays that way and I urge people to make sure they clean their gear before paddling any part of the Styx River as well as all rivers around New Zealand.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

South for the Summer

With the university year ending and thirst increasing Dave Chambers, Alex Kilyk, Drew Classen, import old man Brinkey and myself decided it was time to head to the southern region of the South Island. We were on the hunt for white-water, good times and to experience things you just can't in your everyday life... and we got just that!!!

We got to run the Rangitata, Hooker, Kawarau, Shotover Gorge, Stair-Case Creek, Holly Ford, Tutuko, Cleddau, Arthur, Fox and Whitcombe Rivers. Here are some photos of the action on and off the river and a brief outline of how the trip went.

First stop from Christchurch was the Rangitata river, a nice short class IV with a paddle out that Drew could enjoy. The run went well and Dave even caught us a fish that we enjoyed over the fire while we camped by Lake Tekapo.

Myself on the Rangitata

Brinky on the Rangitata

From Tekapo we headed into Mount Cook Village hoping to paddle the Upper Hooker River. After a brief scout we concluded the run would be worthwhile if we wanted to wait until the afternoon for the flow to increase. None of us, other than Alex, really wanted to do that so we paddled the class III+ -IV section, visited Tasman Glacial Lake and then headed furthur south in search of white gold.

Myself on the Hooker Glacier Lake

Upon arriving to Queenstown Drew finally got a chance to get on the water, the Roaring-Meg section on the Kawarau. Being his fifth time in a kayak the big boils and confused eddy lines gave him some grief but he got through it and enjoyed himself. Next day we paddled the Gorge section of the Shotover River. Nice class IV read and run with a blind cave rapid at the end. This was a nice run but again not exactly what we were hoping for.

Dave entering the tunnel on the Shotover Gorge

Beautiful (but not entirely legal) camping spots kept us happy for a few days around Queenstown. Next thing to hit was Citeron, a rapid that was embarrasingly hard for us to initially find to scout due to our lack of beta and knowledge of the word 'promonotory' used in the guide book. Once on river level and after scouting Alex and Brinky decided the top part of the rapid was not for them at 260cumecs so opted to put in below the Crux. After tossing up the left vs right line I decided the right had the least consequence so fired it up. Alex and Brinky ran the fun wave train and it was a great start to the day. We decided the Queenstown bars had taken enought of our money so it was time to head towards Milford Sound(Fjord).

Lake Hayes

Driving along the Devils Staircase, alongside like Wakatipu, we drove over a little creek. I then remembered that a friend mentioned it was worth paddling so we stopped immediatly. After consulting with the land owner we took off up a track to scout. After two hours we had found a gem but with a twist. The path was an old stock path, damn small stock I guess, through quite thick bush. The next day we sucked it up and dragged our boats a fair way up the creek and put in where we felt the river was to tight without excess water. We paddled a nice class IV section and it could of handled much more water. We found a 25footer in there and if you somehow got to the top of the run and it had water there would almost be not chance of being able to portage, so beware.

Scouting Staircase Creek

After paddling Staircase Creek we pushed towards Milford Sound, paddling the Falls Creek section of the Hollyford in the afternoon.

Our introduction the 'Shadow Lands'

Milford Sound had plenty to offer with the rain bringing all the runs in. We were fortunate to hit the Tutuko, Cleddau and a high flow Arthur. All these runs are great read and run class IV+ with some great sections of white-water. The highlight had to be a high flow Arthur with Alex and MSSK guide Jimmy where we used a motor boat to cross the Sound (Fjord) and then walked in. The run was a lot of poke and hope but worked out really well with only Alex getting back looped and Brinky (playing photographer) narrowly missed the shot.

Tutuko walk-in

Dave Chambers on the Cleddau

Blake from MSSK

Myself on the Arthur

Alex soaking it all in on the Arthur

A bit different to heli-kayaking

With the weather clearing, food running out and a hang over we decided it was time to head back to finish our business with the Hollyford then try get Drew somewhere North so he could hitch-hike back to Christchurch to catch his flight home!

Looking back towards Milford Sound

Typical Fjordland

We paddled the Hollyford in parts, Falls Creek, Gunn Camp (for Drew) and Morraine all one afternoon and then the Marian Creek section the next day while the water held. Two great days of boating before returning to Queenstown and seeing Drew and Dave off.

Falls Creek - Hollyford

Brinky getting warmed up for Marian

Drew leading us down the Gunn Camp Section

Amongst it on the Marian Creek section of the Hollyford

Dave at the office

Class IV+ to V exactly what we were looking for

None of us wanted any of this... portage 2nd Gorge

With most of Queenstown and Milford out of the way and things drying up Alex, Brinky and Myself decided to begin our migration up towards to Hokitika. The Young was too low as well as the Turnball after we finally got access. The Gates of Haast looked insane and was too low to even consider a run so we paddled the Fox and then headed up to paddle the Whitcombe before disbanding for the summer.

Top and Bottom sections of the Gates of Haast.

This was a great trip and a good way to get over uni and into summer boating. I would like to thank Alex Kilyk for almost all the photos and video footage, making sure Dave and Myself did not get ahead of ourselves on the river and keeping Brinky warm at night. I believe Milford is extremely underrated in the guidebook and in peoples minds and with water that place has some really stout kayaking. There are rivers all over NZ worth chasing and I see Fjordland as an almost untouched (maybe untouchable when considering DOC's actions towards the Arthur) kayaking resource worthy of consideration and exploration.

Drew, Alex, Dave, Myself and Brinky - Lake Pukaki.