Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Upper Wanganui - Maybe a first?

Years ago Bruce Barnes mentioned to me that the Upper Wanganui would be worth a look sometime. That there was plenty of solid class V up there that would now be navigable since the development of new kayak technology and the contemporary paddlers mindset. After some meticulous investigation of the rivers gradient and character (looking from space via Google Earth) and indepth research into the meteorological condition for Sunday and Monday (checking the MetVUW forecast charts), Shannon and I decided that it was on! Barny took no convincing and organised a helicopter and we were set, flying 10am Sunday 27th of November. Our crew was Barny, Daniel (Shannon Mast), Justin Venable and myself.

Smyth Hut is a long way from civilization (p. Justin Venable)

Trying to get the cradle back into the Chopper (p. JV)

Flying in, we soon realised that we had caught the flow pretty much perfectly... not to mention the stellar blue skies. We were able to fly right to Smyth Hut thanks for some stellar work by Zeb Laing, and we knew we were in for a bit day. The river was ridiculously steep, somewhere in the realm of 80-100+m/km. Obviously this meant portaging, but we probably ended up with a 50/50 paddle to portage ratio and there were definitely a few big things in there that would of gone... Anyway, the 2km or so down to Galway Creek took us about 4 hours so by the time we got to the normal Wanganui (at high-ish water) we were ready to mob and get down to Hunters Hut. One scout, and 45 minutes later we had covered the 5 or so km of the normal Upper Wanganui and were ready for a night of relaxation and reflection at the a very classy establishment.

Alpine boulder-gradens (p. Jordy)

Getting steeper (p. Barny)

Daniel (p. Jordy)

Slings were priceless on the steep portages! (p. Jordy)

Barny amongst the unparallel West
Coast beauty (p. JV)

Tight and beautiful! (p. JV)

Inspecting... next time maybe?! (p. JV)

The final drop, the one after the section
above (p. Jordy)

JV soaking it in (p. Jordy)

The boys about to go one two (p. Barny)

Shannon on the charge (p. Jordy)

JV cleaning it (p. Jordy)

The one in the background is still
to go... Just so you know (p. JV)

Clean (p. JV)

Steep steep, check the decending bushline! (p. Barny)

Hunters Hut, a place for well earned rest! (p. JV)

In the hut, goon, food and good conversation (p. Barny)

Falling asleep that night to the predicted patter of rain on the roof, little did we know we'd be getting 100mm and be riding out a big brown gravy train the next morning! Perfect!!! Everything worked out perfectly, the access, white-water, weather, food, rain and everything. There is definitely a few more things to go up there for the bold, and the added extra incentive of hotpools at the top and bottom should convince more and more crews to get on this one.


Lawrance Simpson said...

Loving it bro. Can't wait to get back out on the water with you boys.

Fred said...

Beautiful!You should just say where is it (I've found... new Zealand, Thanks Google Earth !)