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.
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.
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.