Saturday, December 12, 2009

rain rain go away

right: the Totara in good flow

So bryuce and me have done a few things since the last update. Less than we would have liked because it has basically rained every day for the last 5 or 6 days – 400mm fell in the whitcomb catchment a couple of days ago. This has meant, iroically enough that every river around hokitika has been massive – rivers that would normally be 5 or 10m wide were 30m wide brown wavetrains.

left: bushbashing is much more fun than paddling

After the first lot of rain we did the Totara which was fun – 12km of bouncy III+, a few chunky holes, some pretty gorge. The shuttle was fun too as it involved runnning 12km back to the car. The next day we went down to the Kakapotahi and did the upper gorge in the afternoon. The level was on the low end of runnable – its an entertaining trip all the same, and is more pleasant now that you can paddle through the cave below airmail instead of doing the sketch portage.

left: random drop. Non cash prize for whoever can guess where it is

We spent a day driving around once it really started to rain looking for rivers that were low enough to paddle – an ultimately fruitless mission, as the run to do when “all the main rivers are in flood”, Blue Bottle creek, was too low. The next day (yesterday) we hit it up. It didn't look too bad at the put in – kind of like an Australian creek really – about 5m wide, brown and fast flowing. We'd heard from from some people who'd done it the day before (too low they reckoned) that there was a log across the channel not to far from the start – I was up front and came upon a sharp bend that had a micro eddy at it's apex, which I decided not to grab... as I came round the bend I found myself presented with a log across the channel – managed to beach myself in the fork of a tree stump and get out thankfully.

left: airmail

The river kept ambling along at fun (brown) bouncy class III for some time and I was wondering when/if there were going to be any proper rapids – there were, and once we were in the steepest part of the run I was hoping for a return to the earlier conditions. The steep section would normally be a pleasant boulder garden I imagine. At this flow it was a a steep pumpy brown series of big holes. I looked around at one point to see our french mate in a hole, not able to do anything I hoped he'd get out – he caught up to us a minute or so later. This continued for longer than I thought it would until we reached the aquaduct we had seen the day earlier. There was a big eddy here, so we all got out and had a breather. The next km or two were fun and bouncy – moreso once we got to the confluence with the Kinare river and the flow trippled. At least there was room to move now.

left: bruce on postmans falls.

Bruce and me have been driving around today looking for things low enough to paddle – we went to blackball (too low) the crooked (too high) and the otira (too high/nuts), so we cruised over Arthurs arse and down to the Rangitata, which we had been told would take 1.5hrs to get to from the pass – its now 4.5hrs later, the days getting on and we've given up 'cause bruce has hooked up some accom/food in christchurch!

below: this was the takeout for bluebottle creek (on the Kinere river) - note the enormous riverwide wave...there was probably 100+ cumecs pumping through a relatively small channel....

Saturday, December 05, 2009

quick update: whitcomb + more theiving!

right: some random on the Whitcomb

hey peeps

me, bruce and a yank called craig paddled the Whitcomb yesterday. It was fun, mediumish (i think) level. Biggish volume boulder gardens. Craig may have had a swim on the first rapid in Colliers gorge and it may have taken a few hundred meters to catch his boat...

Boat was somewhat modified by this experience - a massive crease runing accross one side of the nose and a new crack...

our issues with the thieves of NZ continue - we discovered our paddling thermals (stink +++) disappered from the dryer at the caravan park!

right: The seconds before Craig's demise

Thursday, December 03, 2009

NZ 09 - boating, thieves and bushwalking

left: bruce fires it up on the Arahura

hey peeps

me and bruce (sic) have been boating in NZ for the last week. Most of it has been of the two person variety, which definitely calms the nerves and adds an element of safety. Firstly we flew in to ChCh and picked up our sick rental car 'Sunny' - she's a beast. She easily shits all over the other RWD vans and similar when it comes to chewing up the 4wd tracks. By moving at 0.5km/hr we can even manage to keep the underbody (which is about 47mm above the ground) intact.

Firstly we drove to murchison, where my boat was delivered later that night! Its a pyrhana burn and seems to go pretty good - definitely easier to drive than the embudo. We hit up the earthquake run on the matakitaki a few times then headed to the buller and did the ariki falls section with some local young'uns. Water level was low so we gave buller the arse, loaded sunny up and headed to the coast.

right: Bruce still maintains that H20 paddles are awsome

Once on the coast we heard some girls were flying in to the lower hoki, so we gave dando a call and flew up there too. On the one hand $100 is steep to fly up there, but it was a cruisy way to introduce bruce to the joys of helicopter assisted boating. The run only took a couple of hours and was pretty much all boat scouting - the hard rapid from last time is gone so now its a continuous run of III-III+ with some nice canyon.

left: Bruce does the Hoki Poki

The next day it was doing a bit of the raining thing, so we shouldered our boats and made the delightful 2hr walk up the styx. She was full and looked a bit pushy, so I told bruce the flow was medium and would be fine. At this flow the first couple of rapids were probably pushing class V once you strung them together so we put on 100m or so down to avoid any unnecessary carnage. The run was sweet, slightly pushy fun class IV boating.

below: bruce on the styx

The following day we drove north. And north. And North. Checked out the Nuclearwar (too low) on the way. Basically to the end of the road, to Karamea. Driving between westport (where we should have filled up with fuel) and karamea we had f-all fuel. Luckily the supermarket had access to a stash of emergency fuel (10L) so we could get back to westport. They must have been scratching their heads when we drove off in the opposite direction - we had some paddling to do! We drove down the road a bit to the take out for the Oparara, shouldered our boats (again) and headed up the track. Our inital attempts at paddling (down a side creek to get in to the main river) were thwarted when the river disappeared underground.... Eventually we got to the river and found it to be a fun class III-IV with a couple of portages around seives and logs. Given we only started walking up the track at 4:45pm we were pretty pleased to get to the car at 8:45pm....
left: just to prove we were there: Me on the Oparara

Right: when he's not running the shit, bruce cuddles teddy bears

We stayed in westport that night drinking with some germans (theres heaps of them over here) called Bastie, Dote and Heikey or something. Drove back south the next day - we figured we should go have a look at the Crooked. Unfortunately we couldnt get on to the farmer to get the key to the gate, so we canned that idea and had a rest day.

Next day needed to go boating - the rain from a few days eariler was drying up so we rang dando and organised to fly up the arahura. Level was good but weather was shit, so we canned that idea and walked up the styx again (with some other germans Max and Julian and a pom called Tommy). Level was a little low - scratchy up the top and bottom but sweet in the middle.

Given it had rained a bit, the following morning we drove out to the Kakapotahi. Put on the lower and had a nice run, with the intention of doing the uppers afterwards. Get to the takeout and find James (Tom's injured mate) with some bad news - some fuckers had broken in to their van and our car and nicked a bunch of stuff. Have to say we could see it coming. These carnies had followed max and julian from the campground to the put in (40km). When we got to the put in they kinda loitered saying they were looking for a campsite or something. We actually had conversations about letting their tyres down etc. Me and Bruce put our valuables in the germans lockup fridge van, so they only managed to take random bags and stuff. Tom and James weren't so lucky - they lost cameras, passports, money, clothes, all james' paddling gear (a cruel irony given he was injured). James was doing the shuttle and figured these guys were up to no good - so he parked half way and ran back up to see what was what, only to almost get run down by them! This put a dampner on paddling the uppers (which was at a sweet level) so we went back in to hoki and talked to the cops. We were able to give them a partial rego, description of the car (which was correct) and descriptions of the skanks who did it.

left: having caught Bruce's newly dented boat, Honza takes a dump on it

James and tommy were gutted - cancelled their cards etc. and headed off to ChCh (as they had been planning to do). The following morning we flew in to the Arahura. The crew was me, bruce, max, julian and a czech called Honza. Some boaters from Dunedin also flew in. The river was aweseme, a bit higher than ive paddled it before, really nice water - generally III-IV, continuous and with heaps of seives just waiting to catch the unwary! The germans (especially max) were pretty sharp - he paddled every rapid (including dent falls which has changed and is now a very narrow line with instant death consequences if you end up in the seive where 80% of the water is going. I was paddling well for the first few hours then started to get tired - similar to bruce. The wheels fell off bruces run on a relatively innnocuous rapid below Billiards when he got stuck in a hole, put in a valiant minute or so of surfing before flushing, trying to roll a few times then swam. It took around 500m to catch his boat (with new nose indentations) and he was knacked by it. We kept moving, as it was generally nice class III. The final gorge (Cesspit gorge) loomed in our minds however. Max put in a good run through the cesspit - perhaps not death consequences for fucking up but you'd get hurt. A couple of guys from the other group also ran it.

The rest of us portaged, and paddled the sweet rapids in the canyon below. Except me. I ran part of them then then swam through the biggest one - 100m of bouncy class IV. Luckily aside from bashing my legs, head, body etc aginst rocks, i flushed out the other side and recovered my gear with some assistance from the team. We crusised onwards through the final bouncy couple of km of class III to the car - rooted but happy with a great run.

right: Max fires it up, avoids death and runs the V+ dent falls of 2009. Above: some random on the Arahura

Got back to the caravan park where a surpirse was waiting for us - the manager had a message from the coppers who had caught the wankers who robbed our cars! Apparently our descriptions, partial rego etc. had been pretty good, so the cops had put the word out to the servos along the coast. At 11am the next day the cops got a call from a servo about 120km south of hoki to say that these peeople had just bought fuel. The cops caught them at 1pm (it would have been fun to be in the cop car - the road is windy as, and given the crims were driving at 100km/hr away from the cops, they must have been fairly hooning). Anyway, we went to the cop shop where the (teary) skanky chick appolagised for stealing our stuff.

Right: the seal launch portage around the cesspit raised a few peoples pulses

The two guys were in the cells and we didnt meet them. We spent the next two hours identifying ours and our friends' stuff. At one point we worked out that one of the crims was wearing Tommy's pants, so the police went and got the pants off him! It was fun to wave them off as they were driven to greymouth in a prison van!

Today is a rest day - still looks shattered and my body is sore...i think ive overworked my R side boof.....