Thursday, March 27, 2014

Road Tripping, New Zealand

Road Tripping, New Zealand

Looking back at Lake Hawea, New Zealand, Chris Baer
Looking back at Lake Hawea

Kayakers are meant to road trip! Local rivers only hold interest for so long; when attention wanes, it’s time to explore. Traveling brings me so much joy, wild landscapes, new paddlers, local beta, reuniting with old friends, crashing at random campgrounds and couches – all culminating in paddling new rivers. Traveling is what kayakers are supposed to do!

the densely forested New Zealand coast line looking out onto the Tasman Sea, Chris Baer
the densely forested New Zealand coast line looking out onto the Tasman Sea

endless beaches on the West Coast of the South Island



looking into the depths Of Nevis Bluff

When searching for whitewater, gradient is usually the first major ingredient on the list. Amazingly, the Kawarau River Valley is relatively flat. Long sections flow with huge volume almost unfazed by massive cliff walls on either side. Thankfully, on a few occasions, rock formations and gradient come together to create immense rapids. Probably most noteworthy is Nevis Bluff, a rapid which upon inspection at 280+ cumecs ≈ 10,000 cfs, looks terrifying at best. Scouting from 300 ft above definitely squishes scale, but what I saw looked like huge laterals feeding into river wide frowning holes with boils reaching thirty feet downstream ripping back into the troughs.

yet another multi tired stack of boats heading to the put in

Thankfully, Ben Young and James Webster quickly arrived and hinted to move down stream towards the Citroen Rapid. Citroen gets paddled at higher flows than Nevis but still looked like solid class 5 upon first sight. The saving grace was that none of the major features looked terminal, the only major concern was a violent revolving eddy on the left side directly across from a main center pour-over. We took turns paddling the rapid. Only a few expectations were achieved, every paddler was clobbered with huge laterals and blown way offline.



Gorgeous scenery on the Taipo, New Zealand, Chris Baer
Gorgeous scenery on the Taipo

Kerry Hoglund, in the canyon section, New Zealand, Chris Baer, Taipo
Kerry Hoglund, in the canyon section
Chris Baer, making his way down stream on the Taipo, New Zealand, kayaking
Chris Baer, making his way down stream on the Taipo
Gorgeous scenery and classic class 4 fun. This section would get paddled regularly if it had road access; unfortunately, it's a 23 km helicopter flight to the put in ($180 – save your money!
The rapids are good, and the scenery is solid but with so many amazing options in New Zealand this ought to be left on the back burner.

flying up the Taipo, helicopter, river, New Zealand, Chris Baer
flying up the Taipo

Maruia Falls 


Jeff Colgrove dialing the sub 20 line, chris Baer, New Zealand, Maruia Falls, kayaker
Jeff Colgrove dialing the sub 20 line
Maruia from the awkward right hand scout, NZ, New Zealand, Chris Baer, waterfall,
Maruia from the awkward right hand scout
A defining park and huck; park the van, pull the boats off the roof, step over the guardrail, walk thirty feet to the river’s edge, and four strokes later you’re free falling twenty plus feet. Located just outside the whitewater rafting hub of Murchison, these picturesque falls allows locals and travelers a great case study on waterfall boating. The lip is scouted from river right and has a tendency to conceal the lead into the falls. I highly suggest looking at the easy but deceptive lead in from a couple angles. The average hucker gets in their boat all fired up and turns down stream only to ask, “Where is the line?” The other piece of useful beta, unless you are under twenty years old - get your nose down. The landing zone is a large boil, and it hits hard. Ibuprofen and a beer is a solid antidote for a long day at Maruia falls.

adventure brought to you by Chris Baer

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