Saturday, October 21, 2006

Big Thursday - The Nevis River

What do you do after having a Big Wednesday? Our answer - Have a Big Thursday.

7:30am on thursday morning I was lying in bed wondering what to do with the day.
BEEP BEEP new text message received "Pack your gear we're heading to the Nevis see you in 30 minutes" Quite a late time I thought but hey what else am I going to do. A quick text back to Dylan "nuff said".

I rushed around collecting my gear from the back of the car, the basement, the washing line, in the wardrobe and several other locations. A small pile of gear, a paddle & a kayak sat on the footpath waiting for Dylan & Olly to arrive.

Amazingly they arrived to the minute & we were on our way to the Citreon take-out to meet Pete Simpson & Kent Huxford who were making the mission from Hawea.

We arrived at the Citreon take-out at about 11:40 about 40minutes later Pete & Kent arrived. He quickly loaded the kayaks on Pete's truck & headed off for diesel & the big shuttle to the Nevis Crossing.

Pete's truck loaded to go... Photo Antz Longman

Despite ominous looking weather & gusting Nor-westers we made it to the put-in & got on the water at 2:15. Quite a late start really. Luckily Pete, Dylan & Olly had all run the Nevis before. Wouldn't have been possible to start so late if you didn't know the river.

Dylan braves the wind for a photo op. Photo Antz Longman

At the Put In (Nevis Crossing). Photo Antz Longman

Central Otago schist walls started to grow in height as we progressed further down the river. After about 15 minutes of class 2 Dylan wave-wheeled his scud over a little wave only to land on a rock & snap his paddle in half. A few minutes trying to figure out which boat we could fit the larger of the two halves into. Finally we were moving again (Dylan now using our only split paddle).

The gradient picked up & we soon made it to the mandatory portage with a spectacular yet dodgy seal launch. Horizon lines everywhere we read & ran heaps of class 3-4 water. Occasionally having a short scout or jumping out for photo opportunities.

Freight Train was a sweet two stage drop which made for some awesome photos & video.

Olly Yeoman catches the Freight Train. Photo Antz Longman

Pete Simpson hitting the bottom drop of Freight Train. Photo Antz Longman

Time was still ticking so we kept moving finally breaking for tea at about 5pm midway through a big portage.

Dinner time. Photo Antz Longman

Finally we made it down to the big ones! Little Brother & Big Brother.
We all hit little brother, but I was feeling the effects of a long day & not enough food so opted out of Big Brother.

Kent & Pete running Little Brother. Photo Antz Longman

Dylan bottom drop of Big Brother. Photo Antz Longman

Olly boofing the bottom drop of Big Brother. Photo Antz Longman

After big brother the gradient stays consistent & you have fast moving grade 3 for about 4kms until a short flat water until the confluence with the Kawarau.

By this stage we were all well & truly tired. We just had the matter of dealing with a big water finish. Citreon flowing at about 300cm3. Pete went 1st as we opted for the "bomb it strategy" no scouting. Pete went left, hit the buffer really high and got launched skyward. We all quickly changed lines and hit the right of Citreon Rock.
I was 3rd through, came through to see pete still upside down on the left, infront Dylan was upside down amongst some huge crashing waves.
Had to keep focus for a few more minutes paddling through the crashing waves I made it to the bottom without flipping (so did Kent). Not so for the other boys, Pete was upside down for most of the rapid, Dylan contemplated pulling as he became disorientated from waves & having no indicator on the paddle shaft. Olly got back looped coming into the top of the right line.

Huge smiles & a massive stoke factor as we floated the final kilometre down to the takeout.

Was a massive day, absolutely stunning & will be hard to top. Although was an expensive day:
Snapped Paddle - Dylan
Cracked Boat - Olly
Possibly Cracked Boat - Antz
Lost Memory Card - Antz (it belonged to Pete)
plus petrol & food.

But really money can't buy the satisfaction that you get from having an awesome adventure with some good fella's.

Cheers boys still stoked on the good times.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Waipori Slalom

It had been over 4 years since I entered my last competitive slalom race. Back then I was in 6th form at Taieri High hanging out with mates and having a good laugh on the river. I had no knowledge of river dynamics, strokes (except a healthy power roll), or much more than the basics of slalom.

Today I headed out to Waipori for race 1 of the South Island series. The race had been organised by Dylan Thomson & OCKC. First of all I had no boat, and definetely hadn't paddled a long boat in ages. Caleb Woodside my old paddling partner from high school came along too he hadn't even been in a kayak for over 3 years.

Caleb's brother Josh lent me his slalom boat for the 2 race runs. My first run was a little shaky through the staggers & definetely well behind the regular slalom racers.

Race 2 started off well through the upstreams and first set of staggers, I thought I was going well! Then while going for gate 14(downstream)I caught a rail and flipped. Not sure if I even went through the gate... I rolled up in time to catch gate 15 & paddle down through the last couple of gates.

Overall I ended up 13th out of 21. Great fun being back in a competitive atmosphere & picking up more knowledge from the regular racing crew. Might even have to venture to the next race in the series at Hawea! All depends on my workloads though.

Cheers go out to Dylan & everyone who made it a good day out on the river.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Big Wednesday - The Upper Waikaia

The middle of the week usually comes around & I'm hanging out for the weekend. This week my weekend got brought forward. Some quiet banter at the weekend and talk was raised of a mid-week mission to the Waikaia. Levels had been sitting looking reasonable for over a week and a keen crew had been found.

The Crew from Left: Antz Longman, Olly Yeoman, Dylan Thomson & James Dawson. Photo Blaka Hanna

Tuesday night saw 4 keen boaters packing into James's Subaru, 4 creek boats & a couple hours driving south to Gore. The cold weather that had been battering the south all Tuesday was gone when we awoke on Wednesday morning. Back into the car and our drive began. Heading out towards Piano Flat & the Waikaia takeout. We had been lucky and obtained the services of a Mr Blake Hanna as a shuttle driver We quickly headed further up the road to the Canton Bridge. The road to the Waikaia climbs steeply for a long time, we couldn't really believe that over the 12km shuttle drive we had climbed steeply over the entire drive.

Olly Yeoman acknowledges that the SDC doesn't want us to die up there. Photo Dylan Thomson

We got to the put-in and were welcomed by a lovely sign from the Southland District Council advising us that "We don't want you to die up there". Blake headed of back down the road & we started the walk down to the put-in.

The Waikaia was flowing on the low end of the scale, but as we started paddling the scenery was amazing as we made our way down to the 1st scout of the day.

1st up - paddle in between two large chockstones pop out the otherside a few strokes and over a 4-5m drop.
The rapids were seperated by short-long flat pools and then it would steepen up quickly and the water was filled with massive boulders creating drops, sieves, slides, portages. Everything that can be on a river was there. A few mandatory portages, one I should have portaged.... and good times on a new run for us all.

Antz coming out of the hole and auto-boofing the drop. Photo Dylan Thomson

We eventually got to what we think is the "Waterfall of Death" a 2m drop into a 4m drop. It was clean and ready to go. The paparazzi popped up (Dylan & myself) and worked on getting some still shots & video. Working some funky angles it was a great bit of fun.

Dylan Thomson about to launch the Waterfall of Death. Photo Olly Yeoman

James Dawsons tempts fate while Olly watches from below. Photo Dylan Thomson

An awesome day out, a little more water and the run would be stunning. Can't complain though it was a Wednesday and we all probably should have been studying.

Now its Thursday my calves are burning from boat carrying & I'm back into magazine mode. Although we still thinking about what to do next Wednesday....


Tuesday, October 10, 2006


BLISS-Fest was successfully held over the weekend, despite no water in the rivers over 50 boaters turned up to dominate the Dunedin beaches & have a good time.
Gareth Hutton made the mission from Timaru & took some sweet pictures of the sundays competition.
Dylan Thomson took out the men's event & Sophie Ballagh took out the ladies.

Heres a few pics from Bliss-Fest, all pictures copyright Gareth Hutton.

Christchurch's Ian Waterhouse going big with a donkey flip in the men's final.

Me, walking back after my heat...

Ladies winner Sophie Ballagh

Waiting for the bounce, Antz Longman

Men's Winner Dylan Thomson going for the tube...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Back in the Huka

I didn't really end up spending much time in Dunedin this weekend. After arriving back from Rotorua late on Thursday night, I was leaving again by early Saturday Morning.

Our plan to put our creekboats into use. Both Robin & I had been out of creek boats for months. (Well I hadn't been in mine since at least January!) Too much time in the little boat.

We drove straight to Central Otago with a predicted front bringing rain late on Saturday Night. For some reason we decided to head straight to Nevis Bluff to take a look, consensus it was big! Sitting at about 260 cumecs it was an entirely different rapid than when we've both run it at around 150. Huge waves and really big holes. We portaged down river left and put in below the the two top drops. Paddling the 2nd half was a quick re-introduction to being extra bouyant in a creek boat. I felt like I was being pushed around like a 3rd former in a rumble-line down the corridor.
I soon readjusted to the creek boat and we paddled down to Citreon, after some scouting we both opted for the right line around the Citreon Rock, I went 1st clean through the drop but flipped on some crazy water. I rolled up in time to find myself going backwards over another drop into a hole. I felt a firm thud as my boat connected with an underwater rock, I rolled up and quickly caught the next eddy possible.

Looking up I saw Robin run the drop fine then his eyes grow as he realised how big the water was. He missed an eddy and continued on through the big pushy water and caught an eddy after the rapid. I followed down and we were soon floating to take out. A quick hitch back to the car, and then we headed back to Cromwell for some much needed replenishing.
The weather reports were seeming a little unreliable, with no rain fall record & flows staying fairly similar we started questioning what Sunday's Mission should be.
We decided that we'd run with our initial plan and hope that the Young would be flowing high enough come Sunday morning.

We then drove to wanaka got some dinner and a cup of tea or two. Then on to the Albert-Town camping ground for the night. Robin in the tent and myself curled up in the back of the station wagon (Thanks for car Megan & Julia....)
We awoke in the morning to a light rain and we decided it was worth the risk to drive over to Makarora. While eating breakfast I heard a "Hey Antz" and turned to find Troy & Chelle camping next to us. They were down from Fox Glacier and off rock-climbing for the day.

1 hour down the road and we were opposite the Young River Valley, gearing up and hoping for a good day on the water. Just after 10am we set off walking, and we were still walking about 3 hours later.

The Young River is part of Mount Aspiring National Park and has a lovely walking track running up river left all the way to Young Forks. You would most likely enjoy the walk alot more if your weren't lugging a big plastic creek boat with you! The scenery was amazing though & I loved being back in beech forest.

Eventually we got to the young river flats & paused for lunch. We now had 6.5 kms of class 4+ water to take us back to our car at the main road.

Eddy hopping down the river we found some clean read & run rapids & also some need to scout blind drops. Our 1st portage was around a 2m chute that fed into an undercut rock. Neither Robin or myself felt compelled to risk a disappearing act underwater.

As we progressed the rapids started getting longer and stylier. We finally arrived at the crux rapid (Prioprism) and after some scouting we both got in our boats and ran some beautiful rapids.
The top of prioprism was a clean 2m fall which then wound around a few corners and lead into a big steep boulder garden.

We both got held up mid rapid by one hole and but managed to eddy out behind a rock before the next big drop.
The final big drop involved cutting behind one rock, letting the current catch your nose and swing your right back into the main flow, a big stroke to pull through the hole at the bottom & then catch your breath before the next 100m of rapids.

Robin went first, it looked like he was going to far right, then the last thing I saw as he dropped out of sight was the hull of his boat. Now I immediately thought that "that ain't right" so quickly paddled after him. I stayed hard against the top rock and then felt the current hit me and swing me back towards the right. I caught a glimpse of robin floating in boily pool, holding his boat. Not the nicest time to be out of your boat!
Robin self-rescued and pulled his boat into a small eddy, I followed behind, Robin had spotted his paddle floating downstream and quickly rushed after it jumping from rock to rock. Once all the gear was re-united and boat emptied we were back on the water.

It turns out Robin had gone hard right and the current pushed him into a small under cut. He felt his boat stop dead and got the instant feeling of "uh-oh" then what happened after that he couldn't really remember, but it all happened in a split second and then was cleaned up just as quick.

The river mellowed out from their on out with a few short rapids & and then a gentle float back to the car.
The paddocks were even full of new season lambs, some were still covered in blood and might have been born while we were on the water.

We were just left with the 4 hour drive back to Dunedin!

So that was another good weekend, Cheers Robin!