Friday, March 16, 2007

Murchison with the Girls..

Megs & Kim had just finished their first 6 week posting for the Physio year & were keen to escape the city and go for a paddle.
Hoping that the rain that had hit the west coast had reached Murchison we hit the road.

Straight into the Lower Matakitaki, I quickly realised that it was lower than week before, we slowly negotiated our way through the first few sections. Near the end I managed to pin myself on an undercut rock. Still able to breath and knowing that as long as i didn't move I was alright I waited for Megs & Kim to get into a position of safety.

After about 5 minutes (no exaggeration) I was contemplating my options.

- push myself backwards and hope to flush off the other side of the rock, then tuck to my boat to avoid being pummeled by more rocks.
- pull deck and hope the changed water pressure would move the boat (or potenially pin me worse)
- reach over the rock and try and pull forward and through the small gap between the two rocks.
- use a throw bag to get a lateral pull from the girls on the bank.
- and i'm sure some other plans were thought of too.

I felt around and tried to push backwards to no avail, I then felt underneath the rocks I was pinned against & realised that their was a lot of water pushing through a small gap below me. A gap that I wouldn't go through very easily!
I found a new hand hold on one of the rocks and managed to pull myself higher out of the water, which gave me enough power to pull over the top of the rock. I stalled slightly as the boat tried to fall into a crack, but quickly came to rest in the water on the other side.

A decent little scare, and an interesting situation. All turned out alright but another reminder of how quickly things can change on the river.

We finished the run and headed down to check out ariki falls (again lower than i've seen it. Not keen to drop into the churning/surging hole at the bottom. Camp was at the Earthquake put-in, sandflys made the night miserable and got us out & on the river early the next morning.

A scratchy run killed our enthusiasm and we decided to head back to Christchurch. Mental note Murchison low can be a little bit annoying/boney.

Having trouble attaching photos right now, so no pretty pictures to look at :(

Greenstone Instructing

Straight after Bullerfest I headed south to Queenstown & then on to the tip of the Lake and the Greenstone River. I was there instructing for Wakitipu High School.

The river section we used under the bridge was grade 1, which proved an interesting location to introduce the kids to paddling as their were no eddys, or decent still sections. The 1st day was spent rotating groups of 3-4 kids through strokes and then negotiating the one small eddy we had available.

The following 24hours were a torrential downpour, the 1st rain Queenstown had seen in over a month, everything went from pristine green water to chocolate thickshake with logs. Luckily the bulk of the rain fell during the day that we were'nt kayaking.

Sarah-Jane & I snuck away and went to check out the Routeburn in flood. The route burn normally being a class 4 boulder drop creek was instead a mass of crashing waves/holes. Bearing a higher resemblance to a big water run on the Kawarau. We headed back to camp where Ken McIntyre & I jumped on the swollen Greenstone for a slalom training session, SJ was feeling sick so I got to try out her brand new Double Dutch Slalom boat, was awesome to be back in a slalom boat and feel the speed and satisfaction of carving some sweet turns. Also felt the burn of training with Ken. (Just 5 more..... 10 later!)

Our next day of kayaking was re-positioned to the lake front, which gave the kids more of a chance to play around in their boats and learn strokes etc.

After that SJ & myself headed back in town for a feed of the legendary FERGBURGER, picked up a hitchhiker in Glenorchy or was one of the stinkiest people you could ever have the experience of smelling. We shoved him in the back of the van :D

A quick stay at my parents & i was back on the road to Christchurch. (6 hours of boring driving). Next mission.. back to murchison with Megs & Kim for the weekend.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Buller Festival 2007

Around the first weekend of march each year the infamous Buller Festival is held in Murchison. Around 3 1/2 hours drive from Christchurch I made my 1st ever pilgrimage to the event. This years event held on the 2nd, 3rd & 4th of March was ripper.
I just made it in time to enter the Extreme Race on the Lower Matakitaki Section. First up was a time trial to create seedings for the head 2 head races. I came through in the middle of the pack and was paired off with 3 others who had similar times to me. The winner of the time trail gets paired off with the slowest etc.

1st head to head race I got out of the blocks quick, after a few paddle blows & some pushing/shoving! I was well clear at the finish and touched the Teva Banner stoked. Next round I moved up and was racing against Sam Sutton from Rotorua (little ripper) a big charging swede and someone else. Some slow strokes straight out saw me playing catch up to Sam & the swede. Didn't quite make it and that was my extreme race over.

The finals saw a completey different line up to 2006 with some fresh faces making an impact in the race. Men's final was Sam Sutton, Zak Shaw, Josh Neilson & Nate?

Zak blew the field away a clear winner leaving the other boys to scrap it out for 2nd/3rd. Josh snuck in with 2nd & Nate took 3rd.

In the womens Nikki Kelly robbed Jess Brown at the final banner to claim yet another extreme race title for CV.

Saturday was a day of intense heat for the kayak slalom & rafter cross. A huge turnout and some fast times saw everyone amping for Saturday nights "rock the buller" party. Live music and general kayak riff raff kept the night going until the early hours.

Sunday morning was time for the big air, a slow moving herd of kayakers found their way to the Ramp site and proceeded to hurl themselves off the ramp in a range of gyrations & aerial donkey flips.

Zak Shaw on his way to winning the final - Photo Antz Longman

Josh vs Nate for 2nd place - Photo Antz Longman

A quality write up on the event will be available in the next issue of CUMEC Magazine due out middle of April.

Results as I can remember were.

Extreme Race


1st - Zak Shaw
2nd - Josh Neilson
34d - Nate


1st- Nikki Kelly
2nd - Jess Brown
3rd - Polly



1st - Lucien Holgate
2nd -
3rd - Zak Shaw


1st - Louise Jull
2nd - Linda Wensly
3rd - ?

Big Air


1st - Nick Smith (with a leg in cast!)
2nd - Sam Sutton
3rd - Justin

Womens -

1st -
2nd - Louise Urwin
3rd -