Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tiki Tour Part II - Waitaha

After our awesome two days on the Whitcombe we left Daan in charge of co-ordinating our next trip and headed back to Greymouth to catch up with Ronnie and Killa and a mean feed of fish 'n chips.

Wish you could have been here for this mish Si!

Daan showing us the way

We were all keen to get into something none of us had paddled before and with our last pay checks still going strong we decided on another heli-run, the Waitaha.

Fatty getting the rail grind going

As Bruce Dando wasn't in action we were flying with another pilot Dan Reedy. Dan parks his chopper a lot further from the mountains than Dando so we needed another group of paddlers to bring down the cost of the chopper. Daan found a group of Norwegian and English paddlers who were keen to share the cost of the chopper but do their own thing on the river. Ideal.

Pete Lodge lining up Nikki Kelly's Drop

The Tuna loves to boof! (photo Mike Verberne)

Gorgeous gorges on the Waitaha

Daan cruising into the cave rapid

Pete trying a different line

The Waitaha is an amazing coast run, clean clear water, beautiful scenery and super sweet rapids.

Daan on a tight boof to slide maneuver between two house sized boulders

If it looks good from the chopper its bound to be great at river level! (photo: Pete Lodge)

After about 3 hours of cruisy paddling we reached the mouth of Morgans Gorge and a split team decision. Pete was super keen to get in there and check it out but with a bit of a lack of beta on whether it had changed since last season we decided to opt for the portage instead.

Pete really really really wanting to go check out Morgans Gorge

Daan loving it! (photo: Pete Lodge)

Me, somewhere (photo: Pete Lodge)

Fatty and Daan, just cruising (photo: Pete Lodge)

photo: Pete Lodge

About one hour into the portage us three Kaituna boaters were hating on walking pretty hard, occasionally we would catch tantalising glimpses of whitewater far far below us. Just to exacerbate our indignation at having to carry our boats, all the rapids we could see looked good to go. Daan in the meantime had shouldered his boat without complaint and disappeared off into the distance.

Finding my way through a cool little rock garden (photo Daan Jimmink)

Sapphire water and funky rock formations (photo: Pete Lodge)

Fatty probing the line (photo: Pete Lodge)

Pete looking styley as usual (Photo: Daan Jimmink)

Another cool boof (photo: Daan Jimmink)

Eventually after two hours of portaging we were so over walking we decided to just bash our way down to the river and paddle the last few rapids of Morgans Gorge. Daan probed off a horizon line straight into a very sticky looking ledge hole. As he was first down there was no way of getting him out without boofing straight onto his head. After a massive amount of downtime alternating between being trashed and working his way from one side of the hole to the other looking for an exit he was forced to swim. Luckily he flushed out down the right side of the river which was much less sievey than the left side. Once Daan was reacquainted with all of his gear we paddled the rest of the river without any dramas and headed straight to Ross Tavern to beers and mixed grills!!!

Morgans Gorge...

Daan paying his dues... In whisky because he can't drink beer! Hard man. (photo: Jess Matheson)

When we passed the cars from team Norway/England we left them a note with our number telling them to contact us when they got off the river safely. As we were camping outside of phone reception it wasn't till the next day when we drove into town that we got the message from Nini that they still hadn't got back from the river. Turned out that they got lost on the portage and spent the night in the bush. Gutted for them but at least they were all okay.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2012 Whitewater Extreme Series

So last weekend was the first 2 events of the 2012 Whitewater Extreme Series. On Saturday we had a time trial race down the Kaituna, you got two runs down the river from the dam to the bottom hole and the fastest combined time won. Heres the time results.

Kenny Mutton and Louise Jull the winners of the Kaituna Time Trial

The next event was the Wairoa Extreme Race. For the Wairoa race everyone has a time trial starting from the seal launch rock below McLarens Falls to a spot above the top waterfall. The time trial results are used to rank everyone from fastest to slowest and these positions decide who you are up against in the head to head races.

Jorg and Greg doing their best impressions of goldfish

Josh and Dan battling it out

Nikki and Lou with a bit of friendly competition

The head to head races start above the top waterfall and finish on river left at the bottom of the 'rollercoaster' rapid. The race format is knockout style with the fastest person in the time trial racing the slowest and so on. This is the first time head to head races had been held on this section of the river since last summers floods changed the rapid. The 'new' rollercoaster provided just as much if not more entertainment for the spectators than the 'old' rollercoaster with plenty of lead changes throughout the length of the rapid.

Ryan showing whose boss

Me and Nikki in the women's final

Jamie and Kenny battling it out

Me and Jamie

All of these photos were taken by Shilo Gibson thanks Shilo for taking the day off work to help out with the safety and paparazzi side of this event.

Mens head to head results
Women's head to head results

Jamie Sutton took out the Men's title for the second year running and I was stoked to take out the Women's title for the 3rd year running. Huge thanks to all the people who supported the event, Pattie and Neil Sutton, Rochfort Paddles for providing a paddle as a spot prize, Kaitiaki Adventures for providing the start raft and Rotorua Rafting for providing the safety raft. Most importantly massive ups to Louise Urwin and Brendan Bayly for organising the entire weekend and sacrificing their own races so everyone else got to have fun thanks guys!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tiki Tour Part 1 - Upper Whitcombe

Last week I went on the most random road trip so far in my life. I'd just finished work for the day, 3 raft trips on the Kaituna, when Pete and Fatty rocked up asking if I would like to go kayaking. Well it was phrased more as an order than an offer "you're coming kayaking, we're going to the Rangitiki". Seeing as I had the next day off work I grabbed my paddling gear and a sleeping bag and jumped in the car with them. Nek minit...

Killa destroying a chicken at Greymouth beach

I'm not sure who said it first but most of the way to Taihape we were cracking jokes about how funny it would be if we just kept heading south and didn't go back to work.

Jess coordinating our cash

We couldn't come up with any good reasons to go back to Rotorua but we could think of millions of great reasons why we should keep heading South. As Fatty put it "Taihape is halfway to Wellington, and Wellington is halfway to Hokitika so we're kind of halfway there already".

Dan helping us out with the shuttle

So we called the bosses "hey Wrighty, can I have a week off work, starting now?". Amazingly they said yes! Shot Kaitiaki and Kaituna Cascades for being awesome and giving us time off work!!! So we continued driving in a southerly direction figuring everything would work itself out along the way....

Still wondering if we're dreaming

I once read a book called The Alchemist by a guy named Paulo Coelho. He introduces an interesting concept that everyone has their own 'personal legend'. According to the book, if you try to realise your dreams and follow your personal legend the universe will conspire to help you on your way. That idea pretty much sums up our 'tiki' tour because two days after leaving Rotorua we were on a chopper heading up to the top of the two day Whitcombe.

me testing out the Tuna on the coast

Pete was the only one who ran this drop, boof the gap land on the rockslide then run the holes after

Weka making it look good

Big ups to DOC for providing the hut

Shot Weka

Jess styling it

Daan proving coasters can boof too

Fatty with a Kaituna boof

Cool rocks, cool rapids, 2 day Whitcombe is a sweet little mission


Daan leading the way

then back to Greymouth for some mean fish n chips, great carbo loading for the next days paddling mish!