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!!!
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.