Thursday, April 30, 2009

California dreaming

I'm not jealous of everyone who's going to California this/next week to go creeking at all.

Why would I be when I've got cold wet Rotorua to stay home for.


Of course I'm jealous, I've even had sadistic thoughts of hoping people get savage beatdowns to remind them that back to back summers and clean granite 20 footers aren't all they're cracked up to be.

More lies.

I'd happily take beatdown every day to be getting on a plane for LA tomorrow bound for 30 degree days and endless slides.

But anyway, enough of the ranting, last weekend there was a massive crew in Vegas and after the mandatory party on Friday night, we succumbed to the peer pressure from B and rallied to do a run of the entire Kaituna. As always, there was a token hungover person (Berno), and it just so happened that he was also the only one who hadn't paddled trout pool, awesome gorge, gnarly gorge or smokey gorge - ideal.
So we put on and did the normal run, and then awesome, and then all of a sudden people had stopped talking and joking (and breathing fo some of us) because now we were in the last eddy before you drop into Gnarly gorge. For those out there who aren't kayakers (and for those who are), the best way to describe this gorge is like the biggest set of stairs in a house with the highest walls you've ever seen in your life - it literally just drops away in a non stop twisting, turning white rollercoaster. At one point I was back paddling flat out to stop from crashing into Jamie and Berno who were checking out the bottom of the river side by side.
The lines all turned out to be super cool and easier than I thought they would be but its still definitely the most committing place I've ever been into. After gnarly we busted down through smokey and were met with hot chips by Soph and Hess, Chur!!! It was a mean day and a cool feeling to paddle all the sections of the tuna in one go.

On Sunday we drove down to the central plateau to hit up the upper Waihohonu which is a walk in trip that is spring fed and flows off the side of Mt Ngaruhoe. This means it flows all year and you get some sweet, super tight, super low volume creeking for the easiest 1 hour walk in ever.
The river keeps dropping into these crazy little mini canyons which mostly have a big(ish) entrance drop and then tight little rollercoaster sections to exit. It's all pretty easy to scout but hard to portage and the gorges all look real scary because you cant see around the corner, (then it turns out to be flat) so there were a few nervous faces at some of the entrances to the gorges.
About halfway is the crux of the run, it has several names, none of which are super inspiring - touching dicks with the devil, the drain plug and the death sieve being the worst of these. As these names imply there is a terrible sieve on one side, and a slot on the other side and the catch is that you want to run as close to the sieve as possible. But not too close. Then its a slide over a rock into a 20 footer. It's one of those situations where the portage is worse than the rapid though so we all ran it.
The rest of the run was sweet except for butters and soph logging some out of boat time and Butters folding his brand new Mystic. Guts.
Then it was back to Taupo for a roast and a spa courtesy of Anna - she's amazing, and a general shit talking session about the last two days.
I didn't manage to get any photos of these days so you'll just have to take my word for it but on Monday we went to a little park and huck out of Turangi to cap it all off.

Soph styling Poutu falls

Jamie lining her up

Berno off the lip.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Freestyle nats

A while back we had the freestyle nationals at Fulljames just out of taupo. While it wasn't a huge turn out, what improved it vastly was the fact that it was the Auckland canoe clubs annual trip to Fulljames too. Basically this meant they were having a massive party on the Saturday night which we were shamelessly going to take advantage of.
The comp was sweet, sunny as, a cool bunch of people and the added bonus of watching the hapless aucc paddlers swim down the rapid at regular intervals.
It goes without saying that we had a massive night on the Saturday and then after a few more sessions on the wave on Sunday we called it quits. We even managed a cheeky Huka run on the way home to cap it all off perfectly.

(all photos c/o Brendan Bayley/Soph Hoskins)
Josh winding up

B throwing down

One of the crazy ass Jetskiers who hadn't quite mastered the concept of "I'll have a turn, then you have a turn" prefering to blue angel that shit and nearly land on top of each other.

The crew in the lead in to Huka

Soph busting her first time off the drop

If that's not a happy face I don't know what is.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fast times in Tauranga

It was the week after Bullerfest (a massive kayaking party disguised as a competition) and I still hadn't made it home yet. I was doing some instruction on the Mohaka and thanks to the wonders of technology (apparantly Iphones get reception there) we heard it was dumping down on the Kaimai ranges in Tauranga. The Kaiamai's are home to some mean creeking runs like the Tuakopai so I was super keen to get amongst it. After rolling into Okere falls on Friday night and getting in touch with Mr Barnabus Young and Greg Thomas, it was all go for some sweet creeking on Saturday. 
Greg had all sorts of options on offer but the one which seemed like a goer was the upper Ngamuwahine. Only run a few times by some of the locals, word was that it had a super steep section and some cool drops. So after meeting up with some more of the crew at the take out we headed right around the other side of the ranges to get to the put in for what was hopefully going to be a mean day.
The old nerves were jangling a bit as we put on, mostly due to the fact that Greg and Blair kept reminiscing about the last time they ran it "Oh bro remember when I got concussed on that drop and then swam the next rapid...."
Anyway, the run had a fun little grade 4 lead in with some cool moves and then we came around the corner to see the river disappear over a horizon line. 
And then another horizon line.
In fact from what I could see, the next eddy was a long way and lots of stacked drops down.
The first couple of drops we portaged due to the rocks which lived at the bottom of them but then it was straight into handlebars, a 30 foot slide with a kicker 2/3rds of the way down which had sent people 'over the bars' so to speak. 
from there it was a couple more drops, then a rest, then into another sweet double drop which saw some interesting lines. 

Barny looking back up at handlebars and the drops above it

Matt coming over the exit drop of handlebars

DJ somehwere in the middle of the big slide

Me running the bottom of the double drop 

After the double drop, the gradient sat back down again and there was some more sweet grade 4 down to the take out. Then some of us ran the normal Ngamuwahine run and out into the Mangakarengorengo for some sweet bigger water, while the others went and did the shuttle.
All in all she was a mean day - bring on the winter storms!

(All photos c/o Barny Young)

Central Plateau

The central plateau has some sweet rivers and even better it has some sweet waterfalls. We did a mission down there to go and ride some of these bad boys. Matariki falls on the Whakapapa river was the big one that B and Tyler had been eyeing up so we went to check it out. 
(all photos c/o Tyler Fox)

It turned out that the river was pretty low and no one was keen to take on the falls at that flow. So now we were stuck above a 40 - 50 footer that we couldn't run and a big walk back out.
 So we took option C. 


After chucking the boats off and then ourselves we went to run another little drop on the Whakapapa road so Josh could test his new wire cam system.

The backdrop for the day

Unfortunately Josh's batteries were flat so the wire cam didn't work, but it was still a fun drop to play on.

Josh filming with me running it.

Place of the drifter

In the centre (ish) of the north island, there is a place, which to quote Sam Sutton is, "the epicentre of the world". I'm unsure about the world bit but I would have to concede it is possibly the epicentre of north island kayaking. I recently found out that Okere means 'place of the drifter' in Maori. This is probably the most apt name for a kayaking community anywhere in the world as kaykers are notorious for travelling the world chasing summer. Okere falls is located on the edge of lake Rotoiti, 15 minutes out of Rotorua and is home to a cool bunch of kayakers, a sweet sweet local store, and most importantly, the Kaituna river. 
With warm water, a short shuttle, a mean playhole, cool waterfalls, and some tight, long and committing gorges, the Kaituna is a kayakers paradise. Here are some photos to do the talking.  

Butters busting a loop in the hole.

The picturesque Okere falls

looking out over the lake

Jamie in the guts of smokey gorge (photo- Tyler Fox)

Me in the goodness that is smokey gorge (photo- Tyler Fox)

Smokey falls (photo - Tyler fox)

Basically the Kaituna has four sections. The top section is the most well known with heaps of cool rapids in a very short (1.5km) gorge. This makes it super popular and easy to run. Below the normal run is awesome gorge which is spectacular as it is only two metres wide in places with 50 metre high walls, the run is basically a hydroslide for kayaks with not many places to stop once you're in. Below awesome gorge is gnarly gorge. There is a good reason it is called gnarly gorge - it is steeper, higher and more committing the awesome and I heard a quote which pretty much summed it up the other day "bro if there were no trees in gnarly, there wouldn't be any rapids". Sound like fun? Below gnarly gorge is smokey gorge. Brendan Bayley and Tyler Fox are the curators of this gorge with the most runs, quickest run and darkest run (head torches anyone?) and will promote it at every opportunity (hence the darkest run). This gorge is mind blowing! the river widens out and almost turns bouldery and then its basically a three hour waterslide with no pools and a few bigger rapids in there to keep you on your toes. Then it has a 45 minute, dead flat paddle out to feed your k1 fetish.  
The Tuna is a mean place to hang, hence me spending half of my summer there. Massive chur to Lu, Tyler, and the girls for letting me crash at their places all summer like the bum I am. 


Summer has definately been a mixed bag. On the one hand I got diagnosed with Hodgkins disease right at the start of the sunny season. This meant chemo every second week, being hungover for five days straight, no drinking, and getting sunburnt in five minutes flat. "Sounds average" I hear you say  - and you would be partly right. BUT - there was an upside... Turns out that I was now one of those people who you pay your taxes for; thats right, Auntie Helen (and now uncle John) were going to give me money every week because I couldn't work for summer... So for nine days out of every fortnight, my car got loaded up and with my sickness benefit in hand, feeling good as gold, I'd go trundling off on an adventure.
 The glass is definately half full...

The mighty Rolla on a mission on the central plateau

Chasing water.

What up.
So basically I made a blog so I can feed my ego and to hopefully keep everyone (if there even is anyone) up to date on the happenings in my life that I think are pretty choice. Chasing water seems to be a theme which covers nearly everything I do 
and hopefully over time there will be missions from kayaking, wakeboarding, surfing, snowboarding and kiteboarding which will give people something to look at and maybe even inspire someone to get out there and get amongst it.

Work less. 

Play more.


Photo - Tyler Fox