Tuesday, April 7, 2009

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. 

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