Friday, July 3, 2009

Maraetotara Stream

Given that I'm from the Hawke's Bay, it's only natural that I would love it if there was a sweet creek run preferably within an hours drive of my house, with big drops, clean rapids and an easy shuttle. Sounds a bit far fetched I know, but I haven't given up just yet.
With a masssive storm thrashing the east coast I was watching the weather charts somewhat whimsically from up in Rotorua umming and aahing about whether to head back home to find some water. With awkward work hours and no one else to rally with I had basically given up hope. That is until Mr S. Davidson turned up at the Tuna on holiday from uni and jokingly I said to him "Bro shall we head to the bay tonight?"
No hesitation,
"Yeah bro lets do it"
So the foundations were laid for a long distance overnight mission to the bay to try and catch the water.
We cruised down home on Wednesday night and checked the flow guages praying it was still holding up. With about 12 cu she was looking good to go. So at the ludicrous hour of 5am (I'd forgotten that time of day existed) we were out of bed and on our way out to Waimarama beach.
Credit at this point must collectively go to Matt Danes and Joshy Neilson for finding and publicising this creek respectively. By some freakish coincidence it's one of the only watersheds in Hawkes Bay that has a flow guage which makes it easy to check etc.
With the flow peaking at 30 cu two days earlier and then bouncing up and down a bit (we put on with about 5cu at the top) we turned up at the farmers door (waking him up in the process) and got the low down on where to put on (below the floodgates/man made death sieves).

We knew there were some drops in there somewhere and for the first few hundred metres this was all that kept me going as we were constantly getting out to portage willow choked messes of rapids. We finally got to a mini gorge with more native style trees and the entrance drop was a sweet 1o footer. The next hour was basically more of the same - mini gorges with cool entrance drops and then some form of strainer/manky/sieve - some of which were runnable and some not so much.
I was getting slightly despondent at the amount of portaging we were doing and then we came around the corner to find the money section. A ten footer into a fifteen footer then a cool little double drop then a slide. The flow was a little low for them to be super clean but they still made it all worthwhile. After this was all little cascade/ledge things which again would be sweet with double the flow. Then in the true spirit of unplanned, spur of the moment missions we slogged through an hour of flatwater only to get forced off the river by more devil tree strainer pile ups. "Sounds average" I hear you think, and you would be correct except that we paddled past about three ideal takeouts kidding ourselves there were more drops 'just around the corner'
Anywho here's some pictures and a little vid of our adventure.

Now for the inevitable question.... Would I go do it again?? The top section is a catch 22 - the bigger drops would all profit from more water. But, then there would be heaps of savage strainers which may or may not come into play. The good section and everything down from there would be super sick with more water. All in all, if it comes up and I'm in the bay I'll definitely be back in there.