Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Faaaarrrk. Went to the Wainui today, big rain last night and we drove in hoping there wouldn't be too much water. When we got on we realised it was pretty high and pushy - especially in the rapids. You know when you look at a rapid at low flow and think "This would be mean with heaps of water" Well I'd thought this about a lot of rapids on the Wainui and it turns out they kinda didn't do what I thought they would. The whole thing got pretty rowdy and just shunted through super fast.

Running the left boof that we've always looked at on B's rapid. (It must be noted that this was not intentional and I was pretty well peaking right here)

Mr Brown took himself out of the game early on (on the same rapid as above) grating a couple of his fingers down to the joints and slightly modifying his face as well.
This left four of us - John Snook, myself, and the slalom grommets to finish the rest of the run. Everything else went pretty smoothly, John decided to boof the 60 but luckily there was lots of water so it was a fluffy landing and no back issues...

Rolling into the freight train slide - at least all of the slides were nice and padded out today..

...and the view from the lip - apologies for the blurry shot, the old gopro was well fogged by this stage.

All up it was a sick day - the Tuna was awesome, it has definitely proven itself on the steep stuff now along with being all good off the big drop which I was interested to see how it would go. It still catches me out with how fast it comes out of holes and drops and I've had to throw in the odd backstroke to slow her down.

Still plenty of water around so we'll see what happens tomorrow...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A long time between drinks

Up until about mid June this year we were getting pretty regular rain every few weeks (which kept those of us not going overseas slightly happier). That all stopped just as winter really arrived and we got absolutely no rain in any of the catchments which have good creeking. Enter last week's storm. After an epic thunderstorm on Monday night - one of those ones that sent you running to your Mum and Dad when you were little, the Kaimais got just enough rain to make it worthwhile for me to take a mental health day and drag Mr Joshua out of bed for a foray into the hills.
While driving up the Kaimai summit road it soon became apparent that the only option was going to the the upper Ngamuwahine. This river drains the very top of the Kaimais and starts in a swamp on the plateau. Because of this it usually holds water for a day or so longer than the other creeks in the area. With a big shuttle, a savage 4wd track and a bit of a walk/paddle in, it definitely makes for a full days adventure.
We teamed up with Cole and Laurence - a couple of the Tauranga slalom grommets, (who we're slowly converting to the dark side and who may or may not have been skipping a day of school...) which made for a good little crew.
Here's a little video of the trip, I can't really claim to have edited this - it was more like Josh - 80%, me 20%....

Right now, I'm eating my toast and watching the rain come in sideways, my lawn has a lake on it and all my gear is soaking wet.
Can anyone say Wainui.....
Stand by.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Yea Nice

While I'm writing just now, I'm sitting in a house in Christchurch having just missed my flight back to Rotorua. Why you ask? Mainly because the four inches of snow outside have closed not only most of the roads in the south island, but lots in the north Island and all of the major airports in the south. Luckily we made it out of Queenstown yesterday with a lack of sleep and rather savage hangovers being the only hindrance to our travels.
The reason we were in Queenstown was actually due to us being in Wanaka for the week prior for a little event which I've been to for the last few years called the Burton Open. It's an excuse for me to A: Get off real work for a week, and B: ha
ve a weeks fully funded snowboarding in exchange for having to put some flags up each day (the reality is a little bit more harsh than just puttingflags up but you tend to forget the hard stuff....)
I also recently acquired a gopro so I decided to make a little edit of our week instead of yet another essay. Said week finished with the afterparty in Queenstown where we proceeded to try and drink two boxes of monster (not recommended) along with various other alternatives (highly recommended). Oh and we rocked out toshihad, Optimus Gryme and Sunshine Soundsystem until 5:30am. Hence the fun drive home. Same old.

Pipe Finals

Yea Nice.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Right here we go. After a nice long R & D period, Bliss Stick have got their new creek boat - the Tuna to almost production stage. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the first one out as a demo boat and have been paddling it for ten days or so now so I thought I'd share some thoughts on how she goes (for the overseas contingent)
Firstly - a few things to keep in mind: 1- I've only paddled it on the Kaituna - no steep creeks or big water yet but it still gives you a pretty good idea of how it performs. 2 - These are just the things I've noticed - obviously there are much better paddlers out there who are a lot fussier than me.

For anyone out there who isn't from lil'ol Nooo Zeeeland, Tuna isn't actually referring to the fish which lives in the ocean and is often eaten from a can. In this case there are a couple of different reasons for the name. Tuna is the Maori name for eel - and reflects posibly what Bliss Stick wanted from this boat, something that was sleek, fast and manouverable. Secondly, Tuna is the nickname for New Zealand's most famous and most used kayaking river (the Kaituna), and is where co-designer Kenny Mutton lives - you can find Kenny at the put in, every day, rain hail or shine, at 6:30am putting on for a race run (he even has a stopwatch taped to his paddle) These race runs are a big factor for why kiwis are dominating the extreme racing scene right now - almost every top kiwi racing paddler right now is based here.

Speed: This is the thing everyone has been asking for so I thought I'd start with that... I'm glad to say, comprehensively, that this boat is fast. Faster than any other creek boat I've paddled. The length and rocker on it are designed for speed and that's exactly what they do. The boat just lifts over everything and keeps driving in rapids, and on the flat water it sits nice and level and doesn't feel like you're bulldozing water. It will be sick to see it in the hands of the monsters who are actually fast at racing (unlike me) to see what they can do.

She's long - and fast

Hull: The hull on the Tuna is pretty interesting. Overall it has a flat bottom which carries right through to just behind the cockpit where it starts rounding off to the tail. It has a fair amount of rocker in the nose, and then goes dead flat under the seat. Finally, the tail kicks up with hardly any transition - almost like a playboat. It's pretty long - 256cm, but when I'm paddling it I don't actually feel like I'm in a long boat. Obviously being longer it's a bit harder to boof, but when you land it flies out of the drop without lifting the nose too high and losing all your speed.

The edges are a little bit sharper than a mystic but they are not super wide so the hull still edges easily - it doesn't feel like you're trying to tip a battleship over, and they are balanced really nicely - the boat is super predictable on the turn and very stable on edge. I like the kicked up tail rocker because when you flatten the boat off and jump on your draw in an eddy turn, the tail is clear of the water and the boat whips round on a dime. It's also up out of the way when you've got the boat flat in boily eddies (of which the Kaituna has an abundance of) and I haven't managed to catch a stupid edge in it yet. Lots of rocker in the nose means it jumps over holes - I haven't had the chance/misfortune to bury it underneath a decent hole yet but hopefully the rocker will make it resurface well and the big tail should stop her backlooping.

The tail on the Tuna is awesome. I'm only just starting to come out of my habit of expecting the tail to catch and bog when breaking out of strong eddies (like the chute). Instead, it just lifts and drives the boat across the current leaving you to concentrate on what is happening in front of you. It doesn't get caught in strong seams (like running trout pool direct) and gives you extra confidence to just keep on booking. It gives the boat a nice balance and keeps it driving over the top of boogie water instead of bogging down and losing speed.

Note the tail rocker - kicks up sharply just behind the cockpit.

The cockpit is the same, mean, comfy Bliss Stick one we're used to, the rim is a bit bigger than a Mystic so if your deck is tight on a mystic it will be even more so on a Tuna. I don't feel like I'm sitting in a big boat (even though it has a lot of volume). The other big boats I've paddled (Magnum 80, Habitat 80) feel a little bit like I'm in a bathtub, with the Tuna, the knee space feels quite low, as is the cockpit rim, giving you lots of room to reach/rotate. Even though the Tuna is designed for bigger paddlers, it will fit a huge size range due to the nice cockpit layout. My favourite part about the cockpit is how low it is at your hips - when I rotate for a sweep or go over on a brace I never catch my elbow on the boat - it feels a bit like I'm in an old school river runner.

There are some nice new design features which make the Tuna nicer to use etc. The grab handles are recessed into the deck of the boat so no more crushed fingers on the screw underneath when your lowering it on a sketchy portage. The bars behind your hips have also been done away with, this makes for the low point as mentioned above and also will hopefully make that part of the boat stronger. There's nothing to catch your thumbs on down the sides and the high point doesn't get in the way when you're on edge. Overall the Tuna is only a 1kg heavier than the mystic, although this may or may not change once they figure out the moulding.

Side on - pretty low profile

Mystic side view for comparison

The Tuna is quite low in the cockpit area - no big bulge in front of you

The only thing you might have to be careful of is flat landing big drops - the flatness of the hull underneath the seat might not be too forgiving. There is a pretty easy fix for this though... Get forward or don't boof so much! While it will fit a large size range, smaller paddlers will definitely have trouble boofing it simply because of the length - it is designed for bigger paddlers and will perform bettter for larger people.

My overall impression of it is that it does everything (so far) that I want a creekboat to do; It's ridiculously fast, stable both on edge and flat, and it turns well. I haven't found any weird habits and possibly the most important thing is that it's predictable. I jumped straight in it (admittedly from another flat-ish hull boat) and would be completely comfortable taking it straight into any run, grade five or other that I can think of. A good creekboat should make hard water easier and as far as I can tell, the Tuna will definitely do this. As much as I love the mystic, I think the Tuna will be my next creek boat for quite a while.

**If any of the cuzzies want to know any more details, chuck a comment on or facebook me. I've probably forgotten some key thing.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


What to do when you can't find anyone to go kayaking with in the middle of winter* - A photo essay**.

Unfrost vehicle. This is so you can perform basic operations such as open doors which have been frozen shut and see out of windows which are frozen over

Stop at splendid local cafe/store/beer garden. Try to get girlfriend to make coffee. Fail.

Intravenous caffeine not yet available. Settle for next best thing. Make own coffee.

Select music. Glitch not available - dubstep will suffice.

Try to avoid driving off road due to combination of aids fog, copious amounts of ice, texting, and trying to change music/fix Ipod all at once. Priorities people.

Too early? Never too early. Three creamy mayo cheese burgers thanks. Turangi love.

Faaarrrk. Start to question decision to go kayaking.

Stop questioning decision to go kayaking. Aha. Figured out where this was going have you?

First Tuna on the river. Ever.

Sneak peek. Full testing to commence tomorrow on the Kaituna. Because I was too scared to run the Rangitikei solo at 70cu. Bomb! Boom!

*Because someone who shall remain unnamed decided that mountains were more important. Cough. Bernard Oliver.
**For people who like photos. You know who you are Josh Neilson.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Snaffled this little gem off dark horse Bayly's blog of our high water run down the Mangawhio a couple of weeks back.

Sick times...

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Bit of a dry spell for the old blog posts lately. Reasons for this are along the lines of no decent camera, lots of other people doing updates on the same thing (the Wainui) and plain laziness.

*On a side note - There aren't any pictures in this post so if you're one of those people (who just look at the pictures).... you might be disappointed.

In non metaphorical terms, it has most definitely not been a dry spell. Apparently it has something to do with the El Nino year. Or is it La Ninia? I get confused. Anyway whatever it is, it's been keeping regular, big, grunty, northerly weather systems cranking down the bay of plenty coast which translate into two things. Firstly lots of rain in our favourite range - you guessed it, the Kaimais. At a rough guess I think I've been creeking every few weeks since Christmas which is basically unheard of. Secondly, the days after we go creeking are filled with more water sports due to the mean NE swells which have given the east coast of the country the best summer of surfing in a long time. I got a new board a while back and have been frothing on surfing lately which is a nice change from the Kaituna in a dry top.
Last month me, B and Ben went to the Mangawhio and got on at a high flow which was sick but made the entrance to the gorge quite exciting. Tragically there is a massive log right across the first drop in the gorge which necessitates a mongrel portage and ish nerve wracking seal launch back in for the 40 - where we all got pretty well violated in the boil. Happy days.

The last two weekends have been sick with good rain timing in perfectly for a run down the upper Ngamuwahine last weekend which holds its water a bit longer than others - it's got a cool steep section on it with a committing and pretty rowdy gorge and some fun rapids to finish with. Then yesterday we made the call to turn up to the Tuakopai to try and catch the water. We were bang on and got on right at the peak. Berno and myself bombed it and both flat landed the shit out of Douglas falls which rattled the teeth/spine - this was nowhere near as bad as Stefan Gilmour though who did the same on spa and got a cracked and compressed L2 vertebra for his troubles. Bit of a wake up call for a run which has become the 'easiest' in the Kaimais - get forward and stomp ya'll.
The Wainui also claimed another victim a while back with Douglas hurting his back on the 25 and only finding out the other day that he's got a crack in one of his vertebra as well which is average.

Ok so I lied, here's couple of photos -

Mr Brown doing his thing on the double drop on an earlier trip on the Ngamu.(shamelessy plagarised from louise Jull's blog)

And yet another photo of the biggy on the Wainui. Chur to Mike Dawson for snapping this one.

Hopefully the rains continue and we keep getting on all these sick creeks in our backyard and playing on the waves in our other backyard. Soon there will be enough snow to go and ride the white stuff in the neighboring backyard.
Stand by.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

We've been having a sick time here in the falls with Christmas and New years parties dominating the scene and various extra curricular activities filling in the gaps. Most of these gaps for the last two weeks have been wakeboarding and skiing at Orakei Korako (try pronouncing that one). I dragged Josh away from his supposed day of 'work' to come and play at one of my favourite spots anywhere in the world - I'm glad they dammed this part of the river... Anyway we found a choice new place for adventuring and Mr Neilson had the gopro so we filmed some stuff and he made a choice little edit.

"What did you do yesterday"

Waikato river day!!! from Southern Underground Productions on Vimeo.