Sean Mc on Skynet

Off to Hokitika for some paddling (hopefully)

We finally got as far as Hokitika and were hoping to get a warm up run before hitting anything too hard. Trouble is that with water levels being so low, it was mainly heli runs that were working. Anyway we got a run on the the lower Kakapotahi river, we were told it was class III with a little of IV, we got off it wondering where the IV was. The following day it was off to the Waiho river with JP, Liz, Alan and Aisling. I’ve paddled some cold rivers in the past, including some glacial melt rivers in the French Alps, but nothing to date has been this cold. We put in roughly 400m from the Franz Josef glacier and were able to see chunks of ice running past us at the get on. There was nothing difficult on this river but it was fast and cold, none the less there were 2 swims, the swimmers will remain anonymous for now but I wasn’t one of them. We stayed in the town of Fox that night and got a huge dinner in one of the restaurants in the town. I can’t remember the name of it but it’s the saloon style one in the town and if I’m back that way again I’ll be calling in.

The next day we drove towards Queenstown and just figured on driving as far as we could that day but also doing some of the tourist stuff along the way. Most of it is just going ooh aah at the scenery but I think the Gates of Haast are worth a mention and the Blue pools, both of which we stopped at. We didn’t get as far as Queenstown that night but stopped in Wanaka.

Back on the water the following day when we paddled the roaring Meg section of the Kawarau. This was another class III run but with lots of boils and whirlpools, what fun it was.

The next river we did was the Shotover Gorge just outside Queenstown. The river is good with a unique feature, near the end you paddle through a 150m tunnel with a gradeIV move at the exit. The river needed a bit more water bit was still worth paddling. The highlight of the day was the shuttle back to the top to collect the cars. There’s a 9.5km dirttrack to get to the put on, and almost all of it is downhill, what a bike ride it was great!!

After this we went into Queenstown for some food and started driving to Te Anau. It was after 8pm when we left Queenstown so we didn’t get as far as Te Anau, we camped at the side of the road about 40km before Te Anau. We met up with Liz and JP in Te Anau the following morning and drove to Milford. Out in Milford there wasn’t much water in the rivers but we paddled various stretches of the Hollyford river. The campsite we stayed in was unique, Gunn’s camp, it was really remote and only had a generator for electricity. The cabins had woodburning stoves for heat which was great.

posted by SeanMc @ 12:10 AM,

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