Wednesday, March 19, 2008

North Island, NZ: Ol' Blue Moves South...

After livin' the easy life on the Kaituna for a few days, Ol' Blue was gettin hungry for something new. We headed to the other local Bay of Plenty run, the Wairoa. River goats warmly welcomed us to their home as we did two runs on this classic river. No pics of the rapids, but the river character reminded me of my home run back in Boonetown, the Taugs. Mint!!!

This is a really gorgeous gorge, ruined by my ridiculous mug. (Sorry about that!) But the picture allows me to say how amazing the Awesome Gorge is. After the Wairoa, we had to start heading south to catch a ferry in few days time, down to the South Island. We thought it'd be rude to drive by the Kaituna without doing one last run, so we stopped, and ended up getting to run the elusive Awesome Gorge beyond the take-out. It is a chilled out gorge, rapid-wise, but with walls shooting straight up on both sides, making eddies non-existent, and the awe-factor indeed awesome! Cheers to Sam for taking us in there, and to Tyler for rallying to do a second run!

This picture presents our next stop...the Aratiatia rapids of the Waikato River. These infamous rapids have a bigger reputation down here than Lord of the Rings. Sam Sutton, a cat I'd met briefly in Cali and again on the Kaituna, was super keen to come show us what they are all about. Thanks for that, bro!!!

Basically, the Aratiatia rapids are released four times a day, mostly just as a tourist attraction. Sam broke the rapids down into three separate pieces, Rapids A, B and C. This is a picture of Rapid A with no water in it. With water, it becomes a monstrous big water chargefest, with high burl potential. The crux of the rapids is at the end of Rapid A, where a lethal weir is formed. Rapid B is a ridiculously full-on meltdown move that is a guaranteed burlfest. And Rapid C is the reward for all your hard work, a straight up chargefest that GOES!!! Once down at river level, scouting Rapid A from the top gave a better perspective of the challenge that lay ahead. My heart was pounding harder than I think it ever has. The roar of the water, the reputation of the rapids, Sam's talk of "If I die..." and the steepness of such a large amount of water all were swirling about in my head, asking me the question...Do you really want to drop into this? After seeing Sam grease his line and letting my heart rate clam down a bit, I was ready to give it go. I could talk for hours about this experience, but all I'll say is that it went great, and I couldn't have been happier. Thanks to Sam for firing us up about the whole gig, cheers to Jamie, Tyler and Ryan for setting safety at the Weir (A MUST!), and thanks to Wheels for shooting footy!

(Video footage of the North Island, including Aratiatia, to appear soon on Rapid Transit Video!!! Keep yer eyes peeled for that!)(VIDEO HAS BEEN PUT ON-LINE...linkage on the Team Riot Blog.

The next day we were reminded why we risk so much, just to run whitewater...because if the Nazis come and kill us, then at least we've done something productive with our time on this earth! If you're wondering what is productive about kayaking, go kayaking and then think about it.

Next up on our journey south was a run called the Ohinepango into the Waihohonu River. The gorgeous scenery enjoyed while waiting for Ol' Blue to be dropped off at the bottom could be considered foreshadowing for what was to come on the river. This is me looking east.

Then I turned around to the west, and watched this volcano erupt right in front of my eyes! Turns out, they were just clouds. The day ended up being a real treat. The Ohinepango was a constant class III rapid containing no eddies, and a few micro-gorges with small waterfalls in them. The width of the river at its widest point, was 8 feet. To stop, you had to grab hold of the rocks or grass on the edge of the creek.

Then it dropped into the Waihohonu, which was absolutely, stunningly beautiful. Crystal clear water, gorgeous native bush and blue bird skies made this day on the river most excellent. This is a picture of Wheels scouting the "mandatory portage," which was runnable.

Waterfalls poured into the river from cliffs lining the bank. This picture does absolutely no justice of its wonder, but again we could have sworn we were on some remote run in the jungle of Central America! The monkeys were everywhere...and they wouldn't stop banging their cymbals.

After spending the night at OPC, (the Sir Edmond Hilary Outdoor Pursuits Center...Sir Ed passed away within a couple days of our stay there. New Zealand was completely devastated to loose one of its heroes...mad props to one brave dude!!!) we drove right along the Tongariro National Park. The park is NZ's oldest National Park, and contains three active volcanoes...Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe (pictured), and Tongariro.

Even if there aren't any National Parks to drive through, or volcanoes to gawk at, driving in New Zealand is anyways nice! Anytime you hit the road, you know you're about to go somewhere amazingly cool, and getting there will no doubt be gorgeous! Ah, the freedom of traveling!!!

Kiwis are so stoked about kayaking, they actually grow kayaks out of the ground. They're like flowers...without petals.

The last river we hit on the North Island was the Rangitikei. For some reason, floating down another river that was stupidly pretty, was a great way to spend yet another day in New Zealand! Here's Wheels floating through "the Narrows." A bit of a different feel from the Gnars back home! But still great, nonetheless.

Wheels dropping into a bit of some of that water in the color of white.

This is Ol' Blue in its element. Boat on the roof, chillin' next to some water, itchin' for the next adventure. This is a picture taken from the porch of Anthony and Marina's place. Thanks to them for putting us up for the night in style!!! (If you're keen to do some sea kayaking in Fiji, or some hiking in Italy, these two cats are the people you need to talk to. Check out Tamarillo, their tropical adventure company!)

This is a picture that is worth clicking on to enlarge. The view from the point just around the corner from Anthony and Marina's place. Sweet as!!!

The trip moves on to the Mainland, the South Island, this is the boat that took us there. Stay tuned for the real action...dragonflies, cavities, bus chases...oh MY!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, the one about the Nazi's is my favorite, followed in close second by the kayak flowers without petals, and then the dreamy description of the river with water in it. Adventure, dude! Focus.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous zog said...

Looks like a big time! We were missing you today on the Fork. Adam

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cooper Lambla's Excellent Adventure... at a theatre near you!

7:03 PM  

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