Monday, April 28, 2008

South Island, NZ: Round One

The good weather, ease of river access, warm water, and friendly people made the North Island quite an enjoyable place to hang. But it was time to go explore my new home, the Mainland (or South Island as it is otherwise known as!) Leaving the comforts of the North Island behind was an intimidating feeling...stories of "the Coast" (the West Coast is always referred to as "the Coast" here) were exciting yet nerve racking at the same time.

After a big night out in the port town of Picton our first stop was the Granite Section of the Buller, a relaxed playboating run to ease back into things. I remember as we put on mentioning something to the effect of, "I'm glad our sport involves sitting down!" This is a shot of Ol' Blue and Wheels at the get-out.

We then re-fuelled our mega-watts with the greatest energy source known to cream, and headed to the Lower Matakitaki just outside of Murchison for some more mellow playboating. Here we have Wheels, throwing some of his own in front of a gorgeous New Zealand background.

The next day we checked out another section of the Buller called the Earthquake Run. This section of river has dramatically changed many times due to frequent tectonic activity over the last century. Mass Wasting is awesome. So is kayak surfing. Maybe there could be a crossover sport that involves both. No, actually that would probably be bad. Never mind. Lets keep those two powers of awesomeness separate. This is a picture of me pulling my signature move...the front surf. Thanks to Anna from the Kayak School for the shot!

This was my first experience with the Coast. After the Earthquake Run, we made a huck off Maruia Falls (this can be seen along with action from the North Island on the Rapid Transit Video titled New Zealand North Island Cooper Lambla) and headed down to Christchurch, where Wheels had to go to work the next day. I then proceeded to cruise around town on his bike trying to find a way to transport myself and boat to the Coast. It finally came to me after a bus chase and $50 by way of Cedric and his friendly service "The West Coast Shuttle." I was dropped off at Kumara Junction where I intended to hitch down the remaining few Km to Hokitika, the Whitewater Capital of the West Coast. I didn't know where in Hoki I wanted to go, I didn't know anyone in Hoki, hell I didn't even know any rivers that were popular in Hoki...all I knew was that Hoki was the place to be, and I wanted to go there! Thanks to the German underground music collector who picked my boat, gear and I up in the rain! I should also thank Jess who then picked me up in Hoki and showed me where all the boaters were in town! (NOT shivering in the rain in front of the pottery shop it turns out!)

We went a few more Km south of Hoki to a campground called Mahinapua Lake, across the street from the famous Mahinapua Pub. Many great paddling adventures have found their origins from nights at this pub, including the next day's trip down the Styx River. My first river on the Coast. Fellow confederate, JJ Shepard, described it as a sieved out Big Creek, without Action Ally. A perfect run to start to get the feel of the Coast's continuous nature.

New Zealand has provided the background to many a film in its day, Lord of the Rings being the most famous. Often over-looked is a flick titled "Whale Rider." Here we have Tazzy cat, Thorpe, auditioning for the sequel.

Then we saw this sign, and stopped riding the whale.

After the Styx, JJ had mentioned flying in to somewhere the next day. I knew the river started with a "W", and that he said it was a big day out, so bring some food. That night looking out over the Tasman Sea at an awesome sunset, I had no idea what was in store for the next day!

Stay tuned for an epic day on the Waitaha River, my first heli-run!


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