From the Club Newsletter – here’s some accounts of what sounds like an amazing trip down the Waiau.
Thanks to Graeme for the Video.
(For best results – view on YouTube here)
Waiau Rafting/Kayaking Trip 7th to 9th November 2014
et off from Richmond 12pm in Nelson sunshine to meet other’s in 4WD’s at Rainbow Homestead to pick up key for gates to Rainbow Road. First problem only one key and so none for Trevor to use later in the day. A bit of frustration and delay and we are on our way following 2 motorcyclists as they had to share key. Lots of wonderful scenery – snowy mountains and arid flats. Dropped by Lake Tennyson for quick look and loo stop then through Malling Pass gate – 2nd problem – tricky getting lock open – is it the right code? Yes. Through, up and over pass – not for the faint hearted driver. Set up camp next to the river and light nice camp fire and had dinner and chat. Thanks Dale for apple cake – yum. Night closed in and full moon arose – thanks Trevor for organizing trip with great weather and full moon. It’s getting late, where’s Trevor? He had the 3rd problem of the day – lock upside down and couldn’t get key in – had to cut key in end. Arrived late but all’s well.
Next morning woke to heavy frost and sunshine. Geared up for the day. I set off in club kayak with Trevor’s gear in it and his PFD – I’m sure it was too heavy to actually add buoyancy to me. Nothing felt right – kayak had mind of its own and kept turning by its self so when I had to get out to pull it over some stones, then fell in water trying to get back in (checking water temperature – very cold) I decided to take up position on raft with Simon aka Rudder’s (guide) Jo, Bill, Sheryl and Don (The ‘A’ Team). River was a bit low and rocky to start before we started to get into some rapids. A great day was had under the wonderful sun. The guys in the front of the raft took most of the splashes of cold water. It was great watching the kayakers, other rafts and the ‘Rubber Ducky’ with Nora and Bevan in it. They had a couple of swims. The gear raft aka Blue Bus got stuck at one stage and we watched on as the rafting guys and girl leaver and pushed it off the stones. Lunch was a welcome rest and warm up after the excitement of the gorge. I love rapids!! Beautiful scenery of snow on the mountains and high eroded hillsides. I learnt about a native plant the Matagori – large thorns! Gets you in the night when you go pee.
Made camp on The Peninsular. Guides made yummy curry over open fire. Good night sleep then set off 9am Sunday for an even better day rafting. Large rapids, amazing scenery, great company. One raft got a hole from sharp rocks in gorge but guides repaired it while we checked out The Narrows – lots of boiling water, narrow gaps, vertical walls, and rapids – yah ha.
Kayakers then our raft started through. Having great fun until heard whistle, looked back to see paddles then swimmers coming through (Dee’s raft had flipped), our raft went into rescue mode with Simon shouting orders – over right, back paddle, get them in the boat!! We ended up with 10 in our raft! We continued through narrows collecting paddles and reassuring shaking swimmers. Hope Dale and Di aren’t put off rafting. Stopped at nice beach to have lunch and recover and tell each other of our experiences, asking if anyone got the action on movie. Several of us had Go Pros on our helmets. A movie night is in order to show the action.
Back on the river to enjoy the rest of the rapids then river opening up to a cruise to the Hope River confluence. Kayakers took the direct route to Pete’s vehicle. We took rafts around and up into the Hope. A bit of a trudge into the head wind to welcome vehicle, dry clothes and a wine or coffee. Only a couple of vehicles needed picking up from Hanmer thanks to shuttle drivers. Guides and others took UD vehicle and trailer went to collect rafts and gear, thanks.
Thanks very much to Ultimate Descent guides Mule, Tim, Simon and Dee, organizer Trevor, kayakers for support during rescue, Nora for key arrangements and everyone for their great team work and excellent company.
A Swimmer’s Prospective
Dale Roozenburg & Diane Winter
Swimming a grade 4 rapid is not really something I would recommend as a way to keep the boredom at bay on a Sunday afternoon and most certainly not for the faint hearted.
The trip had been absolutely fabulous with clear blue skies, amazing scenery, sparkling water with lots of great rapids, two nights camping and socializing and of course with a wonderful group of like minded people.
Saturday had been a lot of fun with just a few kayaks capsizing and a couple of paddlers falling off rafts, not to mention the gear raft getting stuck and taking a pounding as tones of water tried to sink it but our very skilled and experienced guides knew what they were doing and had freed it in a relatively short time while we all sat in the sun on the river bank and were entertained by kayakers playing in the rock garden.
When Sunday dawned we were all elated to have yet another stunning day and there was an element of nervousness and excitement that we would be negotiating one of the most challenging sections on the Waiau, The Narrows. Anyway Saturday had been awesome and there was no need to think Sunday would be any more or less exciting. When one raft got a puncture we all pulled over just before the Narrows to fix the puncture.
This took about an hour and during this time most went up to look down on what lay ahead of us and to work out the best strategy to get us all down safely. Our raft was the second to go and we whooped and hollered through the squeeze and the Narrows and zigzagged through the rapids like a crazy rollercoaster. Steve and Trevor, bag throwers, were just a blur as we shot past them straining to hear instructions of our guide over the roar of the river. We came round a corner and went sideway onto two rocks. There was no time to jiggle free and the force of the water picked up the raft from the port side and flipped us over. The 6 paddlers; John, Mark, Dale, Ev, myself and our guide Dee found ourselves dumped unceremoniously upside down and swimming in the cold water, some under the raft and some popped up beside it. I was pulled down river by the strong current, sucked under an undercut in a jutting out rock and popping out the other side right beside a raft and the T of guide Rudders’ paddle being held out for me.
I was pulled on board 45 seconds after the flip but it felt like a lifetime. Dee was also pulled on board at this point and Mark not long after. As for John, Ev and Dale they spent some time going in circles in an eddy and having a “chat” before being pushed back out into the main current and downstream to the waiting rescuers up to five minutes after entering the water. Ev had an attempt at getting onto the gear raft but missed it (there seems to be a pattern forming here especially as after the rescue was all over she abandoned our raft for a kayak).
After retrieving people, paddles and the raft we headed for the safest spot to debrief before heading back onto the water and yet more rapids.
The rest of the trip was uneventful and the river slowed and the scenery became lush and magnificent. It was a bit sad when our trip ended as it had been an amazing weekend and although it was a scary few minutes after being tipped out it did nothing to ruin what was an amazing trip and it certainly won’t stop us from future rafting trips. Thanks so much to those who came to our rescue and the guides who were great. Dee, I am quite happy to go in your raft again. Thanks for being such a great guide and giving us a unique experience that wasn’t offered in other rafts.