Sonntag, 18. März 2012

Roadtrip NZ!

The first two weeks of January, the Kaituna was at open gates due to the heavy rain storm that hit the North Island around New Year's. The van I picked up in Auckland had a leaking roof and life was pretty miserable for a few days, but luckily the locals in Okere Falls opened their homes and I had a sweet couple of weeks paddling a high water Kaituna and a few of the local flood runs. 

Racing the Kaituna at open gates!
Photo Erik Hemstad
On my way to the South Island I stopped for a week at the Bliss Stick Factory to work. The Factory is pretty much located at the take out of the Rangitiki River, a nice warm up run for the West Coast. It seems to always be a few paddlers around the factory, and I spent the first few days of work 'testing' the Tuna and the Mystic. I totally fell in love with the Mystic, and after five days of moulding seats and backbends, drinking coffee, listening to Charles crazy stories and paddling the Rangitiki, I had a shiny black Mystic with a pink seat on the roof of my van. Time to hit the South Island!

A nice flood run on the North Island (Nini Bondhus)
Photo Paula Volkmer
Rangitiki Gorge

Lunch huck at the Bliss Stick Factory (Nini Bondhus)

I teamed up with Erika Sprunck and Alison Homer and headed south. The first stop was Murchison, a little town with a good selection of easy rivers, a really nice coffee shop and an interesting museum. The Buller is a big volume grade III-IV depending on the water level. Murchison is also the home of the famous park'n huck Mauria Falls, and being the girls that we are, we showed a group of guys how it's done. Chick huck fest!

Erika Sprunck showing the line, Mauria Falls
Photo Erik Hemstad

The next stop was Hokitika, a sweet little coastal town with the legendary Mahinapuna pub, amazing fish and chips and some of the steepest and most technical whitewater on the southern hemisphere. The Torahora River is probably the easiest little creek around Hokitika, and we did the 45 minute long hike to the put in a few times the first week. In Norway, pretty much all the classic rivers are roadsides, so hiking in with a kayak, safety gear and splits was a new and sometimes exhausting experience. You definitely gotta earn your turns on the West Coast, and hiking in to rivers like the Styx and the Arahura soon became everyday routine! Luckily the Totara and The Upper and Lower Kakapotahi are roadsides, but you need rain to make them come up. 

Flying up the Hokitia/Whitcomb

Arahura Gorge (Nini Bondhus)
Photo Chris

Arahura Gorge (Nini Bondhus)
Photo Chris

Hokitika is a great place to meet other kayakers, and me and Erika teamed up with a kiwi crew from Murchison on our first helicopter trip. On a dark and rainy day, we flew in to the Hokitika. It might sound like a cliché, but it is definitely a pretty intense feeling to see the helicopter take off for the last time and to know that the only way back to civilization is down the river, no matter what the river brings you The commitment factor at the Coast  is way higher than what I am used to, and it definitely makes kayaking at the Coast more serious than other places I've been. The helicopter dropped us off a little bit higher on the Hokitika than we expected, but the kiwi-crew safely guided us down and we finished a perfect day with fish and chips on the beach. 

Hokitika Gorge (Nini Bondhus)
Photo Erika Sprunck

Hokitika Beach

On our way further south, we paddled the Fox River, a glacier fed river with a water temperature around 6 Celsius. Believe it or not, floating ice bergs actually make good eddies! 

The Fox River
Photo Mike Moxon

The Landsborough River, one of the most remote multi day trips on the South Island, was the next river on the list. Unfortunately the water was pretty low, but we were still rewarded with an epic helicopter flight, a stunning view of the snow peaked mountains, a great wilderness feeling and loads of sand flies. 

The Landsborough River

After a month on the road, we really enjoyed the facilities of a city. Sushi, coffee bars and some shopping was high on the list. The guys fired up the Nevis Bluff, one of NZs biggest rapids. I got a practice run on the Citroen rapid, a great big volume rapid which is also where the Citroen Race is to be held. 

Citroen Rapid, Kawaru Gorge (Nini Bondhus)
Photo Lukas Strobl

Citroen Rapid, Kawaru Gorge (Nini Bondhus)
Photo Lukas Strobl

On the way back to Hokitika, we stopped in Peel Forest to paddle the Rangitata Gorge for a few days, an awesome grade IV big volume section you can walk into in half an hour.

Hiking up the Rangitata Gorge

Citroen Extreme Race in Queenstown was my last stop before I went back to Norway. I swam in the seeding round but managed to recover and got 3th place out of 8 girls. What a sweet way to finish 3 months on NZ!

Citroen Race Swim Team!

The Citroen Extreme Race on 3News, NZ:

The Citroen Extreme Race on Otago News:


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