September 14, 2008

East Coast representing

The Upper Rook's

team 440

Its been a while since I have been so fired up about a mission here in NZ. Zak and I took the opportunity to do a kayaking mission out east after running some river rescue training in and around the central north.

We picked Zak's bro Elby up from his base on the Kaituna in Rotorua and headed east. The forecast was for plenty of rain so we were confident in finding some sweet paddling. With darkness settling over the land we drove into the Urewera's and into or first problem for the trip. Over a 100km of gravel roads and a fully loaded truck had taken its toll. Flatty. After plenty of grovelling around in the mud we got the spare on and tentatively hit the road knowing that another flat would have us sleeping roadside. Not an option.

As midnight drew close we rolled into our 'farm' base happy to be off the road. A few quick phone calls before we left meant that Zak had hooked us up some sweet shearing quarters. Chur!

zak in action on 'handle bars' drop

Over the next couple of days we tagged into multiple descents of the upper rook's sampling all the goodness it had to offer at the varying water levels that were on offer. A two minute drive from our lush accommodation had us at the take out. Drop the bike, and 10 mins later we were ready to put on. Not quite as sweet as the kaituna shuttle but plenty sweet for us.

kiwi rivers, gorgeous!

With geology not found in other parts of the country we got to sample plenty of papa slides and ledge drops. It was a bazaar feeling to be running sweet slides all set in sweeter kiwi bush.

The Munamuna River

Zak had walked in here a few years ago with his old man and taken a photo a two sweet ledge drops that he thought were about 5 foot in height. On the back of this we decided to go bush with the boats an see if we couldn't tap into some of these ledge drops.

Elby Shaw an hour in and wishing he had one of our hydraulic's 'strap on's'

More 4wd had us at the road end and strapping the boats on. The 3km hiked quickly turned into 5km as we realised the drops weren't were they were meant to be. The first hour and a half were pretty sweet going as we waded through bogs and across farmland. As soon as we stepped into the bush things got a little harder with a 260m climb up a migning slippery over grown track.

has anyone seen the put in?

The 3 hour mark had us just above the put in but it took a further 30mins of bashing to access the river bed.

Worth the 3 hour walk. You be the judge

Two 5 foot ledges. Yeah right!

With time running low we dropped into the 'flat gorge' as Zak had quoted it and ran some pretty big water class 4 and 5 for the next two hours. We didn't mess around with cameras and the like as daylight was running low and the river had already come up close to a foot while we were on it.

Elby getting 'cali' on it and staying out of trouble

Surfs were had had, lines were bold and we were happy to pull into the take out eddy. Not a bad day out and a possible 2nd descent. All was left to do was to celebrate east coast styles. Drive an hour and a half for beer and bourbon. Chur chur!

For Zak's rebuttal check out passion4adventure

September 1, 2008


Socks. You don't need socks in California in July. You need jandels, boardies and beer, but not socks!

If you live in NZ and are working in the central north island during July then you will need socks... and a bunch more warm things as well. Having spent the past couple of years working on my 340+ jandel days a year this winter came as a bit of a shock. jacksonoutdoors almost became but I figured it would never really take off.

I have managed a few adventures here and there but my days in a kayak have been outnumbered by my days on a snowboard (4) and my days sick (6) but not quite my days hung over (3). Awesome, really... Mmm, anyway.

One such adventure had my driving to a river just north of Whakamaru which is just north of Wellington (by 6 hours).

I teamed up with the esteemed team of Brendan Bayly and Bernard Oliver. With plenty of rain around we headed for the Mangawhio River which is almost (literally) in Brendan's backyard.

All we knew is that it was beautiful and was steep in places.

About 20 seconds into the run the river signals its intentions. A clean crisp 12 footer. The next 30mins is filled with plenty of boogey water set amongst beautiful NZ bush.

you wanna slide?

A cascade and the main road bridge signals its time to step aside or step up. The 2 and 3 foot drops you scouted from the bridge turn into 10 and 12 foot drops. The bottom three drops are where all the goods lie. 10 foot into 30 foot into 40 foot of goodness. After scrambling to scout the combo we make a call. Berno and big drop Bayly will fire up the first two while I video. Then they will wait 15 nervous minutes in the micro eddy while I 'climb' my way back up to my boat. Easy.

Brendan lead by example making the top two look easy. Berno followed the trend. Sweet, my turn. Top drop, good, 30 footer, sweet until I land and my back rest blows out. Awesome. 3 kayaks, two boat eddy, vertical walled gorge and 8m down stream the river falls away another 40 feet. After trying in vein to sort my backrest the answer is obvious. Turn and tuck.

After a decent thrashing at the bottom I rolled up minus an elbow guard and smiles all round. Brendan follows soon and joins me in the eddy to watch Berno get the best thrashing I have seen in a long time... and its all caught on tape.

40 feet to freedom