Heli-shuttles and New Zealand Kayaking

(Me taking a leap on Maruia Falls) 

(Spanna and the beautiful scenery of the Whateroa river)    

What a great way to travel…. helicopter shuttles are a definite highlight of any kayaking trip to New Zealand! Of course Maruia falls is a must-do as well.
I had four weeks to see the many wonders New Zealand – so I decided to stick to the South Island, and arrange my trip so it fell at the same time as two major kayaking events – Buller Fest (http://www.bullerfestival.co.nz/index.html) which is held in Murchison, and the Citroen Extreme Race which is held on the Citroen rapid of the Kawarau River near Queenstown. Bullerfest had some epic parties, but the “head to head” at citroen was also a big highlight. The standard of paddlers at both events was incredible. Kayaking festivals are also a great way to meet new friends when you’re travelling and bump into plenty of old friends too.

(Me with Spanna and the Chopper) 

(Flying into the Arahura) 

The festival dates largely determined my itinerary. I started off in Murchison for a couple of days warm up, before heading to the west coast to Hokitika for some heli-boating! The whateroa provided an excellent warm up and I headed up with Spanna of the NZ Kayak School. Its a glacier fed river that runs longer than many other run. It is medium volume with some beautiful gorges and pristine blue waters. The second day saw me fly into the Whitcombe with Zak Shaw and two other local boaters - we flew into the bottom of Price’s gorge – it is an incredible day of continuous classic new zealand boulder-drop class IV. Having spent a little time in Hokitika – I headed back to the Bullerfest for the festivities.

(Jakub Sedivy on Cesspit rapid on the Arahura) 

After Bullerfest, with a new British dominated crew, I headed back to the west coast to spend some more time in Helicopters and got amongst others, the Kokapotahi, Wanganui, and classic of all classics – the Arahura under my belt.
The journey continued down to Queenstown with just enough time for a few practice days and some heavy drinking before the Citroen Race. Seeing that the competition was fierce, I opted for the comedy-line of straight into the rock rather than left or right, with the intention of keeping the punters entertained ;P

(Some of NZ’s finest on the classic Nevis Bluff rapid on the Kawarau river) 

After the race I spent enough time in Queenstown to get a few more classics under my belt and even brave the Shotover road (which is far scarier than the river), kayak through the tunnel there, and get a good intro to Queenstown nightlife, which is certainly amongst the best on the South Island.

(Me on Curtain Call rapid on the Arahura)

As the stormy weather blew in, we headed to Millford Sound to catch some awesome boating on some great welsh-style rain fed rivers – with welsh sounding names too. The highlight of camping with the sea kayak guides down there being that they have a drying tent complete with rocket heater – truely awesome for those chilly NZ days!

Sad to leave, I finally drove back up the east coast  – taking in the amazing scenery before flying out of this kayaking mecca! Can’t wait to go back.


(Spanna and the beautiful scenery of the Whateroa river)




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