|Running New Zealand|
Paddlers: Dejan Kralj, Andraž Krpič, Janez Čižman, Andrej Bjuklič
text by Dejan Kralj
It's always the nicest felling when you step out from airport and put your shorts on, leaving snow, cold and fog back in frosty Europe. The first days we stayed in North island and did classic Kaituna and beautiful Gnarly gorge on Kaituna river, sweet way to start the journey. And when you're so far away from home you have to take all that's given; there are 26 Sundays that water on Wairora river is released and for sure we had to be there. We started under the dam and did MacLaren Falls. It's tricky entry, but than you fall for 10 meters down. Second rapid is more difficult but with just 6 meters fall. After four days staying in Mike Dawsons house by lake Ratahiti (from witch Kaituna gets its water), we went for long drive to South island and on the way we picked up the boats by Bliss-stick, a factory in the middle of nowhere.
Globalization makes problems everywhere – none of our credit cards worked to buy a ferry ticket to South Island. It was father of Louise Jull that rescued us and our mission started. Nice nature, nice weather and good water were just some of the things in the head when we landed in Picton city (South island). For sure that on the way to Hokitika city we just had to stop at Maruria falls witch are 8 meters high and you can do all day long. The first river before we start with helicopter trips was Crooked river. We had to walk 3,5 hours to put in... for sure it's one of the nicest gorges, but if you decide to run it, take a helicopter and if the water is low, take maybe just the upper part.
Later we arrived to Hokitika camp and met some kayakers with witch we paddled Waitaha and Kokatahi river. For those two rivers you have to take helicopter (Bruce Dando the best pilot you can imagine), but flying and paddling down the rivers in the middle of nowhere, is something that you will never forget, it's just sweet. Unluckily, our friend Ciaran Mc Ardle-Heurteau, that took Kokatahi river after us with Mike Dawson and Vavra Hradilec dislocated his shoulder in a stopper and had to spend a night in the wild with his friend before being rescued next day. After those two trips we had one day off before going for a two days trip on Whitcombe river (one of the hardest river to run at), it was amazing. First day you do just 6 km, but you need 6 hours to the hut were you can stay over night. Second day you do 22 km, but when Whitcombe joints the Hokitika river, you have around 10 km of class 2. Two days trip ended with glass of wine and positive filling in our heads.