Howdy Ya'll!New Zealand, what a place. Well, I finally made it down here after traveling for about 30 hours, part of which included my partner in Charge, Michael Peacher, popping a couple bottles of bubbly on the plane from LA to Fiji, which took place sometime during the bringing in of 2013! We asked the flight attendant if it was cool to drink our own liquor on the plane, and not to our surprise, they said no. No worries though bro, we were finished with them by that point. Here we are on the plane.
Our local buddies, Barny and Jordy, picked us up at the airport in Christchurch at 4:20, and we immediately got the party started! A sweet drive from the east coast to the west coast, which they claim is the best coast, invited some incredible sights that seemed to be straight out of Lord Of The Rings. Barny and Jordy rent a tight little crib right near the beach outside Greymouth, and the rain immediately started to hammer down on us. The winds were whipping up quite a bit too.
Wish we had the General Lee for this one…
The next morning, we awoke to more rain, and the boys said we were going to do a short little run that rarely has enough flow. Right… these guys are all about downplay. Us foreigners, decided to bail on the idea of traveling overseas with our trusty Dagger Nomad kayak, and opted to use a locally made Bliss-Stick boat. Peacher and I chose the Mystic; whereas, Nick chose the slightly bigger, longer, and faster Tuna. Outfitting was pretty easy, besides for Nick, who had to tweak his bulkhead for his shorter legs.
After a leisurely start, we were mobbing on the left side of the road in Barny's Subaru. Most of the little creeks on the way seemed to be flowing good, but not too high. Arriving at the bridge, our local tour guides, B n J, deemed the flow good to go. We had no idea what we were getting into… The hike-in was on an immaculately maintained Mtn. bike trail, which had these crazy looking traps with an egg in them. Not sure what they were trying to catch… maybe coons. Heard they're a nuisance over here.
We were greeted with an absurd amount of new wood in the river bed. Forcing us to make a heinous portage, which started to get me quite familiar with the land, as we clung to the moss infested hillside. Here is Barny still stoked even though we had to portage.
More wood ensued, and the rapids quickly grew in size and speed. Here is Nick giving an eye of anxiety as the tension began to rise for us foreigners, in a different country, in different boats.
Us foreigners weren't the only ones with hearts beating faster than normal. Here is Barny having an encounter with a stone. His leg was ripped out of the thighbrace, but he got it back together, as a swim would have been devastating in this rapidly rising creek, i forgot to mention, is named BlackBall creek #1.
We eventually reached a point where the rapids were big and stacked, and Nick missed a crucial eddy, forcing him to paddle a burly rapid with a headhunting log. Thanks heavens, Nick ducked the log, avoided the undercut landslide, and punched two rowdy holes. Nevertheless, we could't see him or the entire rapid; so we began frantically searching for our comrade. Peacher and I helped Barny and Jordy portage the log, and they mobbed into the two holes in search of Nick. They didn't exactly 'sell' the line on the holes, and we couldn't tell that the boys found Nick in good shape.
Long story--slightly less long, Peacher and I decided to hike-out, seeing the river rise 6'' in 30 minutes. It was brutal to say the least, but at least all the vegetation is nice and soft without the presence of poisonous snakes, spiders, or plants. After a long hard hike through some super steep and treacherous terrain, Peacher and I reached the take-out, but no sign of the crew who continued paddling.
After contemplating possible rescue options for a while, we were super stoked to see the boys come floating down to the bridge. After swapping stories, it sounded like we chose the right decision to hike-out, as they other boys were forced to do some seriously life-threatening portages. All is well that ends well. Here we are reunited after a long and hard first day of paddling in New Zealand, in 2013, in Bliss-Stick boats. Stoked to be here. Im gonna try to keep Full Throttle updated on our adventures. Cheers!!!