Tubing on the Ngaruroro River

Weekend Trip - Friday 5th to Sunday 7th November 2010 Julien and Marie on the river bank

Or, "Boo Hoo Hoo, I should have brought my Warm Shark-skin Top"

We had eight sturdy participants sharing two cars on the long journey down to Kiripapango, at the southern end of the Kaweka Ranges. We drove via Napier and camped at Cameron’s carpark. We met up with a big group of Napier Tramping Club members on a day trip. This club has done a lot of work at Mem Hut; thanks Napier TC.
The fit group, consisting of Brent, Graeme and me, had an early start over the tops from The Lakes. We all carried wetsuit, helmet, life vest and tube, along with the other weekend tramping essentials. I was pleasantly surprised to be carrying only 19kg. We made good progress with an early lunch at Kiwi Saddle Hut, then a descent into Kiwi Stream.

We arrived at Kiwi Mouth Hut at 1.30pm. Half-a-day tramping, five hours, easy trip so far! Our only concern was an unexpected dusting of snow on the tops. We spent the afternoon pumping up the tubes and chatting. (Some men seem to gossip more than us poor maligned women.)
A comfy night on very creaky wire-wove bunks, then away tubing just after 7.00am. Not surprisingly, the river was running fresh and it was very, very cold, even with lots of warm clothes on. Brent had impressed us with tales of his warm and cosy shark-skin top. The best quality, but sadly not brought on the trip. Boo Hoo Hoo. I started shivering uncontrollably an hour into our descent and decided to walk to warm up. My companions were somewhat alarmed at my condition; however they dubiously pushed on with me. We combined tubing and walking where it was possible. There were wonderful chutes to ride down and it was much quicker to tube than walk but, bbrrrrr!.
My map showed a high-water track on the right, 7 km down. We agreed to walk it, but didn’t see an entrance marker, so, still tubing, we arrived at Cameron Hut for lunch. (10 km and 5 hrs in the water.)

After lots of hot soup and curry, and a complete draining of two water-logged packs, we continued on down. We had hardened up by now, and really enjoyed this beautiful clear river. The top zip of my pack opened with the force of the water and I lost several items of gear. I stopped to secure my pack then headed on to find, way down stream, a pair of my bright orange knickers caught in some submerged branches. A great way to do washing, but alas my compass and silk sleeping bag liner were never to be seen again.
Non-tubers Julien, Kathy, Marie, Max and Chris warming up at Cameron HutThe sun was out now and there were more small, fast rapids to ride. Yahoo, what a buzz! Second half 8 km tubed in 3 hrs. We shot slightly past the carpark, which isn’t visible from the river and took a quick walk back to the car. Eight hours in the water plus one hour for lunch. A big nine-hour day. To our surprise, the easy party’s car was still there. They should have walked up river to Cameron Hut on Saturday, then easily tubed the 8 km, getting out for lunch on Sunday. However, they had over 15 quite deep crossings going in and got very cold too, so they tramped out over the tops the next day taking 7 hrs. Lugging all the water-safety gear in and not using it! They had had enough of the cold though, and I think really enjoyed being on the tops. Yet another awesome weekend adventure, making the most of our rugged and beautiful land. Boo Hoo Hoo Brent has given me a vivid description of his tail-bone bruises, and somehow implies they are my fault!

We were: Carol (fit leader and scribe), Brent and Graeme (both 47, old forgotten Rotorua classmates, one studious, one a larrikin). The easy international non-tubing tubers: Max (leader), Marie and Julien (from France), Chris (USA), Kathy (Sth Africa).