Weekend Trip - Saturday 28 September 2013 to Monday 30 September 2013 (3 days)

14 people registered for this trip. As we were to kayak in two and a half days what most take four to five days to complete, we planned several hearty practice days to toughen us up.

Tinopai, Orongo, Karaka, Hoteo. Great get togethers where we honed our skills, sorted gear and got excellent team work going. Unfortunately though, it was a bit like bottles falling off the wall as our large contingent dwindled before our eyes. Four pulled out due to work/family commitments, another with the flu, another (male) had an emergency appendectomy (but not an episiotomy as I had mentioned to one startled friend). Allen broke his sternum when cycling as a car door was opened in front of him. Due to this he was unable to practice but still joined us for the big trip.

Tina, the stalwart Kaipara training organiser, came around to my house for tea and a gear check, and got bitten in the leg by my flatmate’s dog. No dinner party but a bloody dash to the local A&E clinic resulting in nine stitches and a large missing piece of skin.

Post-flood muddy waters through a typical river gorge.

Our group was now down to eight leading up to the big weekend, with Tina (a postie who had never been bitten on the job) getting daily medical treatment to ensure her wound healed. She was committed to the journey but decided, along with hubby Lindsay, to forgo the top grade two rapids, not wanting to risk falling out.

Onwards now the stalwart six. Kay puts her wet suit on both back to front, and inside out. As the Whanganui was running quite high, we started higher up at our Fri night accom., the Taumarunui Holiday Park, Manunui. Hideo immediately draws attention to himself by falling out at the very first rapid. We hadn’t even properly left the park! Back in and continue on. Kay buddied up with our adventure racing gun Allen in his double Duet, confident of an easy weekend kayaking as he was in charge. Crash!! Into the shingle bank at Herlihy’s rapid resulting in a badly cracked kayak. Out comes the repair tape and tentatively through the next rapids to Ohinepane where we meet up with Tina bandaged up and using a soccer shin pad to protect her wound.

Lynda (Brent in background)

Out go Kay and Allen with the dinged in Duet, heading in to town to hire replacements, and in come Tina and Lindsay, keeping the group to a delicate party of six. A very fresh and fast river ensured good speed, easy rapids and a fairly straightforward 63km journey to Whakahoro and the DOC schoolhouse for the night. Very comfortable too! Kay and Allen show up with two hired heavy plastic sea kayaks, with Kay realising that her ideal of feet up and minimal paddling at the back of the double, was off. Although Tina paddled very well, her wound still got damp and she was rightly concerned about it getting infected so she and Lindsay decided not to continue. Dave our wonderful driver arrived very well provisioned so we commiserated over several bottles of red wine then an early night in readiness for the next day.

Allen, Carol & Brent at John Coull Hut

Back to the original six, but this time Hideo started off (and stayed) reasonable dry. Today Kay manages to have her wetsuit turned the right way in, but now back to front. An uneventful but very pleasant paddle to John Coull hut for lunch. I met the warden who was from my home town. He barely remembered me, but asked after my son who had obviously made an indelible (and no doubt very naughty) impression at some stage. Kay takes her wet suit off for lunch and then puts it on inside out. We continue kayaking to Mangapurua and a fast walk to the Bridge to Nowhere, then on down to Tieke Kainga Marae. 66kms kayaked today. This is where I discovered I had left my icebreaker knickerbockers at Whakahoro. They were part of a new, matching and very pink underwear set. Those who know me would realise the rarity of any new, let alone matching, clothes.

Another early start and we all watch to see how Kay puts her wetsuit on this time. Maybe squeeze into it upside down? Yet last day and finally success where she properly fits into it first time. On a previous occasion I enthused about a cave which had shell fossils, and some mud. Someone fell in face first, and we all got horribly muddy, and I couldn’t find the shells (wrong cave!), so there was some resistance to repeating the exploration. This time we viewed the mud cave safely from our clean kayaks on the river and had a quick look at the fossils round the corner so I redeemed myself. Having filled fear into the hearts of the entire group about a particularly difficult rapid just above Pipiriki, we kayaked past it without even knowing. So easy as and a hassle free exit at the wharf.

Facts emerging about this trip: No-one would have any doubt that talented and fit Lynda would have excelled on this expedition. She did as a calm and thoughtful influence. The immense surprise was that Roll Out Rose, the holder of the ATC award for most kayaking can outs on previous trips, did not fall out once!! Not once. The only time Brent upset the apple cart was when he complained I had provided too much food. Duh? Kay, unexpectedly needing to paddle on her own, pushed on like a real trouper. Hideo after his initial hiccup, is well on his way to being a very competitive C2Cer.

So prior, an attrition of 50%, the flu, a broken sternum, an appendectomy, a bad dog bite. On the river over 150km, one busted boat, and only three swims. Post trip recycling of unexpectedly large quantities of empty red wine bottles. This was a relatively uneventful trip, with beautiful scenery, and a fantastic farewell for me on my last trip as an ATC weekend leader.

Leader/Scribe: Carol Exton

With: Brent Rose, Hideo Yoshihama, Kay Wilcocks, Lynda Langridge, Allen Small, Tina Jacques and Lindsay Jacques.

Special Note: A big big special thanks to our non kayaking driver Dave Best who spent three days on the road following us down, driving into town, picking up gear, buying provisions etc etc. The trip would not have been possible without you. Thanks heaps Dave.