Stopped for the night at Dunstan Downs backpackers 16 km south of Omarama, Thursday the 5th after leaving CHC around 6pm, interesting to note, there is no after hours eftpos petrol available at Tekapo, Twizel or Omarama. Backpackers was well maintained with comfy beds.
Hit the road around 9am Friday for a 10.15am meet at the Roaring Meg Power Station & then went to the put in. On the river we had; Richard K, Richard B, Michaela, Sarah, Shane, Dave, Becs, Veronika, Misa, Per, Steeel, Debbie & me (John). The river was very, very, boily - more so than when I lasst paddled it in 1994 - or perhaps I'm suffering early dementia. I decided to get out at the Power Station and leave the other to it. I walked back to the car, drove toward Cromwell, found a place to stop, found a track to the river & observed the trip as it negotiated Man Eater. I decided to get back in my boat & paddle the rest of the way down, a throw rope came in handy as I used it to drop my boat to the rivers edge & then scrambled down myself. Dave reckoned this to be the longest portage in Otago, on the river Shane said I'd got out at the end of the hardest section & had re-joined for the second hardest section, WHAT!!!??? The waves became very big & boily not long after I rejoined the trip, there were many nervous faces, nothing was too hard as long as you paddled in the flow, the eddy lines were big & boily, if thought you were sitting in a flat eddy, it wasn't for long as the whirlpools would some find anyone unsuspecting. It ended all too soon & soon enough for some people.
In the afternoon we did Dog Leg on the Kawarau, I can't tell you about this one except the swim I had prior to waving everyone off down the river. Richard Keir & I ran the shuttle while everyone else paddled. Hindsight told me I should've paddled or used the paddler s to help run the shuttle - anyway we got it done. Jono (Michaela's friend & Shane) went for a mountain bike on the Gentle Annie trail which starts near the Nevis confluence and heads towards Arrowtown along the ridge line.
We camped for the next two nights at Arrowtown, the camp here is almost new and the amenities are fantastic, the showers are better than the one at home. It wasn't bad walk into town where some of us ate at New Orleans & watched the cricket live from Aust.
On Saturday we had an early start & left camp to do the Upper Shotover, the idea was to get on the road early before the tourist traffic and this paid off as we saw little except for a couple of Hiace vans. After a long shuttle we got on the river at just before 12. This is one of my favourite trips, although not more than grade 2 to 2+ in some places there is a hell of a lot of stuff to play on. We had 10 on this trip; Rich B, Per, John, Steeel were outnumbered 4 to 6 by the women; Michaela, Debbie, Sarah, Veronika, Misa & Vlada. We had a fantastic paddle & stopped on almost every rapid to have a play. By mid way those of us in small boats were getting very sore legs. The weather was mild but warm - great for summer paddling, the water was clear and running around 15 cu mecs. We were off the river at 4.20 around 4 and a half hours later. At the get out Steeel suggested everyone have a swim - the water a bloody cold! Travelling out was no problem, although first we had to try and get the Man of Steeel's van un-stuck, the Man of Steeel himself was too scared to drive it up the access road, so I got him to wait at the top in my Prado with a tow rope, Sarah & Michaela sat in in the back of the van for a bit of weight & we had Per, Rich & Debbie mid way up the road to give us a push - although this wasn't necessay. We floored it & the red Hyundai van shot up the road, briefly getting stuck mid way before I screwed the clutch, spun the wheels & got it to the top - it was hilarious!
On Sunday we departed by way of Dog Leg for one last run, here we had; Rich B, Rich K, Shane, Steeel, Debbie, Michaela, Sarah, some guy called Duncan, Per & me. The wind had got up & it was a bit uncomfortable. Smiths Falls the first rapid was alot of fun; big bouncy waves, under the bungy bridge a number of us did a few rolls for the tourists between bungy jumpers. At Doo Little Shane & Debbie attempted in vain to get on the wave, Debbie complained the wind was too strong, Richard Keir had no problem and entertained us until a number of other paddlers arrived. We continued on to Dog Leg, this is an exciting rapid, I'm told it's Grade 4?? I'd say BIG grade 3, with waves as big as houses, as long as you get the lines right nothing will prevent you from successfully running this rapid.
Afterwards we headed home, getting to CHCH around 8pm. Thanks to everyone for coming along. Paddling in Queenstown so much more enjoyable in Summer.