Granity Creek

Posted by Spalding Hurst

March 6, 2004

I left Wellington a couple of days ago to come here to Murchison where I am now.  This is a kayaking paradise with the Buller Fest going on right now.  The trip began with a ferry ride that wasn’t too pleasant.  I went out in downtown Wellington to some bars with Justin and a whole other slew of transfer students.  We drank the night away there, but I had to call it a night early so I could catch my 3:00am ferry ride to Picton.  I slept in the parking lot and on the boat while they showed some movies.  One of them was Sweet Home Alabama I think.  At 6 am I was in the South Island of New Zealand.  It was dark and the town didn’t seem to offer much.  I was ready for some kayaking action so I headedon to Murchison.  A 3 hour drive through some beautiful scenery.

The South Island is much different from the north in the fact that there are hardly any people.  I passed 1 car during my 3 hour drive from 6am to 9am.  1 car and thousands of cows and goats.  The drive was good.  Murchison doesn’t even have an ATM.  When I bought a kayak, I had to drive an hour away to get some cash.

I arrived in town early yesterday morning.  My plan was to now buy a boat.  The festival didn’t seem to have an epicenter.  I talked with Mick Hopkinson the owner of the kayak school here, and a local legend in the kayaking world.  He had some boats for sale, but nothing I really wanted.

I couldn’t find much anywhere else.  So I decided to spend that day checking out the area and it’s many rivers.  I saw a guy running a 30 waterfall in his kayak.  I video taped it, but my camera crapped out and didn’t actually get the footage.

I talked to that guy.  He was a boater from Washington state.  And one crazy character.  Yeah, that picture is what he went over.  So the day grew on and I still had no boat.  I knew I would need to get a lead on one so I could start boating.  I decided to take a nap back at the hostel.  I am staying at the Lazy Cow, the only hostel in town.  It’s like living in a house with ten roommates.  All from all over the place and a new set of ten each day.  Well one guy I met at the hostel is Zack, who has become my paddling partner for the moment.

Through him I got a lead on a boat which I took for spin today on the Buller river.  For the kayakers that care, it is a Bliss-Stick Flip Stick.  I’ve never boated in a playboat, but this one seems to suit me well.  I just returned from paying the kid for the boat.

He is with a group from a poly-tech school in Christchurch.  A tech school for outdoor adventure.  They don’t have that back home. So I ended the day yesterday with a good lead on a boat, some fish and chips at the local restaurant.  The only restaurant.  And watched a game of rugby while I ate.  Super 12 rugby, the same that is playing in front of me now.  This morning I woke, went and got the boat and hit the Buller with Zack.

I met a guy from England and his girlfriend from North Carolina on the river.  We gave them a lift back to there car.  So after my first day of boating I sit here waiting for my steak to come off the grill.  So far so good.  More boating lies in store tomorrow.  Internet access isn’t so good out here.  Hopefully I can get connected soon.

Oh yeah, some where in there I celebrated my birthday.  It was a good one.

Murchison Video

Section paddled: Buller / Granity Creek

Date: March 6th  11am-2pm

Flow: Normal

Difficulty: Class III+

Notes: One large rapid at Granity creek.  I flipped leaving the eddie, but bounced right back up and ran the thing like a champ.

Who with?: Zack, a paddler from Massachusetts.

Comments: I hit a rapid equal in size to anything I ever have done before.

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