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.
Section paddled: Buller / Granity Creek
Date: March 6th 11am-2pm
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.