The plan was simple, land and go straight to the Kaituna. A friend was there working for the summer and said there were plenty of people around to boat with, and he was right! The Kaituna carpark is chalked full of folks living the dream; sleeping in their cars by night and running laps by day.
The first day Phil and I knocked out three laps early in the afternoon on the Kaituna before running over to Huka Falls, 1 hour away, for an evening session there. Two classics on the first day, the trip was off to a great start!
After a glorious 8 hours of sleep, I talked Caleb Roberts, a C1’er from Canada, into joining for a mellow day on the Rangitaiki.
The next day we hit another classic section of whitewater, the much longer section of the Kaituna downstream of the classic Okere Falls section. Paddling for 13 miles through Awesome Gorge and Smoky Gorge was quite the experience; with jungle walls rising hundreds of feet straight out of the river, springs shooting from the walls and classic whitewater, this section lived up to the hype.
Without rain, the options were very limited, so the next day a group of Germans, a Kiwi, and I went to check out the mellow but scenic Waiari Stream. This section of river, what it lacks in quality whitewater makes up for in amazing water quality and class II/III walled out gorges.
One more day of laps on the Kaituna before driving south towards the Tongariro Crossing, which I planned to hike the following day. On the way, I picked up some hitch hikers whom I soon recruited to hold my camera and throw rope while I ran a park and huck near the Crossing. The next day I hiked the Crossing then drove to Wellington, where I spent New Years Eve in the back of my car drinking a bag of wine outside the Ferry Terminal…for on New Years Day I was heading to the South Island!
Stay tune for part 2…
"The Kaituna carpark is chalked full of folks living the dream; sleeping in their cars by night and running laps by day."