Issue 87 final web

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Issue 87

W O N E L A ON S Nordic Adventures

- The Yakity Yak Club go to Norway

Invest in Your Future

- Essential equipment to ensure your safety

Top Trips for this Summer

- Where are you heading?

First Descent of the Upper Rio Diamante

- Northern Patagonia, Argentina

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Issue 87 Christmas 2017


Contents adventure equipment

Sea Kayaking 6. Nordic Adventures 18. Te Maika - and the far-side of Kawhia Harbour 28. Paddling Between Tin Tents Fishing 30. Tales of Kayak Cray Potting White Water 46. First Descent of the Upper Rio Diamante General 32. Invest In Your Future 36. Top Trips for this Summer 40. Rod Tube - New from Railblaza. 42. Bixpy Jet Motor. Tommahawk Dry Cag

High Back PFD

Sladek Recreational Cag

EDITOR: Peter Townend, PUBLISHER: New Zealand Kayak Magazine is published four times per year by Canoe & Kayak Ltd. PRINTING: MHP Print Pricing: At the time of printing the prices in this magazine were accurate. However they may change at any time.

Xipe Touring PFD

Copyright: The opinions expressed by contributors and the information stated in advertisements/articles are not necessarily agreed to by the editors or publisher of New Zealand Kayak Magazine. SUBSCRIPTIONS: Go to: CONTRIBUTORS: We welcome contributors’ articles and photos. Refer to for more details. ALL CONTRIBUTIONS TO: James Fitness, New Zealand Kayak Magazine

Junga Touring Cag

Rakau White water PFD

Cover photo: Renee Olivier in Kawhia Harbour By: Ruth E. Henderson

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Editorial This summer and into the future. When in the outdoors, we are always looking at the “what ifs”. “If I am to paddle this rapid, can I see a good line that will see me safely through?” “As a leader, will the skills of my followers be sufficient to see them to the bottom safely?” These questions also need to be balanced by the “what if”. So, we look at the rapid and then the skills, knowledge, confidence level and equipment and ask ourselves, “Can everyone here paddle this? What if it goes wrong?” If the worst is a bit of a dunking and everyone laughing at the end, then the buzz is balanced with the risk, and a happy outcome should be achieved by all. If there is a real chance of injury or worse, the decision carries a lot more of a consequence and hence, more thought needs to be applied. As this risk increases, the individual’s personal decision needs to be given more weight, as the consequences are theirs. Also, with increased risk, leaders need to be very careful about how much encouragement they give, as this is where many accidents can start. When people are encouraged out of their comfort zone and, in the heat of the moment, are then too stressed to deploy the necessary skills (that they may well have in less demanding situations), they may fail at the quest and get into trouble.

When leading a group or just going paddling, I use the ‘Plonker’ meter. This is my last check before deciding to paddle in marginal conditions. The question I ask myself is, “If we decide to go ahead and it all goes wrong, will we look like Plonkers?” Will the family, friends, media, public and police etc. be shaking their heads and saying, “What was he thinking - the plonker!”? So, this summer when you are taking on a new challenge, ensure that you will not be a plonker by heading out in conditions that are beyond your or your group’s abilities. Looking wider, the protection of New Zealand waters must be our number one concern as kayakers. You will be pleased to know that this year Canoe & Kayak, as it has for many years, has been heavily involved. Tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours have been spent to support the effort to protect the Long Bay Okura Marine Reserve from pollution and the effects of further coastal urbanisation. The evidence from the Long Bay Okura Great Parks Society members, their specialists and legal team, have provided the court with information and examples on many issues that we believe are causing, or will cause long term damage to the environment. These issues are not unique to

Photo by: Harry Martin

Okura and we hope the outcome of this court case will reverberate around the country and help others protect their own waterways for future generations to enjoy. As this Marine Reserve and coastal area is the birthplace of the Yakity Yak Kayak Club, I call on any who have been helped in any way by the club to donate to the Save Okura Campaign ( savelongbayokuracoastline) and in doing so help save a little piece of coastal paradise for future generations to enjoy. And finally to all the volunteers, thanks to all who have given so generously their time to help others this year, not only in kayaking and the environment, but throughout the broad spectrum of volunteerism in New Zealand. Through the combined efforts of all us volunteers, the future for the kids and New Zealand looks so much brighter. Merry Christmas Peter Townend

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Arriving at Fresvik - until 1976 people could only access the village by boat.

Nordic Adventures By Larraine Williams

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The top of the ‘Big Climb’ 1300 metres above the fjord

In June this year 13 Yakity Yak club members, headed off for a kayaking and hiking adventure in Norway. We had two guides who are also both Kiwis: Nic Mead and Mo Kennedy, who both work in NZ during our summer, and in our winter they move to Norway to work as guides. We had asked Nic if he could put together a trip for us. Because it is quite a long way to go, most of us incorporated other activities before and/or after our Norway adventure. Most of us flew in to Oslo, had a day exploring there, and the next day we caught the train for an incredible four hour journey through the mountains to Voss which is located between the Hardangerfjord to the south and the Sognefjord to the north. In Voss we were picked up at the train station by Nic and taken to our accommodation for the night.

Day 1 In two vehicles, driven by two more Kiwis, we took the scenic route to the tiny village of Gudvangen, situated on the deep blue Nærøyfjord. The name Gudvangen means “God’s place by the water” which is an accurate description. The scenic route involved a lot of switchbacks – we didn’t PAGE 8

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quite have to do three point turns but it looked as though we might if the turns got any tighter. Cyclists train there, going uphill! We were given our kayaks, and we got loaded – and Nic must know us well as that included quite a lot of wine! The Nærøyfjord is an idyllic spot with typically calm waters and waterfalls cascading from the fjord's 1300 metre high walls. After a 13 km paddle we set up camp and enjoyed some of that wine with our dinner. The food was amazing – I have never eaten so well on a camping trip. Being so far north, in the summer Norway doesn’t actually get dark at night. Even at 1am, it is still light enough to see without needing a torch. The water temp was four degrees, and the air temp was mostly between 7 and 12 degrees C, and we had rain most days. Thankfully Nic had told us to take the kind of gear that we would use in a NZ winter. I wore my Sharkskin top and long pants under a paddle jacket and pants, and they performed really well.

Day 2 The day of ‘The Big Walk’ started with a 1 km paddle across the fjord to the village of Dyrdal. After stashing the kayaks, we headed up. We started with a couple of hours of steady climb on a graded vehicle track. This

changed to a goat track, then a bog track. Then we arrived at a ‘summer farm’ which was lush grassland and some small huts. After a short stop for food, we started ‘The Big Climb’. After a very short time, I realized that I should have done a lot more weighted step-ups at the gym. I had to climb a few metres then stop to admire the wonderful view. Views like that deserve to be frequently admired! At the top of that section we reached the snowline and we all had a little lie down. There was another hour or so of undulating terrain through snow, before we finally reached our goal. The view was incredible. We looked straight down to the fiord about 1300 m below us. We were very lucky because about 15 minutes after we arrived the cloud closed in again and we couldn’t see much at all. After a food break hunkered down behind some rocks for shelter from the icy wind, we headed back down. And who should we bump into but Tara Mulvaney! She was also there working as a guide for the Norwegian summer. That day we climbed 1300 m, covered over 20 km, and it took us 10 hours.

Day 3 - Kayak into the Aurlandsfjord. Back on the water, our 16 km paddle took us into the larger Aurlandsfjord. Nic pointed out the farm that was only accessible by climbing a cliff. After setting up camp, a small group headed off to climb up to the farm. Nic had

warned us that the track was very steep with almost vertical drops if we stumbled. The couple who own it no longer live there – they moved out when they had small children. Most of the group opted to paddle around to the small village of Undredal that until recently was accessible only by boat. Undredal is famous for the brown cheese that is still produced using traditional cheese-making techniques. The village had a coffee shop, and internet access which brought much happiness to many of our group. We explored the village, which is home to the 12th century and smallest Stave Church in Norway. That afternoon it poured with rain and after dinner and toasted marshmallows, we tried to dry our boots and socks over the fire.

Day 4 We paddled north towards the main channel of the Sognefjord. The paddling distances were getting longer, and that day was 23 km. We came around the headland into the bay of Fresvik which must be the world’s most picturesque village. Our guesthouse was owned by a wonderful couple, Dee and Hege. Dee built everything himself, including milling the timber. Dee told us that he had heated up the hot tubs for us so we quickly got our boats unpacked, retrieving more of the wine of course. The four hot tubs were amazing. Looking out over the fiord, lying back in the hot water, Issue 87 Christmas 2017



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One of our guides, Mo, paddling past yet another waterfall

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with the icy rain on our faces, with a glass of wine, was close to heaven. While we were doing that Dee and his family prepared our dinner. We had reindeer sausages and salad. Dee had shot the reindeer, and made the sausages himself. Everything else came out of their organic garden and the only items that they didn’t grow or make, was the butter for the new potatoes, and the cream for the rhubarb dessert. Delicious.

Day 5 – The day of the Big Wind.

27 Flemington Place4— 

We kayaked west along the Sognefjord, which is over 200 km long, with depths reaching over 1000 m. As we headed out of the bay we were hit by strong wind. We had a head wind of up to 30 knots and it was freezing cold (the temp gauge the night before was at 7 degrees C. Russ and I were both very happy that we had taken our pogies. As we had about 25 km to do that day we hugged the coast, having little rests anywhere it was sheltered. Nic had earlier mentioned that we had to cross to the other side of the fiord. I was a concerned at the thought of doing that. With 30 knot winds and a solid breaking chop, both coming from the side, there was a good chance that we would have capsizes, and in those temperatures we could find ourselves in trouble. But, of course Nic and Mo had a Plan B. The fiord had three ferries doing an endless loop delivering vehicles and people around the area. We headed to the ferry terminal. We managed to find a small beach to land at, and had to haul the kayaks up a bank. The singles were heavy enough, but the two Eco Niizh doubles weighed over each 50 kg empty! Who knows what they weigh fully loaded! We hauled them up the bank, and carried them to the ferry. The ferries have a very fast turnaround time so when the ferry arrived we had to run with the kayaks to get on board. The crossing was only a few km so didn’t take long, then we had to run the kayaks off again. Next problem, how do we get back on the water? There was no convenient beach at this end. We discussed chucking the kayaks off the side of the wharf on a rope, then climbing down the ladder, but that would be time-consuming, and probably very bad for the wine. We were still thinking when the next ferry came in and Nic noticed that the boarding ramp could be raised and lowered and was controlled by the ferry. We asked the operator if he could please leave the ramp down so we could use that – he lowered it to within a metre of the water. That drop was much easier on the wine. We had only managed to get three boats on the water before the next ferry came in and we had to get out of the way. This was going to take hours. We explained the situation to the next ferry and he lowered the ramp right into the water. Seal launches! We could do three at a time! We were off.

Day 6 Our last day of paddling was 30 km and thankfully we had a beautiful day with a light tail wind. Mo was using his jacket as a sail, then someone got the tarp out and we rafted up but the wind was too light and it would take three days to get to camp at that speed. So we had to go back to using our paddles. We stayed at a commercial campground that evening, and those who opted to pay for a cabin even had underfloor heating.

Day 7 We had a long drive ahead of us back to Gudvangen. Our private shuttle bus and trailer picked us and our kayaks up in the morning. We visited the Nigardsbreen Glacier while Nic loaded the trailer with the kayaks and gear, and we went for a walk alongside the lake and the glacier. We



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Issue 87 Christmas 2017


EXTENSION travelled through the world’s longest tunnel which is 24.5 km – an impressive engineering feat but the scenery is tedious and I slept through most of it. Finally back to Voss late afternoon. We had a farewell dinner that night before saying goodbye to many of the group, but seven of us were staying on for the Extension, which had no kayaking, just travelling, exploring and hiking.

We had a spare day which enabled us to do some shopping (Janet had to buy new boots because hers had literally fallen apart). We also took the opportunity to do some laundry at the local campground – managed by another Kiwi. After exploring the Sognefjord to the north Nic took us to see Hardangerfjord to the south. The Hardagner area is considered one of the most beautiful areas in Norway.

It took eight strong paddlers to carry the fully loaded Eco Niihz

On our first night we stayed with Eirik just out of Voss. Eirik is undertaking the long job of restoring a mill. It is a virtual museum packed full of tools and other items that had just been abandoned when the mill stopped working. An historic house had been moved onto the property and it was available for people to stay. The house was lovely and with Eirik’s unique decorating style, interesting – including the bedside swing in Janet’s bedroom which was not for swinging on.


Issue 87 Christmas 2017

Our overnight accommodation in Fresvik

Day 1

Day 2

Today's hike to Kjellandbu Mountain Cabin was two hours each way. We were soon back above the snow level, and with lots of moody fog we reached the hikers’ hut where we stayed for lunch. It was quite small for a group of eight but we packed in and soon got a fire going to thaw out our feet. We couldn’t see much, and then the fog cleared to show that we were perched on the edge of a cliff with views down to the fiord over 1000 metres below. Wow, stunning.

Our plan was another ‘Big Walk’ to Trolltunga. It was a similar distance and effort as our last ‘Big Walk’, and the weather forecast for the day was terrible, with cold, wind and rain (and snow higher up). Half of the group went, and the rest stayed behind and we had our own little adventure. Janet and Gretchen decided to play Scrabble, then discovered that many of the Norwegian letters are quite different to English, so they started changing the rules – and I have never seen so much cheating going on! But by 11 am we were getting bored.

We then drove to the heart of the Hardanger fjord, and discovered more of the amazing tunnel system of Norway. One tunnel had a round-about in the middle where three roads met. We came out of one tunnel, crossed over one of the world’s longest suspension bridges which is 1.5 km long, and straight back into a tunnel on the other side. It puts our Waterview tunnel into perspective.

There was a dingy available for our use, and Nic had mentioned a pub 7 km along the fiord, so we decided to go take the dingy and go for lunch. When we got there we found that it was no ‘pub’, but a rather large flash hotel, and there we were in our wet weather gear, and not very clean boots. We decided to send in Janet to check it out. She found the maître d, explained that we were visitors from NZ and we had just tied our boat

That night we stayed at a private holiday home on the side of the fjord.

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Crossing the swing bridge on the way to Kjellandbu Mountain Cabin

up to the jetty outside, was that OK, and where can we get some lunch? He was very charming, but suggested that we move our boat a bit further down where there was a more suitable mooring. Then he looked outside, saw our 4m ‘super-yacht’, and burst out laughing. He was still charming, and said we could leave it there. We had a happy few hours having a lovely lunch and taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi.

Day 3

city and is a place that you must visit if you are ever in the area. This was our very last, last day, and the following morning we all headed off in different directions. We had an amazing trip. Every day brought new adventures. Many thanks to Nic and Mo who gave us a trip of a lifetime. Now, what are we going to do next year?

We did a lot of travelling through fruit farms, between fjords, glaciers, mountains and waterfalls. We stayed that night at Rosendal which was owned by a baron. We stayed in what was previously the servant’s accommodation, which had new bathrooms but was pretty much in its original condition. The next morning was the critical race of the America’s Cup. We had been getting results intermittently and were very excited at the prospect of a win to take the cup. Even if we had access to a TV, I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t have been televised. The best that we could do was an app on someone’s phone that had a live commentary and a digital animation of the race. While other guests were heading in to breakfast the kiwis were all hunched over the phone with the typical cheering and excitement that one would expect. We were getting some puzzled looks from others who didn’t know what was going on and we had to explain. No one else was nearly as excited as we were.

Day 4 We headed to Bergen where we spent a day exploring. It is a beautiful PAGE 16

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The mill that Eirik is restoring

Kjellandbu Mountain Cabin perched on the side of the cliff and the view from the window (left)

Issue 87 Christmas 2017


Te Maika - and the far-side of Kawhia Harbour

By Ruth E. Henderson

When remoteness is a lure, the west coast a magnet, and a long weekend coincides with mid-day tides – the Kawhia Harbour is an obvious choice. PAGE 18

Issue 87 Christmas 2017

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Renee Olivier amongst the limestone rocks. Photo by Ruth E. Henderson


I’d camped at Kawhia township and paddled on the harbour four or five times, and on each occasion been totally frustrated by the limited time frame we had to explore the fantastic limestone sedimentary rocks on the opposite, south eastern

A reconnaissance was in order: Te Maika is isolated, it is off-the-grid, water comes off the roof, solar panels give enough juice for lights and to charge up cell-phones, the fridge and stove are gas powered, and the only access is from the sea or across farmland by quad bike...

side. As the harbour is full of sand bars and extremely tidal we could only ever get on the water two hours before high tide: the paddle over to the other side took an hour; that left only two hours to picnic and play amongst the Jurassic rocks before we had to vamoose, predictably into a westerly headwind back to base. Not satisfactory at all. ‘If only’ I could find a friendly farmer who would let me and a couple of other ‘intrepid’ paddlers camp on their land, on the other-side. Then even if the water ran out, we could explore on foot. Now, let serendipity enter the equation. At a Kawau Island Book Club meeting I met Jude. She and her husband Spencer had recently arrived on the Island, and were managing a large property. It transpired that they had a farm out Kawhia way...and a bach at Te Maika, accessed at Te Waitere. I knew exactly where they were...they had been winking at me, taunting me from maps for years. The cluster of dots next to the name Te Maika represented baches: at the entrance of Kawhia Harbour, protected from the Tasman Sea, by the southern headland. I had stuck gold, black iron-sand gold. PAGE 20

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Luckily, Mags is always up for an adventure, so on a weekend in May we set off with a map, a photo of the bach, and some notes on where to find the key etc. Once on SH31, heading towards Kawhia, we kept our eyes peeled for the turn off onto Kawhia Harbour Rd; 30 minutes later we turned onto Te Waitere Road, which ended at a jetty and boat ramp. As instructed we parked the car up the steep hill behind the public toilets, then set off to explore whilst the tide was high. We found individual baches nestled in the bush, a couple of white beaches of pipi shells were a surprise, and as we neared the entrance to the harbour, the sea sparkled, bouncing light diamonds across to Mt Pirongia in the east and Mt Karioi in the north. Eyeing up the baches on the foreshore of Te Maika, we soon identified ‘ours’ and quickly had the kettle singing. In total there are about 30 baches, some derelict, some neglected, all real dinkum baches vintage early 50’s. Apparently at one stage there were four families living here, and the kids rode horses to school, about 12 kms away at Taharoa. Tom Rewi ran a general store and Post Office serviced by launch twice a week from Kawhia. A generator supplied power for the freezers, and he sold everything from food to saddles and raincoats. Earlier history has inland Maori tribes in 1820, forcing the Ngati Toa off their ancestral homeland of nearly 600 years. Their famous chief Te Rauparaha led them south to Kapiti Island.

Although the area is of importance to archaeologists, geologists and ornithologists, my main interest on this recce trip was to figure out the tides to access and explore amongst those incredible rocks. We found that we could launch one hour either side of low tide at the Te Waitere boat ramp, and likewise from Te Maika beach. Wheels were a huge advantage as long as you struck sand not mud. Using the current and channels we discovered that we could shoot up the harbour on the northern side of Te Moku Island to Pukeroa and Okura Points where the ‘best’ rock chasms

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Issue 87 Christmas 2017


As it turned out, on Labour weekend, Mags was rostered to work, but I had no problem selling the idea of a remote weekend away to seven other Yakity Yak Kayak club friends. I’d decided to make it an invitation only, ‘girl’s weekend’ with four in tents, four inside, two cooking groups, with car-pooling compulsory. Shelley and I were the advance party and left Auckland on Friday mid-morning – I wanted to get the bach up and running, clear away any mouse poos, dead ants...before the other girls arrived. Unfortunately this meant we arrived at Te Maika at a dead very low tide. Think it took about the same time to paddle the 7 km from the boat ramp at Te Waitere as it did to push and pull our boats through the slushy black mud, one at a time, at Te Maika. Jock, two doors down, about to go out fishing, told us if we couldn’t get the fridge to fire up, he’d help. Kids two doors away on the other side playing with sticks, making patterns in the sand, gave us a wave. A friendly neighbourhood! The next day we aborted our plans to explore Te was a bit grotty, overcast and we went straight back to Te Waitere to meet the others as pre-arranged, at noon, to guide them to the bach. The mid-day tide meant the portage was minimal. Soon the backyard looked like a typical kayaking camp; tents and clothes lines with booties lined up at the door to the bach. With the tide receding, it was time to explore. The other baches, the wild horses, the old fashioned telephone booth complete with a once working phone, the remarkable rock formations and patterns, the sand shapes and puddles, pools, starfish and the wild Tasman Sea enchanted

Shelley at the garden gate, Photo by Janet Dalton

are, explore those on foot, then have enough water to get right up the Rakaunui Inlet and into Rakaukeke Creek before the tide turned. On the homeward journey, I wanted to stick to the southern side of Te Motu, to avoid being swept out over the Kawhia bar. But we left our shift to the south too late and ran out of water near the island and had to drag our boats about a kilometre to get to the safe channel. However we did manage to enjoy eight hours, not a measly four, of on-the-water adventuring. Over the weekend we also roamed the hills, black sand beaches, rocky outcrops... yes, we’d be back!

us all. But it was time for dinner...Shelley the chef and her helpers created a gourmet dish of smoked fish, pears, herbs and baby potatoes, with Mary magically producing a Pavlova to top it off. We then turned to the boardgames shelf. “Jenga” was the choice... a test of dexterity versus gravity; who would send the building blocks crashing down? We were all up by 7.00 am ready for a big day, but visibility was almost zero...and it was raining...and a bit windy... Only Jill was keen to paddle Ph: 0800 866322 Recreational and commercial roof rack systems to fit all vehicles and a huge range of accessories including:

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Issue 87 Christmas 2017

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with me in a white-out and I wasn’t in a rush... Instead we all clamoured up the hill for a walk on the wild west coast. The terrain was a bit mountain goatish, we clung to rushes and finally dropped down to the surge and roar of the ocean. Spotting some locals using a track through the sand dunes, we had an easier time getting back to the other side of the peninsula... back to our bach, hot drinks and a shelf full of games. Scrabble won the day. But soon cabin fever became contagious and Jill, Shelley, Terumi

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and I went for a ‘dip’. What can I was extremely exhilarating and cold? But when we got out we felt refreshed and warm! And ready for a ‘take two’ walk to the mouth of the harbour. That night it was Renee’s team effort...with her beautiful pre-cooked lamb curry, beans and coleslaw, nicely finished with Janet’s date slice. (I rarely say this: I’ve gotta get that recipe!) Talk about clamping in the wild! Pictionary was that nights choice of entertainment.

Rock pool – Photo by Shelley Stuart

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On our final day Janet and Andrea had to ‘rush off’. It was still a bit damp and grey but calm and I just had to get the rest of the girls to the limestone rocks...just for a taste, enough to entice them back another time. Think I succeeded...the pictures tell the story...and it goes to show that when the road runs out – life gets interesting. P.S. Just because you don’t have access to a bach, don’t let this stop you thoroughly exploring this part of the harbour. Launch at and return to Te’s less than an hour’s drive from Kawhia town where there are heaps of accommodation options.

PLEASE NOTE: Te Maika and the adjacent Totara Point are both land blocks managed by Te Maika Trust Board on behalf of the Maori King. Permission must be sought to walk or camp on Te Maika and Totara Point, and that permission may not be readily given. The Te Maika Trust Board is presently working closely with the Waikato Regional Council and others to create Te Maika Mainland Reserve. Ecorestoration work along with predator trapping and poisoning are all getting underway.


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Issue 87 Christmas 2017

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View of Te Maika from the hill top Photo by Ruth E. Henderson

Issue 87 Christmas 2017


Join Join the the Yakity Yakity Yak Yak Kayak Kayak Club Club n now

WHY JOIN? • Meet New Friends • Lots of Great Trips • Discover the Great Outdoors • Safety Minded • Opportunities to Improve Your Skills • and much more...

Enrol at /join email: Yakity Yak members in Norway 2017 Photo supplied by Larraine Williams

w, and let the adventures begin. Come and join us on one of these activities • • • • • • • • • • • •

Skills Practice Day Surf Management Course Tutukaka Urupukapuka Abel Tasman Mangakino & the Waikato River Northland Explorer Whangaehu / Manganui-a te-ao - 2 day weekend trip Kaituna / Wairoa - 2 day weekend trip Rangitikei Gorge Section Lake Karapiro & Pokaiwhenua Stream Waihi Beach Coastline

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Paddling Between Tin Tents - a weekend winter paddle in Pelorus Sound By Nathan Fa’avae

Pelorus Sound / Te Hoiere, the cousin to the bustling Queen Charlotte Sound, is a much less visited and quieter waterway. I enjoy sea kayaking in both Sounds, sometimes I like the energy of Queen Charlotte, the engine thudding Ferry traffic linking Picton and Wellington, the recreational sailing boats and other activity taking place, it’s a serene location without question. Sometimes I seek the isolation and starkness of Pelorus Sound, somewhat fitting, comparing the two sounds is similar to comparing the North and South Island, or Wellington and Picton. There is a winter trip I have done a few variations of that I want to share. In early July my wife and I plus two friends had arranged childcare and booked a weekend away on the water. We had hoped to paddle D’urville Island, but the weather was horrendous so that was off the cards. Admittedly, most people wouldn’t have probably gone away with weather warnings in place, but weekends without children are precious so we were all determined to make something work, and the Pelorus trip jumping between Tin Tents was ideal. Let me explain.

energetic it is possible to run the shuttle via the Nydia Bay walkway, or if there are enough people in the party, split up and paddle opposite ways. I prefer to start at Duncan Bay as it is a glorious evening paddle into Matai Hut, a gem of a hut managed by the Matai Bay Hut Trust. It is a stunning bay with a hut at sea level, with six bunks, a log burner and a large comfortable living area. Personally, on summer trips I’d prefer to beach camp, but in the winter, and in poor weather, the hut is the Shangri-La. We got on the water in the dark early on a Friday night with an easy 6 km paddle to the hut, it was blowing more than we expected and it was a jet black night, but the little light straying from our strobes was enough to catch the planktonic phosphorescence light show as our paddle blades disturbed the water. Night paddling always seems a bit of an effort but I never regret it, always vowing to do more. After some forced navigation attention to the map, we found the hut and settled in, hustling up a cup of

The outline of the route is a 65 km paddle from Duncan Bay in Tennyson Inlet to Havelock, traversing the wind funnelling Tawhitinui Reach. The reach is either calm, a howling nor’wester or biting sou’easter, it is worth planning your direction wisely. We opted for north to south, as a north west wind was forecast, meaning tail wind down the reach. Being an A to B trip, you can set it up with a vehicle shuttle but this involves quite a bit of driving. An easy option is to get dropped off one way by the Pelorus Mail Boat ( For the fit and



Issue 87 Christmas 2017

Matai Bay Hut

Nydia Bay Hut

tea, stoking the fire, dunking biscuits, snapping chocolate. Then it rained, Houston style. The pelting on the roof was further reminder that Matai Bay Hut was absolutely the best option.

The final day was along Hikapu Reach to Havelock. This is one of my favourite sections as the tidal flows are really dynamic: hot tip, it pays to go into Havelock with an incoming tide.

We woke to surface flooding, a cloudy stormy day but the clouds were going the way we wanted. Team work.

By now the weather system had cleared, the sun dealt to the clouds and we got our caps out, it enabled us to stop on a beach for lunch and hot brew, to enjoy the area longer before we got back to home life.

Ahead of us on the kayak agenda was about 35 km of paddling to Nydia Lodge, an astounding facility managed by the Department of Conservation. The lodge sleeps more than 30 people, easily, has hot showers, electricity and more comfort that a salty sea kayaker really needs, but on a wet wintery day, it was another night in a Tin Tent, awesome. We intended to stop midway at Jacobs Bay for lunch and a stretch but the wind soon picked up, the rain set in so we had a magical long distance surf session with the kilometres flying by, the hot showers closer by the minute. True to form, we hardly saw a soul out there, sure, plenty of seals, dolphins, penguins and sea birds, but not many humans, and no other paddlers, not that paddlers and humans are inherently different. We pulled into Nydia Lodge weary having done a long paddle without a break and only fuelled by snack food, so after showers and dry gear fitted, it was time to refuel and warm up, bask in the satisfaction of having such an amazing tail wind.

Thankfully, a friend who lives close moved our vehicle for us so we felt very lucky, for simple logistics, epic tail winds, Tin Tents to sleep in, food to spare. Anyone wishing to paddle this route and finds that Matai Hut and Nydia Lodge are booked already, there are a number of lodges along the route, but most of them close for winter so check ahead of time. In summer time there are five DOC campsites evenly spaced along the route providing plenty of options. There are a few kayak rental options also. Pelorus Sound is a must do trip. Resources places/pelorus-and-kenepuru-sounds-area/things-to-do/huts/matai-bayhut/ places/pelorus-and-kenepuru-sounds-area/things-to-do/lodges/ nydia-lodge/ Issue 87 Christmas 2017


TALES OF KAYAK CRAY POTTING First printed NZ Kayak Magazine Issue 41

In the short time I have been cray potting from my fishing kayak I have had no shortage of incidents, some mildly funny others downright annoying. It makes me wonder if this has been just a bout of bad luck, a sign of personal ineptness, perhaps even the dreaded onset of senility. I try to banish debilitating thoughts with the counter argument: the road to success and expertise is invariably paved with incidents. Even that theory is debatable, judging from the predominance of experts, including fishing greats, who seemingly have never put a foot wrong. My cray potting got off to a good start. I scored a couple of pots from my neighbour, got a Kai-Koura test pot from its manufacturer, which incidentally out-fished the Warehouse net pots 4:1. When bait in my net pots was ravished by crabs, a friend showed me how to make nifty sniffer bait cages from plastic garden netting. That has totally eliminated this problem. Then thanks to a friendly diver I was able to find more good cray habitat close to my home. All in all I was doing so well that hardly a morning went by without at least one crayfish coming up. One of my most productive locations has been New Plymouth’s port breakwater. Constructed from great boulders and manmade concrete akmons its many cavities provide a natural sanctuary for crays and other sea life that need shelter. My first remarkable incident happened soon after I began potting at the Lee Breakwater. PAGE 30

Issue 87 Christmas 2017

By Herb Spannagl

An octopus attacked crayfish in my pot. In the confines of a kayak it is not easy to free the tangle of firmly sucked on octopus arms, especially when some are attached to one’s legs. One morning I pulled up a particularly big brute that was trying to demolish a crayfish through the cage. It was so determined to hold onto its prize that I only managed to get rid of it by a few direct hits with the paddle. I removed the cray or rather what was left of it and then paddled off to do some line fishing. My speed was slower than usual but I put that down to a steady headwind. Once I arrived at my fishing destination, I anchored, put my berley pot out and settled down in the gently rocking swell to wait for my first bite. While I was concentrating on fishing I felt something moving under my butt. Yes, there it was again, the unmistakable feeling of a probing finger. Through my thin pants I could feel every poke, every exploratory push. I sat bolt upright with my mind racing in panic mode. Unable to jump up I had to slowly shift away into a side-saddle position to get a look at the seat. That’s when I saw that the “mystery” finger was the tip of an octopus arm exploring through one of the scupper holes that drains the seating area. As I watched more arms appeared through other scuppers and eventually some came over the side. Obviously it was the same beast I had knocked off the cray pot. He had hitched a ride on the bottom of my kayak. No wonder I had a slow paddle. Gory as it may sound my only option was to amputate several arms before my determined stowaway decided to abandoned ship. My second incident was not funny at all. I had already discovered that the closer I set my pots to the breakwater’s concrete akmons the better they worked. Other people did too and soon there was a line of buoys all

along the breakwater. We all got consistent catches but as it turned out this was not a free ride since one morning my buoys had simply vanished. At first I thought my pots had been stolen but after a bit of searching I spotted a blue rope from one of my pots tangled in the akmons. Luckily the swell was low, allowing me to get close enough to the gigantic concrete blocks to hook out the rope with the paddle. It was dangerous work but with good timing I was able to free the rope and the pot, which was also trapped among the concrete forms. Not suspecting any thing untoward I refilled the bait cage and placed the pot a good 25 metres from the wall. Despite more intensive searching I could find no sign of my second pot. When I arrived at the ramp early next morning I met a couple of very angry mates who had just been out to clear their pots. They only found one of four, which like mine the day before, was also trapped among the boulders. It had a grapple hook with its own line tangled in the pot line close to the buoy. This evidence pointed to a night raid by thieves who had used a grapple to snare the ropes of any pot close enough to reach from the breakwater. However, when trying to pull them sideways most of the pots snagged before they could pull them out. The swell did the rest, tangling the ropes and further jamming the pots and buoys. That was obviously what had happened to my own pots the previous day. As I had feared I again found my Kai-Koura pot jammed solid and its rope hopelessly tangled. I tried all day at varying stages of the tide to free the mess and finally succeeded with the help of a diver to salvage the pot. As he cut it loose he found the other pot nearby and freed that one too. I was lucky to have got away with only losing ropes and buoys to such an unexpected threat. Until this incident I had only worried about sharks in the sea not those on land. That incident and the subsequent long spell of foul weather on our West Coast disrupted my plans to collect a few more crays for a neighbour’s 60th birthday cum retirement party. With the date looming ever closer I decided to try my home made snatch pot in the much calmer lee of the breakwater. I tied an old rope to a Janola bottle buoy and fixed an extra junk of railway steel to the bottom of the net. The theory of snatch potting is that you paddle out after dark, lower the baited net near a cray bearing structure and after say 20 min. quickly pull it up; hopefully laden with the crawlies. One dark night I did just that and despite being declared insane by my better half I put most of the theory into practice without any trouble at all, with the only snag that someone had forgotten to tell the crays to play their part. I did two sets like an old hand but somehow during the third a bit of twisted rope caught in the net bag and before I could do anything about it the weighted net pulled the buoy slowly under until it disappeared beyond the beam of my torch. It is hard to describe my feelings at that moment. Probably surprise, anger, followed by resignation and finally relief;

because deep down I was never sure if this snatch potting was really going to work. Needless to say I got no empathy from the TV couch potatoes back home either. Editors note: The area to the south west of New Plymouth Harbour is now the Tapuae Marine Reserve.


LEADING THE MARKET SINCE 1994 Issue 87 Christmas 2017


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Invest In Your Future

By James Fitness

Having the right gear and knowing how to use it may mean you’ll have a future.

Safety flags, bright boats, PFDs, hats and clothing all help to make yourself visible.

Every weekend hundreds of enthusiastic sea kayakers cruise inner harbours or take on the elements exploring coastlines and offshore islands. Most trips end in great memories and plans to do it all again. Unfortunately, a few don’t. A good trip plan can avoid most bad experiences but having the right gear for those ‘just in case moments’ is essential. No matter what your trip plan expectations are, make sure you carry the right safety gear. Kayak - make sure the kayak you are paddling suits your intended purpose and your weight including the gear you plan to take. Setting off to circumnavigate Lake Waikaremoana on a two metre sit-on-top kayak will make for a very long and arduous trip. Buoyancy Aid - Buoyancy Aids lose their buoyancy steadily over time. Make sure yours will still provide the buoyancy you need. Test your buoyancy aid by tying 6 kg of weight to it (more for white water BA’s). Then place the buoyancy aid in a tub full of water. If it sinks, so might you. Paddle - Think of your paddle like the gears of a car. Your paddle length and blade design need to suit the type of paddling you intend to do. Get your local kayak store to match a paddle to you, your kayak and your idea of a great day on the water. Paddling with a brick will slow you down and put you and your paddling buddies at risk. Clothing - On al trips, stay warm and dry by wearing good quality gear, such as Sharkskin thermals an a good quality paddle jacket that is wind proof, waterproof and breathable. Check your paddle jacket is seam sealed or it will eventually leak. No matter what your plan is - take extra clothes. Not just for after the paddle but during the paddle as well. Extra polypro, warm hats and sun PAGE 32

Issue 87 Christmas 2017




Helmet, compass and split paddle stowed on deck

hats should always be carried. I also carry a black plastic bin liner as an emergency paddle jacket or body warmer. Paddle Float - An essential safety item for sea kayakers to self-rescue in the event of a capsize. OK, so you have tried getting back into your kayak unaided and had no problems. But, were those realistic conditions for capsizing in the first place? It only takes a few failed attempts or a few minutes in cold water to get hypothermic. If you don’t know how to use a paddle float, ask your local kayak store for advice

Where cell phones fade, a VHF radio will still provide communication with the coastguard and

boaties and there is access to weather services. Whichever form of communication you carry, make sure it is in a dry bag. PLBs (Personal Locator Beacon) are now at a price that justifies carrying one. Should you have trouble on the high seas and your phone and VHF radio fail to raise the alarm, this baby will bring help directly to you. First Aid Kit - Another item to take along every time you venture out in your kayak. Don’t forget to beef up your first aid kit to suit more adventurous

My Every Day Gear

Dry bag of spare clothes and paddle jacket

Dry bag containing first aid kit and smaller items

Paddle Float with tether

Webbing sling Flares


Split Paddle - Most sea kayakers love rock gardening. Make sure you carry a spare paddle just in case you get too close and manage to snap a paddle. Coastal paddlers who may be

Communications - Cell phone coverage is fairly good in most commonly paddled waters. Mobiles make a very easy means of: communicating with friends, to get weather updates, give trip updates or to call emergency services if needed. If you are going on a multiday trip, ensure you have a battery pack or a means to charge the phone.

Bilge P

Pump or Bailer Once you’re back in the kayak you need to get the water out to regain stability. A hand pump works better than a bailer in rough conditions as you can put your spray skirt back on, and then slip the pump through a small gap into the cockpit.

doing lots of surf exits and entries should also carry split paddles.

First aid kit Spare rudder line/ string

Sunscreen Duct tape and electrical tape

Issue 87 Christmas 2017


trips. Do a first aid course. A two day outdoor course is more suited to kayaking. Helmet - Sea kayakers on multi-day coastal expeditions should strap a helmet to their decks ready to put on for rock gardening or for the odd gnarly surf landing that may be forced upon them. Coming out of your kayak may hurt your pride but being smacked on the head by your pride and joy will hurt even more.


Flares - An essential item for expedition paddlers who may get several kilometres off shore. Pinpoint flares are for use once you have line of sight with your rescuer. Parachute flares only burn for around 30 seconds so once again, you need to be sure someone is looking for you or has a high chance of spotting your flare. Check the expiry date on your flares and replace when required.


An alternative is to carry an LED Electronic flare. These last longer and there is no risk of injury through burns. Unfortunately, these are not seen as a replacement for pyrotechnic flares under NZ Maritime Regulations. Safety Flag - Flags are becoming more and more common amongst sea kayakers, especially in our busier harbours. Give boaties every




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Issue 87 Christmas 2017

Kai Waka

Rua Kai

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My Overnight Emergency Kit the night before. Towing another kayaker can be very dangerous for both parties. Anyone carrying a towline should undergo training to ensure they know how to use it safely. Knife - Anyone carrying a towline, fishing line, nets or a sail should also have a knife on hand. If caught in lines underwater, you will need a knife to free yourself as fast as possible. Buoyancy aids often have a knife patch to hold the knife.

Black plastic bag Overnight emergency kit container. Rope Spare bandages

More tape

Tent Pegs

Chemical hand warmers

for tarp (not shown)

Lighter & rubber to burn

Gas cooker (cylinder not shown)

chance of seeing you, especially if paddling amongst ocean swells. Fluoro orange flags glow brightly, especially in fading afternoon light. Deck Light - A single round white light is the law, putting this on a one metre stand off your deck means that it can be seen. Wearing a head torch or having a hand torch to wave at oncoming vessels is also recommended in emergencies. Strobe lights are for emergency use only, not for general night paddling. Also carry a glow stick on your B.A. in case you end up in the water and

Spare food

(Source: Sea Kayaking Safety Gear by Karen & Steve Knowles)

Microstuff drybags keep phones, ipods, wallets, cameras dry Extra safety clip USA company Seattle Sports makes these strong .75 litre mini drybags for all those things you need close at hand. Straps securely to your bouyancy vest. Made from PU coated rip-stop nylon with RF welded seams.

Watch Compass Whistle

Generally, we all go paddling and come home having not used our emergency gear in earnest. But the more you paddle, the higher the chance is that, that day will come. Be prepared, have the equipment and know how to use it. Take that first aid, kayaking skills or surfing course. When the time comes, it’ll be money well spent.

your deck light or torch fails when wet. Tow Lines - A wellplanned sea kayak trip should mean your towline is your least used accessory. However even the most experienced paddler can twist a wrist at lunchtime or regret that curry from

Whistle - A small item kept on your buoyancy aid can so easily save your bacon. Your whistle needs to be loud enough to be heard over roaring seas and wind. Buying a quality, loud whistle is well worth the investment for your safety.

VHF radio Knife

Snacks, suncreen, Take 5 form,

Tow system pencil and more...

Available with or without audio port ÂŽ

My Personal Gear

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Issue 87 Christmas 2017



Top Trips for this Summer New Zealanders are lucky enough to have amazing kayaking spots right on our door step. Often these hidden treasures are hard to find. We’ve picked a few trips that are not too arduous and that make the most of the beautiful country in which we live. Most of these trips are suitable for sea kayaks and sit-on-tops. So grab the whanau and your friends and take to the water!


Kayaking is a great way to see part of the amazing Abel Tasman National Park. A round trip launching from Marahau, covering some of the beautiful beaches and two of the islands close in to shore as well as a visit to the well known Split Apple Rock. There are lots of beaches along the way to stop off and relax. Abel Tasman National Park (established in 1942) is renowned for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs, and world-famous Abel Tasman Coast Track. It also has a mild climate and is a good place to visit at any time of the year.

Orakei Korako

Begin the adventure at the Tutukau Bridge on the Waikato River. You’ll paddle through the remarkable landscapes and natural beauty of the gorge and past the hidden valley (Orakei - Korako, geothermal park) where you can see gushing geysers, silica terraces and boiling mud pools from sitting in your kayak. There is a charge to visit the site if you wish to land. Continue on to sample the hot water at Waihunuhunu stream. Then return to do the ‘squeeze’ and soak in a hot pool, before a coffee at the café at Orakei-Korako.


Issue 87 Christmas 2017

LAke Waikaremoana

Lake Waikaremoana (Sea of Rippling waters) and Lake Waikareiti are located in the 225,000 hectares of Te Urewera National Park, which is the largest untouched native forest reserve in the North Island. The area is approximately 600 metres above sea level, giving rise to a climate that can be cool, wet and changeable. Stunning views, the surrounding bush covered hills and distant peninsulas highlight the benefits of exploring the area on the water in a kayak. Visiting Lake Waikaremoana and the Te Urewera National Park is worth the time and effort spent in planning and getting there. The unsealed road ensures that the area isn’t over populated.

CAvalli islands

Situated 3 km off Matauri Bay, Northland, this group of islands is a haven for fishermen and explorers alike. Orca and seals are often seen in these waters. Base yourself at the Matauri Bay Motor Camp or the DOC hut on Motukawanui Island and explore the many islands, bays and caves. The fishing is awesome and if you’re a diver - the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior is located east of Hamaruru Island in around 20 metres of water. The Cavalli Passage can be challenging, so check the weather before you go.




‘Auckland’s Best Kept Secret’ LEADING THE MARKET SINCE 1994


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Urupukapuka Island

At less than 2 km from Rawhiti, Urupukapuka is within easy reach. Once there, you are in the centre of the Bay of Islands. Simply potter around the coast or island hop to your hearts content. For the more adventurous, a trip out to Cape Brett is within reach.For divers, a scallop hot spot with great fishing opportunities for the keen fisherman. Urupukapuka Island has a DOC campsite with cold showers and drinking water. Booking is essential and the Christmas period is particularly busy.

Somes Island

A day, or half day paddle to Somes Island in Wellington Harbour is well worth the trip. Somes Island and is a great place to stop and have a picnic. It has a very interesting history that DOC staff on the island can give you an informative talk on. DO NOT carry any unwanted pests onto the island as it is a sanctuary for many native species. Landing on the island is prohibited apart from the wharf area on the north end of the island. Take your lunch and allow at least an hour to have a look around the island. If you are lucky you may see tuatara. Please stay on the paths and take all of your rubbish when you leave. DOC have houses on the island that can be booked for an overnight stay as well as some camping space, you must pre book on the DOC website.


Issue 87 Christmas 2017

Motuora Island

Motuora Island in the Hauraki Gulf is a beautiful island, replanted and stocked with native species. Working bees for planting, weeding etc. are held regularly. Take walking shoes as there are many tracks and excellent views. At the NE corner of the island DOC are encouraging gannets to start a colony. Part of this programme is a speaker system set up on top of the cliff broadcasting gannet calls which can be puzzling if not expected. On the eastern side is Still Bay which is a lovely place for a break. It has golden sand and pohutakawa trees. Nice rock gardening on the eastern side. This is a kiwi breeding area and kiwi are often seen at night, even in the campground. A side trip to the wreck of the Rewa on Moturekareka and/or Motuketekete is worthwhile if time permits. Pest free Island – ensure that kayaks and gear are checked for pests – rodents, Argentine ants, rainbow skinks, seeds.

Hotwater Beach

One of New Zealands iconic paddles with some of the best rock gardening around. a soak in the popular hot pools on the beach. Leaving Hahei, paddle east out to the point before turning south. Follow the cliff lined coast with its numerous rocky outcrops. This is a great opportunity to do a spot of fishing and snorkelling in and around the bays and islets. Note the coast between Hahei and Hotwater beach does not have any easily accessible exit points. Landing at Hotwater Beach can be a bit tricky if the surf is up. The hotwater can be found on the beach inside the set of rocks at the southern end of the beach. Caution - the water is hot!

Issue 87 Christmas 2017


Rod Tube New from Railblaza The Rod Tube has been designed in answer to a lot of requests from customers. It is perfect for kayaks where anglers want to keep their reels elevated and clear of waves and splash. With the innovative RAILBLAZA drop-down gimbal, you can either keep your reel high and dry, or slot the reel into the end of the tube. The Rod Tube is available as a complete kit with StarPort HD or as Rod Tube only to fit all other RAILBLAZA Ports.


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Kayaks are ideal for targeting the large solitary snapper. (Photo supplied by Vking Kayaks)

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Issue 87 Christmas 2017

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Issue 87 Christmas 2017


Bixpy Jet Motor Take the effort out of paddling with a motor Compact, light and powerful - A Bixpy Jet can boost your kayak to speeds of up to 11 km/h (tested on Profish Reload) with 10 forward speeds and three reverse speeds. You control your Bixpy Jet with a wireless wrist remote that is included with every Outboard Battery Pack. If your kayak has a rudder and you would like to motorize it, you can download a DIY rudder template and make your own motorized rudder! You can attach the Bixpy Jets to virtually any kayak rudder using this method. You can also use the same method to attach the jets to virtually any fin on any watercraft. You can also paddle easily with the motor turned off, as it creates almost no drag due to it’s incredibly compact size and unique micro propellor.


BATTERY TYPE - Lithium ion rechargeable CHARGE TIME - 4 hours SPEEDS - 10 speeds forward and 3 speeds in reverse PERFORMANCE: Low speed 4kph, battery life is 7 hours Mid speed 7.2kph, battery life is 3 hours Full speed 10.5kph, battery life is 1:15 hours CONTROL - Wireless remote BATTERY STATUS - 6 LED indicator on box SAFETY - High quality magnetic kill leash for emergency shut-off PROTECTION - Water-proof, dirt-proof and corrosion resistant housing and components WATER USE - Marine grade stainless steel components for salt water or fresh water use ADDITIONAL FEATURES - Battery box includes outlets for 5V USB and 12V Auxiliary power (for fish finders and other electronics) Battery & Motor weight - 4.5 kg Battery dimensions - 28x22x8cm Motor size - 27x9x8cm Kit includes: One Bixpy Jet Motor Bixpy Outboard Battery Box Bixpy Wireless Remote Control

For more info: Go to, Visit your local Canoe & Kayak Centre, or contact Viking Kayaks on 07 8888738 PAGE 42

Issue 87 Christmas 2017

KASK Kayak Fest 2018 - Wellington 2-4 March 2018 Ngatitoa Domain, Mana

Learn new skills, meet new people, explore new waters

From the calm of the Pauatahanui Inlet, to the surge of the Plimmerton Harbour, the KASK Kayak Fest 2018 – Wellington promises to introduce you to new places, all contained in a small area. There will be classes for learning new skills, polishing up on those already learned, or go with a group to the nearby Mana Island reserve. Visit the link for more information at: Contact the event team by email: The following Int. Kayak Week in the Sounds:

‘SUNSEEKER AWNING The Sunseeker 2.5m Awning is a must-have for any great adventure. Savour the great outdoors without worrying about the sunburn thanks to its UV50+ rating. Simply mount the Sunseeker Awning to your roof rack and roll out the 2.5m / 8.2ft awning to create a lovely 5.15sqm / 55.38 sq ft shaded area for you and your family to relax in. The Sunseeker Awning is perfect for watching sport, camping, picnics, lunch breaks at work and lazy days at the beach.

ALUMINIUM FOLDING LADDER BRACKET The Aluminium Folding Ladder Bracket facilitates the attachment of your Rhino-Rack Aluminium Folding Ladder to any side of your Pioneer System. This easily installed Aluminium Folding Ladder Bracket is engineered to be strong, durable and corrosion resistant. No matter where you’re working or exploring it will stand up to the elements. Once you’ve finished using the Aluminium Folding Ladder keep the dirt outside your vehicle by fixing it to your Pioneer Roof System.

Issue 87 Christmas 2017


Make loading kayaks easy Easy quick mounting and dismounting boat roller. No need for a heavy permanently mounted system that effects handling and fuel consumption. 2 mounting positions to fit most vehicle. Just apply to clean glass or paintwork when needed. Then use roller to roll kayak onto your vehicle.


Phone your closest kayak retailer or for further information email Great Stuff Ltd Distributed by Great Stuff. email




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Issue 87 Christmas 2017

Paddler: Sam Ricketts, Photographer: Callum Parker Photo Andrew Cornaga

Issue 87 Christmas 2017


First Descent of the Upper Rio Diamante - Northern Patagonia, Argentina. By Sam Ricketts

The Rio Diamante is a gem of a river in Mendoza, Northern Argentina. It is rafted and kayaked, and has a great 50 km section of Grade Three with some spectacular Grade Five. The upper section of the river however, had not been explored until Silvio Gurrieri and I dropped it, in early 2013. Early that year I was living in the small Argentinian town of Potrerillos, finishing off three months of rafting work on the beautiful Mendoza River, one hour north into the mountains from Mendoza city. On the 7th of February, I got a call from Silvio Gurrieri, the local kayaking legend. “Sam, I have an expedition for us. It’s pretty big, maybe ten days and, oh, a first descent.” He made me promise over the phone that day to come with him, as he needed to sort out permits to enter the Maipo National Park, where we would start our journey.


I agreed to join him on the expedition and proceeded to ask the local guides about the river. Their responses made me a little nervous. Apparently, Silvio has been trying to go on this mission for years and hadn’t found anyone crazy enough to go with him! I’m happy I made the decision to go with Silvio that day - it turned out to be one of the most spectacular, committing and stand-out trips of my life. Issue 87 Christmas 2017

Crazy Geology on day four - Photo by Sam Ricketts

One week later the two of us started the 120 km first descent expedition of the Upper Rio Diamante. Our put-in was 3287 m above sea level at the Diamante Lagoon, which is at the foot of the famous Maipo Volcano (5500 m). This area is in the northern section of Payunia; the second largest concentration of volcanoes in the world. We dropped 2000 m in elevation in seven days, paddling through numerous, gigantic boxed-in canyons, each differing in rock formation and colour, and all with challenging and classic whitewater. A geological wonderland, we stumbled upon fossils every day and landscapes ranging from volcanic alpine meadows, rugged crumbling mountain ranges and deep and narrow bedrock. We were under the constant watch of condor, the world’s largest bird; guanaco, the world’s largest mountain llama; and the powerful puma. Isolated by the second tallest mountain range in the world, just a couple hundred kilometres from Aconcagua (6962 m), the second tallest mountain on earth. Over the last three days of the expedition the volume of the river increased from its many small tributaries and the river plunged into a deep and absolutely breath-taking gorge. This was the most stressful part of our trip, and where 70 percent of our gradient was lost. Right from the entrance of the gorge we paddled five to six hours of continuous boxed in Grade four - five, ranging from boulder rapids to tight slots. We camped on the first flat opening we saw, and since this ended up being the last stop before another four hours of must-run whitewater, we were pretty stoked

Issue 87 Christmas 2017


Put-in Lake Photo supplied by Sam Ricketts

we made the decision to stop! The next day, we paddled down some more towering gorges until hitting the tightest and most narrow gorge of the trip. This section only had 500 metres of rapid, but what followed was a still, very silent stretch of river. The walls were pitch black with red veins cutting through them. Looking up to the sky was a tiny slit of light. It was a very special moment; we were humbled and so proud to be in the depths of this amazing gorge. On the sixth day, we came to a very serious portage. With a steep, slippery shale slope to climb up and rocks tumbling down around us, we had to go one-at-a-time pitching up the boats on our rope. It took us eight hours to climb to the canyon rim, about 300 metres above the river. It was this night, camping under a giant boulder, that a condor flew directly above my head, soaring up and down the canyon. The next day it took us another eight or nine hours to get down to the river and paddle the last of the canyon. At 4 pm on the seventh day, we completed the first full descent of the Upper Diamante and what we now call the Grand Canyon of the Diamante. One hour after completing the mission a fancy silver pickup passed us on the take-out bridge. We put up our thumbs and although they were pretty confused about what we were doing there, they took us under their wing, gave us some maté1 and cookies and a ride all the way back to Mendoza city. Under the stars we celebrated my 21st birthday and the success of our expedition with a huge jug of Malbec2, barbequed ribs and the great company of the Potrerillos rafting community! Mendoza, geographically known as Northern Patagonia, now has a triple crown!

1. Maté : is a traditional South American caffeine-rich infused drink, that was first consumed by the indigenous Guaraní and also spread by the Tupí people. In the last centuries, it became particularly popular in Argentina and Uruguay (where it is defined by law as the “national infusion”) (soucre:www.wikipedia) 2. Malbec, The most popular wine in Argentina is rich and intense, generally dark ruby red in color, and is the perfect partner for a big, juicy steak – the staple diet in Argentina. (Source:

Photo by Lachie Carracher

Frambuesa Gorge Photo supplied by Sam Ricketts

Photo by Sam Ricketts

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