New Zealand - Mountain Buzz

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Old 10-08-2008   #1
Ward, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 21
New Zealand

Headed to New Zealand in January, and would like to Kayak. I'm solid up to class III+, paddling two seasons now. Given the time constraints (a week or two) I'm thinking that having a guide might be a better option to progress up to harder rivers in a short time. I'm looking at the Tasman and West Coast regions of the South Island and would really like to get on the easier section of the Hokitika and/or similar.

My question, does anyone have any experience with any guides down there and do they have any recommendations? I have found only a few places in my internet searches that rent boat and guide. I had one recommendation, though it turns out they are no longer in business.

thanks, joel

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Old 10-08-2008   #2
Jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1492
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 286

Try this: New Zealand Kayak School - kayaking courses in nz: - Hi there! Mick Hopkinson, the owner, is my neighbor and regular paddling partner when he's here in Jackson Hole. you won't find better info or instruction in NZ. You wanna get to be a better, solid paddler fast, it's worth some time in their school and just paddling with their people. Tell Mick Jon from Rafter-J gave you his name and website. Mick has been running Class V all over the world for 35 yrs. I spent 6 months paddling down there a lonnnnggg time ago, and things have changed since then. Lots more helicoptor trips, Hokitika is now known all over the world, etc.
So many rivers, so little time..........
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Old 10-08-2008   #3
Cisco, Utah
Paddling Since: Dawn
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 351
Go to Murchison. Easy to hook up with kayakers there, class III runs and not to far from some spectacular West Coast Heli kayaking
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Old 10-08-2008   #4
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 4
The mighty Bueller River on the West Coast of the South Island is another great trip. Did a one-day guided trip down there 5 or so years ago and had a superb time. Trips ranging from Class III-V. I forget the outfitter, but a google search should produce something. Additionally there are a couple of huge bridges to jump off into the Bueller. One about 18meters and another a solid 25 meters. A definite 10 on the pucker factor. Good luck down there it is an amazing country with amazing people!
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Old 10-09-2008   #5
Ft Collins, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 213
NZ is great! Get the guidebook and head for Murchison. But do note that the guide is has a 'New Zealand attitude'. In the US, most runs are rated a 4 if it's mostly cl 3 with a few 4s. But in NZ, a river rated a 3 may have a few 4s and a note that you can carry a few rapids if you want.

Boaters converge in Murchison over the Christmas break so very easy to hook up, but make reservations now if you want anything other than to tent in the campground. It rains a lot in the area and it's nice to have a roof over your head to dry things out. Rent kayaks from Mick's shop - we reserved in advance and he was totally dependable.

have a great trip!
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Old 10-12-2008   #6
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SE, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,099
The Buller is a good choice if you want to do a lot of runs without complicated logistics. It's one of the largest/longest rivers in NZ, can be accessed at many points by road, and has a variety of runs from tranquil floats through native bush to raging drops.

It also has lots of tributaries: the Gowan, Mangles, Blackwater, Matiri, Matakitaki, Maruia, Inangahua, Waitahu, and Ohikanui Rivers all have runs of one sort or other, some leading into the main river.

January can be pretty busy so it pays to book in advance for the earlier part of your trip, and then shop around once you're there.

For some unusual paddling and great birding on the West Coast, Okarito Lagoon is a big tidal water fed by a series of clear creeks that enter through glacial moraines— some gorgeous native bush with rimu and kahikatea (NZ white pine). Time your trips with the tides or you can end up slogging. It's definitely the wop-wops— no store or pub there as I recall. There used to be a couple backpackers (low-cost BYOFB&B) and a 'yak rental and guide service.

Westland's a great spot for boaters— have fun.

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Old 10-12-2008   #7
Cisco, Utah
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Also check out the forums here
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Old 10-12-2008   #8
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SE, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,099
Mäori names

The Mäori names can be a boggle at first. But to know what they mean is a way of remembering: Inanga = whitebait (baby fish), hua = sundried (the river was known for big catches of hatchling fish, a delicacy).

Or Matakitaki = to gaze upon. When the Mäori first explored these islands, they bestowed this name on particularly beautiful or interesting spots.

There's a cool little book, A Dictionary of Maori Place Names by A. W. Reed, that'll help sort things out. I found a used copy at

anyhow, kia ora & waimarie

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