What It Is Like To Be a Professional Kayaker?
South Island - paddling The Nevis River & Fiordland
I flew mid November straight into Queenstown, where I met up with Dylan, JV, Shannon, Willz and Brendan. We paddled the Nevis River near Queenstown which is still one of my favorites, just super continuous, lots of fun and technical moves, good drops, good water, steep and really long. Such a good run with nice weather and good friends to show me the lines.
After that we drove south to Fiordland to explore some unpadded rivers and waterfalls. The scenery over there is amazing, and however we didn't get to paddle much we got to see some amazing places. After a few days hanging out south, we drove back up to Queenstown/Wanaka for a few more laps on the super fun Nevis. It was already lower but still really nice. After that, we drove to Christchurch and flew to the North Island.
Right now, I'm living in Okere Falls where I work and kayak everyday on the Kaituna. Warm water, amazing canyons and scenery, great friends and people to paddle with and super fun white water, overall a great place to spend the summer. Super happy to be here and having lots of fun just hanging out and paddling daily.
Okere Falls - The Kaituna River
Being based in Okere Falls at the banks of the Kaituna for the summer is awesome. Amazingly beautiful location, super good folks to paddle with and an amazing local run to lap and lap every day. Besides surf within 20 minutes drive and amazing mountain bike trails in Rotorua. Time's been flying between laps on the Kaituna and Wairoa, some surf trips to Gisborne and the East Cape, Waihi… and of course some work too!
Lots of events happened on the river this season already, first of was the 6 hours Enduro team race which I had to miss due an injury on my ribs while kayaking another river early December. Next up was the Xmas Kaituna event held just before Christmas; progressive BoaterX with 4 different courses while going down the river, 8Ball race, beach ball team race and blow up toys float. This was a super fun event and I was stoked to be back in my boat after a few weeks off due injury and really happy after taking the BoaterX and the 8Ball race with some lucky rounds! The swim/float down the river with another 30 persons was sick! Cheers Brendan and Lou for organizing it!!
On Jan 11, we had the Andy Duff Memorial, where you get to race down the river in play boats, creek boats, tandem, swimming and rafting. It was a super fun afternoon and very exhausting, specially the swimming, but really cool. Thanks Douglas for organizing that year after year! A week after that was the Okere Falls Champions a multi sport race organized by Jamie Sutton. You start sprinting to your bike and biking for a couple k's around the lake, then running a bit and swimming on the lake and down the slalom course, after that you jump on your kayak felling dizzy and with no power at all and try to make it down the river as fast as possible, carry your boat up a bit and run up the road to the Okere Falls Store where you have to skull a beer, which after doing all that is probably the last thing you want to do… Anyway a really fun race which includes 4 different sports and takes about 30 minutes of going all out. Mad props to Tim for crushing everyone on that one! Ben Robson was second and I was happy with third place!
Next up was the first round of the NZ Extreme Racing Series, with the Kaituna Time Trial and the Wairoa Extreme Race. The Kaituna's been really low for the last couple weeks, at about low 200's, so the race was really physical with some nice and long flat stretches but still fun and fast rapids. Mike killed the time trial with a 7'16" and I was third after local legend Kenny Mutton. We also raced long boats and after a nice lap with the Hurricane I got first place which I was stoked about! We finished the afternoon with a three-person team relay that was really fun as well!
On Sunday we had the Wairoa race with a 5 minutes time trial to start with and a head2head down the 'Roller coaster' rapid. I managed to get second on the time trial behind Mike who again did a great time trial run but unfortunately, I got knocked out on the earlier rounds. Overall a great weekend that wouldn't have been possible without the time and effort of Brendan, Lou and Tyler, thanks guys!!
All and all summer's been great so far, lots of good kayaking with friends and having fun on the water, the best way to get ready for next spring! I just want to thank everyone in Okere Falls for being one of the best/coolest kayaking communities out there and helping us out with everything! Super happy and stoked to have made it this way for the winter and hopefully I can come back next year!
All images are courtesy of Gerd Serrasolses; Copyrights applied.