In January whilst visiting New Zealand I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days on the Kaituna River. The Kaituna river is the outflow from lakes Rotorua and Rotoiti in the Bay of Plenty region on the North Island of New Zealand and is a definite bucket list river for most kayakers. The river features some pretty cool little rapids as well as Tutea falls which is said to be 7m tall but in my opinion is a lot less. But such a rad drop anyway….you know what they say….size doesn’t matter ha ha !
Before I could hit the river I need to get my hands on a boat. Thankfully RAWHero Jason Bishop (@NEEDSURF) was kind enough to lend me his Liquid Logic Flying Squirrel, the catch, I was driving a Honda Fit ! Luckily the amazing people I was staying with had these cool roof rack pads that they used for their SUPs so with that in hand off I went to collect the boat. Turns out I stop to ask directions without knowing right outside Ben Brown’s house. His mate was really helpful but Ben pretty much ignored me and just got on with what he was doing. Turns out the boat was almost next door. So I loaded it up and set off for my first day on the Kaituna !
For my first run down the river I met up with Rob Collister. Rob is an extremely talented kayaker that has been working this section of the river for a few season and as such there was absolutely nobody better to show me the lines. That first run went very smoothly and I managed to nail all the lines and not look like too much of a rookie.
The next day feeling full of confidence I decided to go for a few solo laps. Solo is a big word, there are always other paddlers around. All was going well until I reached the lip of Tutea falls and as I took my boof stroke………NOTHING ! My paddle blade snapped clean off ! Somehow I managed to still land the drop upright but then had to paddle with only one blade to the takeout. My fault really for using a a carbon split paddle that I had repaired myself but it was easier than travelling with my AT2 Flexi. I thought my paddling in New Zealand was over but luckily I managed to borrow a paddle from a really nice guy called Luke who guides for one of the raft companies. Thanks Luke ! Check out the video below of the paddle breaking….
From there things got really interesting ! I met up with fellow Dirt Bag Paddlers Admin and subsequent RAWHero Mike McVey who also introduced me to his buddy Stewart Dempsey. The three of us spent the day running laps and just having a jolly on this awesome piece of river. Mike also convinced us to run the entire top section including Tutea falls on river boards which was interesting to say the least. Anyway..action speaks louder than word so check out the next two videos and the photos below to see what we got up to….
The last thing I want to say about my time on the Kaituna is to mention and give a very special thank you to a very special family that showed me kindness and hospitality like I have never experienced before. A family that went out of their way to help me get on the river and made me feel so at home. The world needs more people like you. So to the Samuels family again, from the bottom of my heart, Thank you for everything. My time with you guys was life changing.
Also special Thanks to my buddy Shane Peel, all the music in the videos above is his own original work and he was kind enough to let me use it. You can check out his Sound Cloud here
Anyway that’s all from me for now until next time !