The ‘Bad’ Gorge
5 to 7 March 2019
Tubing the Waiohine Gorge was top of Paul’s to do list. The only section of the Waiohine he hadn’t done was Mid Waiohine Hut to Hector Forks. The forecast was good, the river was low, and we were all semi- available for a mid-week adventure. I rearranged work and childcare, Harry postponed his dentist, and Paul went shopping for dry bags and tubes. Game on!
We were dripping by the time we got to the Powell building site and the builders let us through the barriers to use the hut’s water. What a treat to be on the tops without a breath of wind. Afternoon tea was on Isabelle, lying in the tussock, luxuriating in the warmth, views and conversation.
At Mid Waiohine Hut we washed off the day’s sweat and sunblock with a swim. The evening was spent pumping. We slept with the hut doors and windows wide open.
At 8 am we wandered down to the swing bridge and launched the armada. So much fun! Bumping over the rocks, cruising little rapids, paddling through the quieter, deeper pools. The first hour was glorious. Pools of intense blue-green, alternating with faster sections.
You don’t have much control on a tube and the river takes you where it wants to. We got a bit complacent, the river got steeper and we had a scary incident. I cruised over a waterfall – maybe a metre high, and fell off my tube. It would have been fine except for the whirlpool I couldn’t get out of. Harry tumbled down behind me. He tried to push me out of the whirlpool and my head was submerged for longer than I wanted it to be.
Eventually Paul relinquished his camera and came round the back to drag me up the sheer, slippery rock. Harry was tall and strong enough to push himself out. After that we were careful to get out of the river and check what was in front of us and we walked a lot more.
The sun was trying hard and we got moments of brightness – we were pretty cold. The tail wind was helpful in the slow pools, but chilling. Next up was ‘bad gorge’ – named as such on an early map. Belying the ominous name this is a beautiful and peaceful section. The trees meet 30 meters overhead above for some of it. The steep sides are moss covered and riverlets run down them.
When we got to the end of ‘bad gorge’ Paul relaxed – he was in known country and we were on the home stretch. From Hector Forks it was plain sailing, if a little bruising to the coccyx.
Paul raced ahead to get onto the swing bridge to film Harry. He made it just in time but rushed on to face the only tramper to cross the bridge all day, coming the other way! No footage there. Nine hours hut to hut.
A relaxing evening in Totara Flats Hut chatting to a friendly fisherman and a wander back to the car the next morning completed a wonderful trip. SW
Video at https://vimeo.com/322551061(approve sites)
- Party members
- Paul McCredie, Harry (tongue & meat) Smith, Sarah White (scribe).