Mokau Trip report
Report by Erik (Captain Alaska)
While pounding back beers and inventing a new form of boat race (CJ got owned) at Speedy’s birthday a few canoe clubber’s decided to head south for some white-water action.
James, Ladja, Isaac, and Erik used Lada’s high-tech equipment—in a car that is far too nice to be a legit AUCC paddle wagon—to navigate to the hinterlands of Papakura and secure our final safety accessory: Martin. On the way south to the Mokau we stopped in Otorohanga for food. While James and Erik hit up the bakery Ladja claimed he was going for Subway, but mysteriously returned with Mickey-D’s... Czechs...
Finally reaching the river sometime around noon, the crew discovered a pumping river flowing much higher than normal. The quasi-flood conditions meant that all the boring grade II stuff turned into wave chains and pure fun. It also meat that all the dead cows got washed downstream so Erik was not able to realize his dream of riding a dead cow down the river.
Waterfall above powerstation (noone paddled it)
James ran the first drop left, checked out the rapid for the rest of us, and called for a river-right line. Admittedly more fun, this line had a greater drop, which sent Ladja for a swim (His first swim in NZ water!- Ed.).
The first real scouting was done for Little Hooker [sic] (Ed notes that the crew minus Ladja, ran Little Huka like the waterfall- not a midget that sleeps with people for money). Little Hooker was flowing so high that the first drop had washed out. This meant the rapid was pushier and harder to get to the line, but once you were there it was sweet. And that we were, styling the rapid one after another. More white-water ecstasy ensured until we reached Little Aratiatia.
Upon scouting, this beefy rapid which was graded at class IV, looked pumping. It contained both a massive, man-eating hole on river left and multiple nasty sieves on river right. We sent Isaac out as a test-dummy to try it out.
His face looked intense as he styled the centre line making it look too-easy. Confidence in our chances of surviving rose and the rest of us ran it in quick succession. As Erik was concentrating too much on the rapid, he managed to get flipped by the eddy line 15meters ahead of it, but a quick roll ensued and (luckily) things went off smoothly. The monstrous looking rapid actually ran like a smooth grade III (as long as you were on the right line).
The bottom section of the river held some cool limestone formations resembling karst topography. After passing out of the monotonous farmland, the river-side scenery greatly improved with lush tree-fern forests enveloping the river. As the crew pulled off, just after 4pm, they agreed it had been a fantastic day and that paddling the Mokau in high water was a real treat.