Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Huge Changes to Upper Hokitika River

I haven't written on this blog for 3 years now.  I thought I'd help my fellow paddlers out in seeing the change in the rivers of the West Coast of New Zealand. Last year was the first time I went into the Upper Hokitika and loved the run and it's committing nature. This year I returned and was amazed at the changes in each of the gorges. Some of them being formidable! See below as I'll offer some comparison photo's:

Gorge #1 (just after Viagra Falls):

      Looking Upstream
Then (via Redbull Flowhunters)

Now as of Jan, 2016
           Looking Downstream you see the cause, large new slip

What it used to look like

Now there's a new rapid and boulder's damming the river

Gorge #2
          The crew last year

This year... note the giant monolith now in the river (dams it a bit)

Gorge #3

I don't have an old shot I could find of this one for comparison, but I will say this. You used to be able to walk down the left side because it was dry. Now you're stuck with something with much more risky

In Summary:
While I could go into great detail as to how we made it into and through each of these gorges, it really would defeat the purpose of this post. By the time someone else drops into the Upper Hokitika river again... these gorges will likely have already changed. Some for better, other's for worse. The beauty and challenge of kayaking the West Coast of New Zealand is that you must treat every one as if it is a first descent... and in some ways you do get to have your own personal first descent. The river will continue to change from year to year. And we'll again get to admire the living river and the changing earth.