Have you ever spent a laborious few days tramping down a river, gazing longingly at the water, wishing you could just float out? Or spent a few hours walking around a lake when you could have just paddled across? After Oscar mentioned some basic details about packrafting to me, I was sold. And – in typical Dulkara fashion – I bought my first one before I’d even tried it.

Ready to go! 

A packraft is a durable one-person inflatable boat, designed for use in the backcountry. Most commonly it’s a way to combine whitewater (or leisurely flat-water trips) with tramping. But trip options are endless – you can partly dismantle and attach a mountain bike to the front of the raft, use it as an alternative to transport meat home from a hunting trip, or just for pure practicality as a toy during international travel. It’s easy to set-up and manoeuvre on the water,  packs down to the size of a small tent and weighs a mere 2.2kg. 

I’ve been drooling over many topo maps, planning some epic multi-day, multi-discipline trips in the South Island. Will save those for longer holidays and when I can find some other packrafters in NZ. For now,  my new local area isn’t too bad…

This run is, almost literally, on my doorstep:

Wanganui River

With itchy feet for a mission, after lunch yesterday I packed my bag and hitched a ride to the bridge over the Wanganui River, exactly 5km from my front door.

Meandering my way up the Wanganui River (not to be confused with the Whanganui in the North Island), the trail was varied: bush sections lined with rimu and tangling vines, towering cliffs where the trail has been washed away in huge rains, boulder-hopping and in true West Coast fashion…some mud. This took me to my chosen put in, just past Henderson Creek, a few bends upstream from hot pool flats. Yep – this river even boasts natural hot pools, in three different places!

The section I paddled is all scoutable on the way up and boulder gardens provide some fun lines without much consequence.  I’ll explore further upstream another time, but this bottom section was technical enough for my first solo trip and provided some spectacular scenery. I’m hooked – and stoked with my new backyard. Looking forward to seeing what other missions I can fit into just another Saturday afternoon from Harihari!

Until next time,

Ducky

“Life is like a river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere” – Emma Smith

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