Sarah and I spent two weeks in New Zealand, Nov/Dec 2018, conveniently timed to coordinate with Shasta Hood and Mackenzie Slater’s honeymoon! We used Murchison as our hub (northern part of the south island), and never made it more than a few hours from there.
We finished the trip with a ride from Anchorage friends Caroline Van Hemert and Pat Farrell. Check out Caroline’s upcoming book about their human-powered trip from Bellingham to Kotzebue, The Sun is a Compass.
Murchison is a whitewater hub in New Zealand because of easy access to four excellent rivers. We spent a lot of time on the Buller, due to its clear water and quality rapids.
The Matakitaki offered a a few fun boulder gardens, a perfect playground to try Alpacka’s prototype whitewater boat (the wolverine?).
Closer to Nelson, the Pelorus River was recommended by Dulkara Martig, and photos by Oscar Manguy sealed the deal. The Pelorus was a perfect overnight option, a hard 6.5 hour hike, followed by 20 miles in some of the clearest water I’ve seen.
We had hoped for another overnight packrafting trip, to the Waiau, but got slammed with bad weather. We spend 4 hours taking turns sitting upright in the tents to keep them from flattening in the wind. When the weather ‘broke,’ we raced off our ridge to a hut, fought to get a coal fire going, and then lounged in the hut through another 24 hours of near constant rain. Low on food and concerned about what high water would look like on the Waiau, we turned back for the trailhead. Our car had a friendly note from the police, who were concerned about hikers getting caught in the bad weather. I checked in with the police in Hanmer, which was conveniently located across the street from an awesome hot springs water park.
Old Ghost Road
We rented mountain bikes for a 3-day, 80-km ride on the Old Ghost Road. The scenery was excellent, both the trail and huts are new and in great shape.