Well the spring season has been awesome down here on the West Coast of New Zealand, with the wettest Sept/Oct period I can remember and all the little local gems flowing almost constantly the whole time. It has taken some adjusting to not have the usual partner in crime, Barny the Bull-Dog, on the coast but I have been getting on the river as much if not more anyway. Countless laps of the Crooked, Upper Kakapotahi, Styx, Toaroha and even 5 laps of the Totara has kept me pretty busy but all were really just working towards the 'heli-season'.
As mentioned, we've had a lot of rain so accessing the upper reaches of the catchments hasnt really been possible until the last couple of week's. That said, the sun is here and it is time to fly! Last week all the stars algined with Ari arriving back from Mongolia, the weather was good and the Whitcombe had dropped down to a good medium level. To make up our crew we invited along Taylor Weston, a 2nd year polytech student who has been on the majority on my trips this spring and who was amping for his first heli. Yeah FIRST heli trip, not the typical first heli for most people but with it being the start of the season I figured I knew it well enough and we could take it nice and slow. Apart from a shakey start, sketch little swim on Taylors behalf, we had a truely classic trip down the whitcombe with amazing weather, plenty of changes to keep us guessing and hours of sunlight to chill at the hut!
Who's first heli-trip...
Pat the shuttle driver... he's got our back!
Couldn't bring myself to drop into 'Masty's Slot'... maybe next time
Day two was also stunning but the inner section of Prices Gorge is still a bit dodgey, well really dodgey so we did a short 10minutes portage on river right and that was the only thing to walk in 5 hours a paddling.