Monday, November 10, 2008

New Zealand rafting

Architect creek swing bridge

Paula and I just returned to Alaska after a 2 month trip out of state. Here are some pictures from some of the highlights. We spent about 3 weeks in California. From California I went to Whistler for a week of avalanche lectures at the International Snow Science Conference, then met up with Paula in New Zealand.

New Zealand was sweet as! Heaps of tramping, packrafting, climbing, fishing, mountains, rivers, and sheep. We had a great time exploring both islands.

More pictures can be found at

Most of these pictures are from a hike up the Copland track. We had no information about it besides one photo from another Alaskan friend. This hike and float was incredible. The trail goes up from the West Coast on the south island through lush rainforest up to high alpine zones. It feels like a bizarre combination of Kauai and Alaska, with a beautiful turquoise river down the middle of the valley. We only hiked as far as the Welcome Flat hut (accomodation for 31 people), soaked in the hot springs and hiked and floated out the following day. The river has a steep canyon section between Architect creek and Welcome Flat that is solid class V or harder. It might be worth a look by an experienced and well prepared group. From our put-in at Architect creek below the canyon we encountered a bouldery, pool-drop character creek. We portaged 3 different rapids sections that looked class 3+. Without proper river clothing and rescue gear we didn’t feel like risking a swim in the harder sections. Scouting and portaging was very easy along the sides. There were no sweepers encountered. We floated about 10 km of river back to the car. This region gets enormous amounts of precip, and the river levels have large and frequent changes. Highly recommended trip for anyone headed down there. We finished off the day with a hike to a beach with penguins.

Copland river

We did more in New Zealand than just raft. Other highlights include: hiking the Kepler track, skiing on Mt. Ruapehu, black water rafting the Waitomo caves, and lots of 5 star tramping.

Kepler Track

Whakapapa Ski Field

Rees River