Mary Ann Returns to Raft the Upper Waiau River

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

It had been 5 years since Mary Ann and friends did the Clarence River rafting tour with Hidden Valleys but it didn’t take long for all the memories and the laughs of this rafting trip to come flooding back, and rafting guide Southy knew he was in for another memorable rafting journey on the Upper Waiau River with Mary Ann and her friends.

For their multi-day Upper Waiau River rafting tour Mary Ann and 13 friends hiked in over the Ada

Pass, which is part of the St James Walkway. They spent two nights and three days on the beautiful St James Range before meeting at a pre-arranged point on the banks of the Waiau River downstream of the Ada Flats, above the confluence of the Henry River.

Hidden Valleys rafting guides Al Moore, Sam Jones, Maddy Smith and Southy drove in with their shuttle driver, the knowledgeable and enthusiastic Andrew Ferguson of St James Journeys, over Malings Pass from the headwaters of the Clarence Valleys. The day was stunning with no wind, which was lucky because Southy and the guides were off down the river with a boat each, all the rafting and camping equipment and no paddlers! The river was very low and so a number of awesome fish were spotted. After approximately three hours they met up with Mary Ann and her hiking friends. With headwinds building and a lot of gear to sort the decision was made to camp the night where they met, as it was quite a nice spot.

The next day they packed up and were on the river by 10 am and man did they have their work cut out, as it was very technical rafting. It really wasn’t the place for a heavy gear boat like the one Southy was trying to get down the river, but he did a great job as usual. The paddleboats showed some good skills but as the going was slow they stopped for the night on a high terrace a little way before The Narrows, which is a well-known gorge on the Upper Waiau River.

The Narrows - Waiau River

Exciting whitewater rafting The Narrows on the Upper Waiau River

It was an earlier start to the second day and they were on the river by 8.30am heading for the whitewater rapids of The Narrows. First through was Southy in the gear boat, not a pretty sight, but through nonetheless. The paddleboats made a nice job of getting through! After The Narrows the rafters were treated to more stunning scenery and great rafting which was a good reminder of what a quality rafting trip the Upper Waiau River is. By the time they met Andrew at the Hope River confluence the weather had clouded over. A couple of drivers headed out with Andrew to get the vehicles while everyone else carried on downstream for an hour, and at times in very heavy rain.

All in all it was a great trip with awesome people. Everyone felt they had experienced something special on this river rafting journey with many finding it hard to describe the beauty of the area.

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