I am of a generation that, at mention of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, I recall images of intense conflict, thankfully long past. The images now are of jungle, peaceful villages nestled among ancient civilizations, and rivers; kayaks instead of gunboats. The coincidence between geology and river in Southern Laos (LDR) has created an area known as 4000 Islands. Here, Mekong River changes from a single channel to multiple braids that thunder across a spectacular array of waterfalls and rapids; a white-water kayaker’s idea of fun. Sam Ricketts, his friend Lachie Carracher, and a film crew (Luke McKinney and Lissa Hufford), converged, in December 2016, on Don Det, an island-town in the middle of 4000 Islands; their focus – Li Phi Falls. Continue reading
Pucon is a tourist destination, nestled between rugged hills and Largo (Lake) Villarrica in central Patagonia, Chile. One of its attractions is rivers with a bit of everything for kayakers and rafters, from Class V to Class II rapids and waterfalls, through bush and steep gorges. Idyllic? Normally yes, except that the most active volcano in Chile is right on your doorstep – in fact at times it’s in your living room. Continue reading
Kawarau River – Rocks that have gone full circle
Kawarau River; kayaking and rafting mecca, water crystal-clear, torrents and gnarly rock faces. The river, incised into schist, Otago Schist, is a drawcard for whitewater junkies looking for challenging rapids (classes 2 to 5+). It has a bit of everything, apart from the whitewater – stunning, rugged hill country, easy access and proximity to Queenstown. Competitions, especially the Citroën attract local and international competitor. And for an added bonus, the region is also home to some of the world’s best Pinot Noir. Continue reading
Huka Falls, New Zealand
Huka Falls, tourist attraction and Class V+ drop, is either a kayaker’s nightmare or their delight. The falls themselves are not technically difficult but with an average 160 cumecs tumbling through a 15m gap, they are a bit daunting. Huka Falls is the first major cataract on Waikato River, about 8 km downstream of its headwaters (Lake Taupo ). Flow is controlled by flood gates near Taupo township. Most kayaking is done in flows of 50-150 cumecs,, but anything over 130 cumecs is a bit gnarly. The tourist viewing platform and bridge are close to the top of the falls. So any kayaker venturing through nearly always has an audience.
#1 Kaituna River, New Zealand
Kaituna River is a glorious water-course that has a bit of everything for kayakers and rafters, from beginner Class 1 and 2 rapids to serious class 5 waterfalls. It is probably one of the more popular kayaking and rafting rivers in North Island, New Zealand, in part because it is so easy to get to, and close to the Rotorua centre of tourism.
The Kaituna is an outflow of Lake Rotoiti, its headwaters next to the Highway at Okere Falls (just down the Road from Okere Falls Café); it exits at the coast in Bay of Plenty.