(the rest of the photos are at my Image Station site)
The weather was beautiful for our first day. We met in Burbury's cafe which has a spectactular view of the lake.
After a lengthy (and tasty) breakfast, we headed off to the Waikato river for our first lessons.
The boats we were using were short white water boats - quite different from the multisport boats or sea kayaks that we were used to paddling.
The first lessons were about brace strokes, how to keep the boat moving straight (with our eyes closed even!) and how to turn. Perhaps the hardest part was keeping the boat going straight - they're so short that they just want to spin around in a circle.
After that, we moved further up the river (by car) to try our hand at eddies.
Sam shows us the technique of getting out of an eddy: paddle up into the flow, and then lean into the turn.
It's harder than it looks, and several of us had a swim!
Well, I should make the distinction between "tipping over" and "having a swim". If we tipped over (which was quite often) we were meant to wait, and count to 10, with our head down against the deck. Or rather, up against the deck, because we would be upside down underwater... The instructors would then paddle over to us and flip us up the right way again. Or that was the theory. If we panicked, or the instructor was too slow (didn't happen), we could pull the tag on the spray skirt, and then swim out. That was much more inconvenient because then we'd need to swim our kayak to the shore, tip the water out, and get back in. That would usually take at least 10 mintes - during which time, everyone else was waiting.
Sue making it look easy.
George getting it right.
Jules watching patiently. She's an expert slalom kayaker from Germany - and this must have seemed like childs play.
We eddy-hopped down the river for a while, then stopped near Cherry Island (I think that's right) for a snack.
After that, we continued down the river - using each eddy to practice moving in and out of the main flow. Apparently this skill is very important once the river gets bigger, but right now it seems a little weird. However, that didn't stop us falling out - even though the water hardly seems to be moving!
A brief pause to watch a bungee jumper...
A much longer pause at a hotspring. The waterfall was about the temperature of a hot shower. Lovely!
Jules doesn't need to get out of her boat to enjoy the hot water. ;-)
After the warm water, and lots of paddling, we were all pretty relaxed.
There was one more challenge to do before we finished the day. To paddle upstream up a rapid.
It wasn't always as easy as it seemed...
But eventually we got to the top.
What a great day.