Thursday May 14th, the first day New Zealanders were allowed to venture from their bubbles and get a taste of what normal outings are like post the COVID lockdowns.
On Tuesday I had received a call from Paul Mullens of the JBNZ Canterbury branch looking to organise a run up the Waimakariri River to not only enjoy one of the best runs in the country and scratch that itch after 5 weeks of the boats being parked up. But also to practise how group outings would have to work with things like sign in sheets and contact details being taken before heading off, to make sure we were all accounted for in case there was any chance of the virus being spread between us.
A good 10 boats met up at Rubicon, where the Alpine Jet Thrill headquarters is, an amazing spot with some awesome things going on. There is a nice plateau overlooking the river on which construction of a Jet Boat Museum is being built. This will be a pretty special place once finished, housing some of the first jet boats to be on the NZ rivers and some pretty awesome history for this part of the world. Along with an impressive location to host events in a part of Canterbury that not a lot of people get to see.
After a briefing and quick bit of socialising, we headed up stream on a beautifully blue river flowing at just under 100m3/s. Few Clouds, Blue sky and warm sun meant there was not too much to complain about after being locked inside for the last few weeks. I had spent very little time this far up the Waimak considering how much time I had spent boating the lower half. All the Racing finishes at the Gorge bridge about 15km downstream so boating what is called the ‘true gorge’ is something I recommend to jetboaters that haven’t been.
30 minutes upstream we stopped at Walkers Pool for lunch and checked out the hut hidden in behind the beech trees. After the traditional chinwags that are mandatory on any jet boat outing it was time for Stacey & I to head back down stream and get back to do some work, so we decided to pick up the pace and sat on 60mph most of the way back. The Attack Marine hull with the 300hp Kawasaki engine seems to love a bit of speed, handling a couple of rapid sections smoothly, before being loaded back on the trailer.
It’s awesome boating in the Gorge, nice and easy if you are not the most experienced boater with little chance of running aground. Just keep an eye out for rocks and the rapid sections are nothing major. Make sure to stop off at Emerald Pool for a photo and walkers pool is nice and sheltered if the wind is coming down the valley. If you don’t have a boat take a look at Alpine Jet thrills which have tours going all the way up to Esk Pool (about a 2 hour round trip).