Kawakawa - Waitangi (Northland)
Not really a serious paddle but it was new water for me, and something different from the usual beats around the local coast.
Start at the original road bridge at the northern end of the Three Sisters at Kawakawa. Note that the water level at NRC Waiharakeke monitoring station needs to ideally be around 75cm to 1m to do this run. https://hilltop.gurudigital.nz/Chart/In ... 20Stations The general flows weren't fast but the river is at times shallow and wiggly at the start with a few willows on the outside of some bends to grab you if you go too wide in the current with insufficient depth to paddle. Several underwater remnants at erosion control have left boulders in odd places and multiple rills make this a gelcoat hostile environment. Plastics (eg Barracudas) will be okay if you read the river. These bumpy bits all disappear after a couple of km or so downstream as the river profile opens up and out into the flats.
One note at this time of year, expect to meet a Black Swan (or several) with associated teenage pillow-sized cygnets. Mum and Dad chose to lure me downstream away from the kids rather than being stroppy (phew). However it was unnerving to see a swan barrelling up a straight section of river out of the mist at head height like a Lancaster bomber on it's attack run.... They're Biiiig birds up close! I lifted the paddle and made 'big' forcing it to veer up and over, close enough to get the down draught though.
That was the limit of upstream wildlife other than swallows rocketing past me and many curious dribbling cows watching as I passed.
Time to Taumarere Road bridge: 35min from start
I launched at HT +2.5Hrs (biggish tides), below Taumarere it was evident that every other time I've paddled this bit it was high tide. What were previously channels had become blind bays and the channel I thought I was following came very close to a slurp through the ooze to find the rapidly retreating water. As you reach the large island below Derrick Landing, keep the island to your right and go straight across to the other side of the channel. Trying to keep to the left beside the cycleway, past the large dead tree in the water will give you ample opportunity to watch the silt go by with random outcrops of oysters just below the surface...!
You also want to have the substantial mid-river maimai on your left as you go past for the same silty, oystery reason.
At the final bend, where you get to see Opua and pass under the over head powerlines, again swing wide on the bend and favour the RHS of the channel. There's a reef and associated silt bank that comes out quite a way on your left.
After all this excitement, it's normal paddling business from here on.
Time to Opua 1:30Hr from start
I pulled the pin at Waitangi as I'd been redlining it to try and get out of the estuary while I still had water under me so the tank was running low, the sight of rollers on Brampton Reef to the north sealed the deal, and this was the first decent training paddle for the summer Ratruns after all...
Time to Waitangi 2:30Hr from start
Recommend this fun downstream trip, even as far as Opua is very doable and a neat trundle. I would launch at High Tide +1Hr next time, HT +3Hr would likely result in a mudfest. Best part is no traffic noise and you're tucked away below the banks, just enjoying the moment.
You'll start at the original North Road, pass under SH11 and under the longest curved wooden rail bridge in the Southern Hemisphere, pass the site of the original scow dock which was the hub of the district during the coal boom, before the whole town was relocated to where Kawakawa is today. And maybe see a black swan up close....
Opua store does very decent coffee, and a large mocha comes with a choccy fish. Ideal way to finish the trip.
Shuttle Bunny to drop and collect is necessary though (Plenty to do in Paihia while they wait).
Discussion here that is specific to SiKs and catching/processing fish without (hopefully) joining them...
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- Hairy Little Dwarf
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