Order calendars via zakshawphotography@gmail.com or the secure Paypal option below.

Order calendars via zakshawphotography@gmail.com or the secure Paypal option below.
My 2014 calendar was entirely photographed on the western side of New Zealand's Southern Alps. "Land in the West" is printed at a size of A4 with twelve calendar month pages displaying stunning outdoor environment photographs. Take a look at my Facebook page to view all twelve 2014 calendar images! Order here via Paypal or email me at zakshawphotography@gmail.com if you would prefer to pay with online banking. Thanks for your support!
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Zealand's Mighty Mungo/Upper Hokitika

The highlight of the summer thus far would have to be our descent of the Mungo. Completed only once or twice in a busy summer the Mungo is one of NZ's most committing river trips. Any descent after flood (the west coast got hammered by a 50 year flood only a month ago) means kayak teams treat every river trip as a first descent with the expectation of major changes.
Inside Mungo Gorge paddler/climber and bush basher Daan Jimmink contemplates his next move and hopes its the right one.....
Image - Zak Shaw 

In shot Jordy Searle makes a quick getaway allowing Dando to return for the last of our team. 
Location = Southern Alps as far as you can go in the Hokitika catchment.
Image - Zak Shaw

We made good time from our heli drop off point via continuous class four rapids that steepened and progressively got harder. The Mungo River gorge subtly locks you in and before you know it the valley track is nowhere in sight.

Keep your hips loose and roll with it. Jordy Searle agrees it feels best when your boatin.
Mungo Gorge scenic - Zak Shaw

 We committed into the top gorge and eddied out above a massive tree jam that we had spied from the air. Barney and Jordy would have run it onsight but I was interested in knowing if the remainder of the canyon was clean. Daan and I set off on river right with the idea of looking into the gorge downstream. Previous reports told us this would reveal nothing, it sounded like a challenge. Steep thick scrub on the verge of the gorge walls provided good hand and foot holds and we found several large tress with which we could hold onto and lean out from. We managed to see some key lines and eddies, enough to convince us to paddle the log drop. 
Below Daan and Justin Venable share thoughts on how they think it will go....
Image - Zak Shaw
Timber prevented us from charging right and so left it was. Barney was having a strong day out and charged at the left horizon first. All went to plan and 10 min later our five kayaks cautiously began to piece together the next series of must run moves in the canyon. The crux move (which would be possible to portage using ropes and a tag line on river left) involved weaving above a super steep class six slip rapid into a last chance eddy. 
Image - Zak Shaw 
After the portage we scouted within the gorge before running three must run drops. 20ft, 8ft, 6ft before we were free. 
Image below Barney young continues with form that saw him go big American style this winter.
Image - Zak Shaw

Gateway Gorge will always make a hard and fast day slow down. JV immerses himself in some of the best river scenery in the country.
Image - Zak Shaw

Hey thats Jordy Searle from the 2011 whitewater calendars!
Watch this space - Jordy Searle Mungo/ Upper Hokitika 2012 calendar run!
Image - Zak Shaw
Gateway Gorge (best place ever)

Word for anyone interested Frisco canyon is currently clean.  In the past it has held large trees which are generally portaged. (unless your jj or eden) That canyon is far less steep than it used to be.

Sepentine Hut. A safe refuge after six beautiful hours of hard kayaking. 4 bunks, stove and everything else you need for a night comes included. (except your wine and red meat that the helicopter will drop there for you!)
Image - Zak Shaw

The normal day run from Nogo creek out is a fantastic run. On our trip we had a juicy medium river level. This canyon has a low water option of going left. On our run it was to high and we had to sack up and run the falls into the gorge. In shot Barney Young is "givin er"

This says it all. If your kayaking difficult whitewater and making it look good find the best team you can and visit the Upper Hoki! Local beta is invaluable.

until next time - Zak


  1. Anonymous8:51 AM

    Looks awesome... The grass is greener on the other side of the equator right now. Is JV a full time Kiwi now or what? Tell him Taylor from Upper Cherry '06 says "chur."

  2. Anonymous4:57 PM

    Awesome stuff!

  3. Wow, white water are so fantastic! Engaging in this kind of extreme water adventure really needs courage and skill.
    NZ also has other exciting activities. When you get there you can indulge! Car hire is cheap and convenient.