Beat the Heat: Do the Donald River Drift!
On what was to be the hottest day ever recorded in Napier, a group of six took off at 7 am in two cars from the HTC departure lounge in Te Aute Road. Peter and Colin were the doing the “B” plan down the Tutaekuri Gorge. Anne, Glenda, Daniel and Janice opted for the “A” plan which was a loop from the Lawrence Road End, over the swing bridge, up the trail towards Mackintosh Hut, before cutting down the Donald River, and back to the bridge on the Tutaekuri.
The wind was raging on the ridges as we started but it always seemed to be above us especially when we were walking along the river. Glenda was right, it was a great day to be criss-crossing the Donald. Spotting the first of many inviting deep pools, it was in ‘boots and all’ drifting down the current” back to the start and drifting down again. What a refreshing way to beat the heat! It was hard to keep Glenda out of any of the pools after that and you had to admit it was a great way to cool down especially before the long drag back up to the cars at the Lawrence Road end. The crystal clear, fast-flowing water did the trick for any ailments.
Coming across a small eddy, we saw a tadpole convention in the shallow water. Amongst the teeming tadpoles were a few small green frogs on the fringe and cameras were whipped out to record the moment.
The sides of the canyons were covered in plants as they soared straight up to the tree-line. At the Donald/Tutaekuri river junction, we travelled up river to see if we could spot Colin and Peter trying to prove they were just as quick as last time they did this trip 30 years ago. The only people we saw in our 5 ½ hour sojourn were a father and son carrying fishing poles. They had spent the night being blown out by the wicked winds near the ridges and had dropped down to escape.
We turned around towards the swing bridge and the parked cars up the hill. It was a fair climb back up the road. Janice found another gear and motored up the road with Daniel. Good weather, amazing scenery, great photos by Anne, strenuous at times/cruisy at others, brilliant company: just another day at the HTC office!
DH: Party: Daniel H, Janice L, Anne D, Glenda H
Colin and I set of at 8.30 and it was straight into the water, with plenty of slots and pools to cool us down. Fortunately we had picked the right day for it so we were merely cold, rather than the standard for the trip which is, bloody freezing. It is a very beautiful stretch of river, a true gorge trip and you do spend a lot of time in the water.
Eventually we got down to the two waterfalls, the first was exciting, but no real problem, but the second was just plain scary, in the finish we just jumped off on the true right hand side (never jump or swim into the white water at the base of a waterfall as the bubbles make the water less dense and you sink), Colin suggested that it was a pity that he hadn’t had his camera ready, but I was not about to climb up for a second go. After one more rapid we then came to the hot spring, which was a good temperature and flow, but is just as insalubrious as ever. We continued on down the river which was very greasy and my pack became heavier and heavier as it picked up more water, the last stretch was easier except that the others had decided to leave the car at the top , which we finally reached at 4pm.
PB: Party: Colin J and Peter B