There will be no access to the Upper Kakapotahi and Lower Kakapotahi from New Year's until at least the start of April 2013. The owners of the Mikonui Forest have notified Whitewater NZ via Andy England, that the forest will be logged at this time.
Genesis Energy have advised that due to low flows the Whakapapa recreational release scheduled for this Saturday (22nd September 2012) has been cancelled due to low flows. As no rain is forecast over the weekend, the decision has also been made to cancel the back-up day of Sunday 23rd September.
Whitewater NZ President Polly Miller has released the associations' Annual Report for 2012, commenting "It’s been another busy year for kayaking and for river conservation. Highlights from the year include the decision by Meridian Energy to withdraw their application to dam the Mokihinui on the West Coast, and continued efforts in Canterbury and further afield to protect our precious whitewater. Developments within the Association have meant a new look for rivers.org.nz and a new on line membership system – both enormous projects finally coming to completion due to hundreds of volunteer hours."
Counter to the trend of recent cancellations of hydro projects, Westpower has reactivated plans to develop hydro on the Waitaha River. The scheme was first announced in 2007. WestPower is holding public information days: 3.30 - 7.30pm, Tuesday 12th June, Harihari Motor Inn, Main Road, Harihari. 3.30 - 7.30pm, Wednesday 13th June, St John Station, 134 Stafford Street, Hokitika.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr. Jan Wright has issued a report "Hydroelectricity or wild rivers? Climate change versus natural heritage" (PDF, 5MB) highlighting the weaknesses of the current options for preserving wild and scenic rivers. The report criticises the recent National Policy Statements for Renewable Electricity Generation and Freshwater Management: "Where the two NPSs may have counterbalanced each other, instead they favour developing hydroelectricity. The NPS on Renewable Electricity Generation does not sufficiently recognise the irreversible damage of some renewable electricity proposals. And the NPS on Freshwater Management does not explicitly recognise the value of preserving wild and scenic rivers" (p68).
Meridian announced today that they are no longer pursuing a dam on the wild and scenic Mōkihinui River citing concerns over their ability to secure resource consents and approval to inundate conservation land. The proposed 80m dam would have inundated an entire class III-IV section from Mōkihinui Forks down to Seddonville. It would effectively eliminate the upstream class IV-V section from the Johnson-Allan confluence by replacing the lower run with a 14km lake. Whitewater NZ had appealed the resource consents to the Environment Court along with Department of Conservation, Forest & Bird, and West Coast Environmental Network Trust.
In a Whitewater NZ media release, Conservation Officer Tony Ward-Holmes said, "This decision has meant that the Mokihinui will remain a pristine river valley, providing outstanding wilderness kayaking and rafting opportunities."
Contact Energy has announced that it won't be proceeding with proposed hydro development options for Luggate (25m, 86MW), Queensberry (14m, 160MW), Beaumont (30m, 185MW) and Tuapeka Mouth (50m, 350MW).
Whitewater NZ Access Officer Matt Bennett has been following up on the Aratiatia situation and provides the following update:
Last month a group of kayakers including Ben Brown and other Red Bull athletes were unable to kayak at Aratiatia. The group initially paddled the lower section of the Aratiatia rapids on the Waikato River. It was a warm up run and their intention was to scout the full rapid and paddle it on the next release.
Josh Neilson (Southern Underground Productions) is touring his latest extreme sport documentary Transcendance featuring Mike Abbott (whitewater kayaker), William Trubridge (freediver), Vanessa Quin (downhill mountain biker), Jokke Somer (wingsuit base jumper). This documentary offers an insight into the extreme sports experience backed by the research of Dr Eric Brymer.
Hugh Canard has passed on a warning regarding a steel cable hazard (incl. photos) on the Granity Creek section of the Buller River: There is a steel cable in the top of the first class III rapid above Granity Creek rapid. This is the rapid that pushes right against the bank and has large boulders in the flow. The cable may be attached to a concrete block.
It's time for NZ Canoeing 12.1 with articles such as Whitewater New Zealand News, Safety Course Subsidy, Women on Whitewater (Kylie Laxton-Blinkhorn), Conservation Update (Tony Ward-Holmes), NZKS turns 20! (Sarah Fawcett), ￼Mōkihinui, Mōkihinui, Mōkihinui, Mōkihinui, Eh (Mick Hopkinson), How good is your rescue kit and techniques? Part 2 (Matt Barker), Wairehu Playhole (Matt Bennett), Releases and Events.
Ben Brown reports that yesterday police prevented a group of kayakers from running the Aratiatia rapid on the Waikato river. The Police are presumably enforcing clause 3.9.1(d) in the Waikato Regional Council Navigation Safety Bylaw (PDF, 1.3MB) that states, "Not operate any vessels (other than for maintenance purposes) within 200 metres of the Taupo gates and hydro dam structures on the Waikato River." (PDF, 1.3MB). This rule has not been enforced on kayakers on Aratiatia before now and the rapid has been increasingly paddled since the first descent in 1998. Kayakers intending to descend Aratiatia can try submitting a "Bylaw exemption application form" to obtain an exemption from clause 3.9.1(d). Note the $125.00 fee.