New tree hazard on Upper Grey river

Colin Sonneveld and Steve Scott of NZOIA advise:

"There is a new log in the big rapid on the Upper Grey river section between Mc Vicars and the Staircase creek. The rapid is the longer one just after a right bend with the hole at the bottom. There are some logs sticking out of the big greywacke rock towards the top on river right. They are visible from above. The MAIN Log hazard is about two thirds down the rapid on centre left. The tree sticks out on a diagonal angle pointing river right. The level today was 2035 mm @ Waipuna gauge at 0630. At this level the log is exposed by 1.5 meters.

The grid reference is 260 L31 - 206721 Need to scout"

barry1's picture

Hugh forgot to mention he has a personal inerest in the tree as I just missed getting a photo of his cataraft getting flipped on it. I thought I'd better get the rope out instead. Fortunately it points down river and is more likely to create swimmers than entrapments. Be carefull all the same as it is right in the main flow.

jonathan's picture

(Posted on behalf of Hugh Canard)

We paddled this section (McVicars to the Clarke get-out) of the river on Sunday 12th January 2003. Yes, this hazard is still there, but some confusion in the naming of the river section led some to believe that the "Upper Grey" meant the section from Springs Junction down the 'normal' put-in at McVicars. Having read the description on the website again, I can confirm that it's accurate. We did the river at somewhere between 2000 and 2800mm, or discoloured and rising. We know this rapid as the biggest on this section. At these higher flows the large rock above the log generates a moderate hole on the left hand end which throws you at speed onto a line that is straight at the log. In flood conditions when the rock is covered, the log would constitute a serious threat as it is in the centre of the main flow and would be barely visible. I think the hazard is serious at most flows if intermediate paddlers are in the party.

Possibly of interest to those that paddle out to the Clarke confluence, is that a flash flood in the tributaries that flow off Mt Harata has altered the river bed at the entrance to the short gorge immediately above the Clarke River. It must have been a big flow, as there are dead trees up to 5 metres above the normal river bed in places where the bed is 50+m wide. The river used to flow to the right of a large rock island in Grade 1-2 water. The flash flood has forged a new bed to the left of the rock island, creating a nasty bluff rapid with an evil looking hole/whirlpool in it. The hole is no problem for a competent paddler to avoid but is not a place most paddlers would voluntarily enter. There are also considerably more ancient logs in the river than previously.

For the enthusiasts, with a bit of flow, there are a lot of play spots below the Clarke River confluence and a possible R. bank take-out at the end of Golf Links Road, or at some point on Waipuna Road where the river flows adjacent to the road.