Rock "A"


After the accident this weekend, I have heard that they (MSA) want to remove rock "A" from the river!!! I am sure that all those that paddle and raft this section of the Rangitaiki will all agree that although the rock is a hazard it needs to be left in it natural position. We dont know what the result of removing rock "A" will have on the river. What will come next??? Do we remove all possible hazards from all the rivers that get used??? I beleive that we destroy enough natural waterway already and the danger that rock "A" presents is now apparent to all those that use the river. Put up signs at the get in to warn all users of the danger (Its the first rapid and easy to spot) and is most dangerous when out of the water (Low flow) During mid to late summer.
This section of river has an extremely high usage and due to this we may have accidents from time to time. Kayaking and rafting is dangerous and that it what makes it appealing to us all. Do we change the river or our attitude to it???
What is the consensus out there?

Kayne's picture

I agree, I will find out what is going on and get the detail of the proposed method to "Fix" the hazard. Once I know what the go is, those that feel strongly about this sort of situation can give their opinion. The powers that be are quite willing to listen to our views so I think that we should think about theirs. (Whether we like them or not)
I will keep you updated.

ian2's picture

I'd still rather it didn't happen. I know (from experience) that undercuts can be ugly, but I still see this as the thin end of the wedge. However, as you say, if it is going to be done it must be done in the least intrusive and safest manner possible (like not using any form of reinforcing bars or mesh that could create a further hazard).'s picture

I have yet to get confirmation that they will actually be doing any sort of alteration to the area. I expect that the undercut to the front and right hand (river right) side will be looked at. The only time that this "Fill" will be visible is during the driest months of summer. As a fill I would think that they will use something along the lines of concrete etc.

As you will be aware I have some major concerns with the alteration of any natural feature. But in this instance I do think that the filling in of the undercut will not have any impact on the nature of water flow, aesthetic's or wildlife on and under the water. The fish will not like the flow being dropped while the work is being done but the river will be returned to its natural flow quickly.

As for the saftey side of things, as there will not be a noticeable change to the flow around the rock and no change to the runnable line. All it will mean is that swimmers coming up against the rock will slide around and get a good old fashioned beating downstream. Not the underwater caving trip that is possible now.

If we make sure that all work is done correctly and our concerns are heard prior to any work starting I really think that there could be a positive spin to the whole senario. We just need to involved, hell I dont mind spending a weekend helping out to make sure that it is done correctly.

ian2's picture

So, Kayne, exactly which bit are "they" planning to fill in? Sounds like the undercut from what you say, but which one? Precisely where in relation to Rock A is this proposed fill-in going to take place and with what and by what method?

I still disagree with altering the river. There is a risk involved - deal with it or don't put on. Otherwise, are all potentially dangerous undercuts etc going to be filled in? I believe we need to oppose this on principle.'s picture

I have a different take on this (For once) I think that the filling in of the undercut will suit all parties involved. Yes it will slightly downgrade that part of the river, but how many people that paddle it actually think about the undercut as they pass the rock??

I think that this option is far less obtrusive then any other options that I have heard off and will stop the need for big ugly signs at the get in. Also if we work it right, it may give us a chance to get down there and remove all the wire and @!#$ that is left on the river bed from the old slalom course that used to be there. We put it there lets get it back out!

Lets try and make the best of the situation. I dont beleive that nothing will happen after two deaths, so the smaller the impact the better. Aesthetically there will be no change and the water will flow in the same way the rapid will just be a little safer.

But I am in a good mood today and my thoughts may change.

ian2's picture

You're joking? That's even worse than blowing it up! Way to go putting a new untried hazard in place of one that is avoidable that we all know about.

dodgyguy's picture

Again it will be a sad day when people who dont understand what paddling is about change something most people dont want changed

sam11's picture

Apparantly they are going to fill it up not blow it up

Glenn's picture

Also Russell Kilvington, the Director of MSA should know everybody's feelings on this.

Mail him a letter at:

8th Floor, gen-i Tower
109 Featherston Street
PO Box 27 006

ian2's picture

Have to agree with the others on this one. No way do we remove rocks. Risk and challenge are a big part of the attraction and if we take all that away I don't see as much point in the sport as I see now. Where would we stop anyway? About 3 years ago I was on a ship going past the Ninepin Rocks (near the entrance to Pelorus Sound) and there was a fishing boat aground there. Will the MSA start removing obstacles like this at sea just to be consistent with the idea of removing rocks in rivers? What about bulldozing a pile of rubble into Huka Falls to flatten it out a bit? Or widening the gap a Fuljames so there aren't any whirlpools anymore?

Don't let this sort of fuzzy thinking get a hold folks.'s picture

All well and good to say "Lets remove all of the really dangerous hazards" But does that make a bit of a mockery of the international grading system??? Grade 4 is exactly that, there is the chance of getting hurt (Or worse) if we remove the hazard we down grade the river!!! Do we want to paddle 2 - 3 all the time. Sorry guys not me! Leave the river how it is and I will use all the experience and training I have been given to decide if I am up to it.......If that fails me. It was ultimately my decision.

brendon0's picture

Oh forget it remove all the real rocks and replace them with foam rubber ones, take away the water and make that out of foam rubber as well. Put in a viewing platform and charge people admission.
Teach people the ancient art of scout and portage. A game where the river is treated as live at all times and the players decide for themselves weather or not to paddle a section or part there of.
If the rock is removed it will be a sad day for kayaking. If it were made by man then let man decide.

I support the warning and education of people.

greg3's picture

so shut the river off and fill in the under cut....problem solved. Would it be removed if it was a man made object life a bridge or a dam (also know hazards on our rivers). Then again if you remove another known hazard, the water, we would all be without a sport which attracts us (and those who have drown in the past) to the spotr and the environmnet that it uses in the first place.

Accidents happen.

alan's picture

here is a different opinion:lets remove rock "A". It would elminate the buffer wave & bad undercut in the middle of the river, it would increase safety & yet the section would still have its excitement, risk & adventure that we all love in the form of fantails, jeffs joy etc. I agree that we cannot turn back the clock in light of what has happened. I also see merit in the point that we cannot elimate all hazards/risks as that is part of what rafting & kayaking is about. However, isn't it sensible to reduce or eliminate any known dangers/hazards? this is what risk management is all about. Would it really alter the flow downriver that much if rock "A" was removed? (although I concede that it would change, I believe only slighty) These are some thoughts to promote further discussion & opinions. I can see crediable arguments for and against removal, this is just trying to look at both sides of the picture. what do you think?

ian2's picture

Hi Rex.

You could also try Mike Eno who heads the investiogation unit or Captain Doug Monks who is one of the more prominent investigators (not sure what his title is these days). I worked at sea with Doug for a year or so in the mid-90's and he is a very reasonable man.

A lot depends on exactly who conducts the investigation and how they view things as to their recommendations. You only have to look at the inconsistencies of recent decisions to see this effect.

dodgyguy's picture

Well being an expirenced paddler on the rangi, both rafting and kayaking, i think it'll be a sad day if they do remove rock A, sounds pretty stupid if they (the MSA) want to remove all danger from the river. Everyone who paddles knows that as soon as they are on the river they are taking a big risk and even newbie rafters are told what the conciquences are. the hazzard is there - educate people and we'll all see better results.'s picture

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rex's picture

OK people, lets let the MSA know how we feel about it.
Not sure if this is the right contact, but the title sure looks apt.

Joanne Sweetman
Investigations Administrator
Maritime Safety Authority
PO Box 27 006

Tel: +64 4 494 1253
Fax: +64 4 494 8902

Email:'s picture

Absolutley they are thinking about it. It was done down in Queenstown a couple years back (Toilet on the Shotty I think) so know the M S A think that they will get away with it again. I am going to stay on the bandwagon and make sure that it dont happen. the place to see whats going on:

ian2's picture

Like Rex I spent some time (8 yrs) in NI and the Rangitaiki was one of my locals. I don't recall a serious accident on the upper bit in that time, although the potential was always there at low flow.

However, the concept of blowing a rock out out of the way because it is a danger is possibly even more bizarre than hunting a shark that has bitten a diver. Some danger will always exist somewhere. I struggle to believe that this option has been seriously considered by anyone, but if it is paddlers need to fight like all hell to stop it. It won't bring back a life.'s picture

No the rock hasnt moved just flows get real low this time of year. They better leave the river alone I say.

rex's picture

Has Rock A shifted lately ?

I don't remember it being a problem during my time in the north island (all those years ago).
Hell, we used to runs slaloms down there. If i ever went back north, and found out someone
had been in there with a digger... well, i'd be disappointed.