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LAKE HOUROKO – ‘THE SOUND OF SOUGHING WIND’

Sunday 4th March 2018

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LAKE HOUROKO – ‘THE SOUND OF SOUGHING WIND’

GODZone blogger Hannah Johnstone shares a few factual gems about they playground we’re all loving at the moment.

Saturday March 3, 2018.
We climbed onto the jet boat at daybreak at the Lake Hauroko jetty, bound for Teal Bay and Waitutu lodge (CP16) via the Wairaurahiri River.
A spattering of raindrops broke the calm surface of the brooding water, in stark contrast to its notoriety for treacherous conditions. Johan and Joyce operate the Wairaurahiri River jet boat, normally carrying tourists and hikers, but this weekend ferrying GODZone crew across the lake and up and down the river. We were welcomed by their straight-up approach and cheeky southern humour. At 462 metres deep Lake Hauroko is New Zealand’s deepest lake, and also one of our most dangerous. Hauroko means “the sound of soughing wind” (hau = wind, roko = lake) and this wind can pick up quickly.
“It’s not uncommon to see the lake with three metre swells really close together, and big water spouts,” Joyce informed us.
We pass by Mary Island, home to a local myth that the island is shadowed by a Maori curse. It is the burial site of a Maori woman, believed to be the chieftainess of the Ngati Moi Moi tribe. At the southern end of Lake Hauroko is the outlet to the Wairaurahiri River. The river drops 157 metres over 25 km from Lake Hauroko to Foveaux Strait, and is the steepest river in New Zealand to be navigated by commercial jet boat operators. Bordered by old beech forest, thick fern undergrowth, and lichen-covered branches, it’s a great wilderness paddle, mostly Grade 2-3 with interesting hydraulics the whole way down. The continuous nature of these features mean competitors need to be switched on and be competent paddlers in this level of whitewater. In particular they need to be able to self-rescue at decent sized eddies (where water is calmer) are rare – a capsize could mean a very long swim.
There have been mixed reactions from teams today as they emerged from the river – a few swims, a few hairy moments, and quite a lot of fun.
We wait and see what the next stage as in store for them.

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