Floaters throng to Hawea River play waves
People are using ‘‘anything that floats’’ to try out Wanaka’s newest water activity, says Central Otago Whitewater club committee member Roy Bailey. The two new whitewater ‘‘play waves’’ on the Hawea River were proving to be a great success, with people using them constantly. While the waves were created for whitewater kayakers, boogie boarders and surfboarders had also been using them, along with people on ski biscuits and even blow-up chairs. "You name it, anything that floats, I’ve seen it on there." Mr Bailey said he was not aware of any conflict between the users, with the various sports sharing the facility well. The play waves opened last month after an 11-year consent process. They were funded by Contact Energy as compensation for the loss of whitewater on Central Otago rivers, due to the company’s hydro schemes. Fourteen resource consents were required to raise the river bed and constrict the flow of water, using concrete and rocks. The result was a drop and a gushing channel of water, which replicated a grade two to three whitewater kayaking experience. The maximum flow of 200 cumecs was released over the play waves last week. Many kayakers were calling it a world class play wave and the best in the country. The waves are above the Camp Hill Road bridge, between Albert Town and Hawea. The wave furthest upstream was ‘‘mellower’’ than the one closest to the bridge. The National Kayak Freestyle Championships will be held on the play waves next March, doubling as the official opening of the project.
World class: Adventure junkie Louis Tapper, of Queenstown, rates the whitewater play wave on the Hawea River as the best in the world.