Floaters throng to Hawea River play waves

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By JES­SICA MAD­DOCK

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.

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