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New Zealand 2017
My First Ever Waterfall
Matteo Williams

For the Holidays, I went to New Zealand to visit family, but while I was out there, I was able to run the stout. I mainly ran the Kaituna River which is class 4-5. But I also got to go to the Wairoa River which 4+-5. I met so many good people. It was just an all around a amazing trip.

I had heard so much about the Kaituna River and the big waterfall called Tutea falls which is an eight meter (24 feet) waterfall. Tutea falls is the largest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. We drove to Rotorua, the town next to the Kaituna. We arrived late but before it got dark we ran about a mile in the bush to scout and check out Tutea Falls. It was a pretty impressive drop. I could barely sleep the night before because I was so excited for the next day my first ever waterfall!

The next day there was an event that day called “Christmas at the Kaituna”. There were a lot of crazy races, there was the standard downriver race and a boatercross but they also had a race where teams of three had to get a beach ball down the river and finally a swim down the river. It was crazy people were using blow up swans, paddleboards and flippers and fins to swim down the Kaituna. It was fun to compete in some of the events and meet all the cool kiwi kids that paddle down there.

When I finally got onto river it was so awesome I was lucky enough to have Nikki Kelly, super cool friend of my mums and amazing to kayaker to guide me over the waterfall for my first time. I also managed to find the only small antix in New Zealand courtesy of Anna Bruno.

Paddling my first ever waterfall was amazing. I will never forget being surrounded by bush at the top of the drop waiting for my turn. Then late boofing and landing at the bottom in the big white fluff. It was amazing. I had awesome runs of Tutea Falls. The Kaituna was just a blast.

Then I went to the Wairoa River, its a dam release river. Class 4+ -5. Another kiwi classic just down the road from the Kaituna. The biggest rapid was named Roller Coaster, it was huge with an undercut at the bottom. I was really scared about Roller Coaster when I was looking at it but it was super fun. The best part of the Wairoa was the last waterfall which you could airwheel off.
I can’t wait to go to Christmas on the Kaituna again next year! this year I want to race in all the races!

– Matteo Williams