Styx River – Helicopter Trip Number 1

We returned to our accommodation after a great day on the Kakapotahi River. It wasn’t long before we began considering our options for the next day. It hadn’t rained all day, which meant that now we’d just have to play the waiting game as various rivers slowly dropped back down to a manageable level. After some thought and talk with some locals, we decided that the Styx River should have dropped down enough by the morning.

In the morning we headed off for the Styx River. Driving over the bridge at the take out, the level looked good. Not only did this mean we would be paddling a great river, but this would also be our first helicopter trip. Basically what happens is: you drive to the base of a river, a helicopter flies you to the top, then you simply paddle down the river, back to where you left your car. This is the way all kayaking trips should be done!

Paddlers arriving at the Styx River put in via helicopter

This was my first time in a helicopter, and it was a great way to start the day. Flying up the valley to the put in also gives you a chance to have a look at what you’ll be paddling. The problem is that all of the rapids look so small and easy from a few hundred feet up, it’s a completely different story when you’re looking at them from river level.

Setting off for a long day on the Styx River

The put in for the Styx river is calm and flat. But it doesn’t last long. This quote from the guide sums up this river perfectly: “At the end of the flats is a horizon line and you’ll be chasing it for the rest of the day. This run doesn’t stop.” There are almost no pools for the entire 12.5km stretch. With only small eddies, usually not big enough for more than 2 people at a time. Thanks to the recent rains, we had an above average flow, which only added to the challenge.

Ken in the background, Duncan('s head) in the foreground

Allen with a sweet little rock boof

Beautiful scenery on the Styx River

There's not too many places to stop on the Styx

Going for the stealth submarine move

Duncan powering through

More natural beauty on the Styx River

Duncan on line and committed

Ken (front) and Duncan (back) trying to navigate the steep boulder maze...

...and successfully finding their way through

Brent landing a solid boof

Ken cruising downstream

Self portrait at the Styx River take out by Tristan

It took us 7hours to paddle to the take out of the Styx River. There’s not many places to stop and rest on the Styx, so we were all getting pretty tired physically. But this truly was a great section of river, non-stop the entire way. I’d highly recommend this section of river to anyone thinking of running it. The Styx River Walking Track actually follows the river the whole way, so if you’re not sure if your up to it, give it a go, you can always get out and walk on the track. After all, it’s not about paddling every single rapid down a river, it’s about getting out there, having fun, enjoying the outdoors and finishing your journey safely and unscathed.

Trip Date: 5 January 2010
Check out Whitewater NZ for details on the full section of the Styx River or the shorter Styx River section.

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