I fell in love with Okere Falls as soon as I arrived. This tiny town is where I am going to be spending the most time training on the magically fern surrounded and warm waters of the Kaituna.
The Falls has only one business, the Okere Falls store, which takes on the roles of local café, bar, grocery store, and pharmacy. Besides that there is not much to do besides kayak, raft, and enjoy life.
Enjoying the river
Life in the falls is simple and lighthearted, and I tried to transfer that into my training. This deliberately laid back approach has been serving me really well by keeping me relaxed and happy and my lines on the water smooth and uncomplicated. With two cool little slalom courses and a super fun stretch of class IV whitewater deep in an incredible canyon Paddling on the Kaituna doesn't get old. What makes this place even more special is the community surrounding it, that absolutely loves, respects, and takes full advantage of the river. This is why you can find so many top level kayakers in the falls, and why, after years of listening to my Kiwi slalom friends speak so highly of their homes and rivers, I have chosen New Zealand and especially Okere Falls as my winter training hub.
Me landing on the cushy boils at the bottom of Tutea falls
Ella and I hanging out in an eddy after training
I’ve now had two very solid and super fun weeks of training here with Martina. She's unarguably one of the best female whitewater paddlers in the world, and I'm stoked to get to train with her! We've done lots and lots of loops, paddled some solid whitewater, and worked a lot on our our slalom technique in the gates. We also had a super sweet outdoor gym set up, which made strength conditioning approximately 1000 times more enjoyable!
slaloming on the KaitunaOutdoor weight room
We’ve packed our days off training full and gone on some amazing adventures. Martina took me down the some of the local creek runs, which has to be the coolest way explore Newzealand. The Kaituna is everbody's go to run, safe, exhilarating, and beautiful...not to mention incredibly convenient. On any given Sunday, though, the Okere crowd flocks to Tauranga to catch the weekly water release on the Wairoa. It's a much wider run, and a little bit more technical than the Kaituna. We also went Mountain biking in the famous Red Woods, which was a first for me, and stand up paddle boarding on lake Taupo to some really cool Mauri carvings. That same night, on our way back home, we also took the SUPs out in search of some thermal canyons that Martina had a hunch were in the area. By some miracle, we found them in the pitch dark, secretively tucked behind a generic island of weeds... along with about 30 000 glow worms. It would be impossible to describe just how amazing that night was, wading through the narrow and deep canyons, in some places filled up to our necks with water the temperature of the perfect bath, trying to differentiate the glow worms from the stars; so I will just urge anyone reading this to go check it out for themselves. They are somewhere behind that island I mentioned...between Taupo and Rotorua. Good Luck!
Practicing my boof on the Wairoa
The Red Woods
Hanging out on lake Taupo
Martina in front of the Mauori carvings
Walking along the beach at Mount Manganui