An Early Season for the Duckie

A good seasonal indication for the amount of rain we have had here at River Valley, and more importantly, how much there has been in the headwaters of the Rangitikei River up in the Kaimanawa ranges is the date that we roll out the duckies. Our duckie trips require low flows in order to operate. Less rain means low flows.

Last season it was almost mid-February before we were able to offer any duckie trips. Each year varies, with some summers having no duckie season at all.

This summer, very little rain since mid-December means we are in duckies now!

Anyway, I have got a little ahead of myself.

What Is A Duckie?

A duckie, or more correctly an inflatable kayak, is a one or two-person mini inflatable raft. It may be propelled by a single or double-bladed paddle. Think of an open canoe, but with inflatable tubes, to get a better idea.

In our context, these boats are used at low flows giving an exciting and challenging ride.

While we can offer duckie options on almost all sections of river on which we operate, duckie season really applies to trips on the Rangitikei River Grade 5 section when flows are low enough to offer both an exciting and safe trip.

grade 5 inflatable kayaking / duckies
grade 5 inflatable kayaking / duckies

Why Safe?

Why these trips need low flows to be safe is because you guide your boat all by yourself. Of course, we have guides supporting you, instructing you and guiding you, just not in the same boat. You can expect to get very wet, with the likelihood of flipping your boat being quite high.

The Grade 5 Section of the Rangitikei River

This is where we operate duckies during duckie season. The Grade 5 section of the Rangitikei River is in the top 8 river sections that Red Bull claims are the best river trips on the planet. Just because the flow is low during duckie season, does not make this trip easy or some doddle.

Rather the bones of every big rapid are still there creating drops, shutes, and confused white water. In other words, a white water playground!

grade 5 inflatable kayaking / duckies
grade 5 inflatable kayaking / duckies

Are Duckies For you?

No doubt piloting your boat through steep rapids can be challenging; however, we find that most people love this level of challenge and many rate taking part in a duckie trip as one of the best adventure experiences they have ever done.

If you were up to a standard rafting trip on a higher grade river, then a duckie trip would probably be for you. You do need average fitness (the trip lasts about 2 ½ hours), be somewhat co-ordinated, and be able to work with a mate in the same boat. As an aside, because some people love duckies so much, we have them contact us at this time of the year wanting to book trips, but only if we are in duckies!

How Long Will This Duckie Season Last?

How long duckie season will last is really in the lap of the gods. Looking at the weather forecast (from 25th January 2020) for the next couple of weeks, I would have to say that the season will last at least another three weeks. Over the years, this timeframe would be about average.

Generally, duckie season does not last long. Being able to pilot your boat on steep and challenging rapids is a unique and rare experience. If being a part of this sounds like you, give us a call.

Brian Megaw

grade 5 inflatable kayaks / duckies
grade 5 inflatable kayaking / duckies

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