Will 2019 See a Return of the Duckie?

It was once a regular occurrence, Duckie season. Not for the last couple of years though. Changing weather patterns with wetter summers had almost appeared to make Duckie season extinct.

No more people ringing and asking whether they could book a Duckie trip but cancel it if conditions were not right. No more people emailing and asking whether the river was low enough for Duckies yet.

In fact, it felt it had almost got to the point that many of our customers had almost forgotten what Duckies are, and what Duckie season means. To explain this, we need to go back a few years.

Once upon a time, late summer here on the Rangitikei often meant the river was too low to raft the Grade 5 section. Not only were there disappointed customers, but also forlorn guides. There is only so much repair and maintenance work that can be carried out to keep everyone occupied.

Even what was talked about changed. Weather became an ongoing topic of conversation. Would tropical storm Martha, or Mary or whoever drift further south, and deposit needed rain?

Generally, a sad state of affairs for all, that is until the arrival of the Duckie.

Refining what to do with Duckies and how trips should operate took several more years until you get to where we are now.

The excitement of Duckie Season!

You May Be Asking, What Are Duckies?

If you have not been exposed to the term “Duckies” then here is a short description.

Duckies are inflatable kayaks, a bit like mini rafts. They are generally open topped, like a Canadian style canoe but much shorter, and are crewed by either one or two people. They are stable, manoeuvrable, and quite easy for novices to get some measure of control of.

In our situation, they are not suitable for higher flows, but a huge amount of fun when the river is low, the days are generally hot, and the water is warm. The latter is important as you get immersed in that water at regular intervals.

The way we operate Duckie trips is as a group guided activity. In other words, you and a friend have your own boat and attempt to point it in the right direction. Our river guides are very like mother ducks, flitting here and there, explaining what to do in rapids, pointing you in the right direction and generally coaching you through navigating what are fun, but also challenging sections of white-water.

An Extreme Fun Activity

For a few years each summer brought a regular Duckie season. Our Duckie trips became well known for being a challenging, but also fun, almost extreme fun, activity. In fact, an activity unlike anything else, and anywhere else we know of.

A major reason for this is the section of river we operate these trips on.

This part of the Rangitikei River, with more water, is a Grade 4 to 5 section of white water that is often recognised as one of the best half day rafting trips on the planet.

When you take a lot of the water out, what you have are well defined channels, and lots and lots of drops and steep chutes. Something to certainly get the heart going.

How Physical Do You Need to be to Pilot a Duckie?

Generally, if you would be an active participant on one of our Grade 5 rafting trips, then you will also have a huge amount of fun in a duckie. Many of our regular rafting customers welcome duckie season and the challenge and excitement it can bring.

You can find more trip details here – http://www.rivervalley.co.nz/activities-adventures-tours/by-raft/inflatable-kayaking-rocks-rapids-half-day-trip/

What of This Summer, 2019?

Weather patterns make it look like this summer may bring a return of the Duckie. In fact, that return may be as early as next week, most probably after the 11th February.

At this stage we have no idea of how long the Summer 2019 Duckie season will last. It could be only a few days or may last several weeks. The long-range forecast indicates it will not last months, so if getting wet in a Duckie sounds like fun to you, it would pay to book sooner rather than later.

Here’s to Duckies – fun, wet, challenging and exciting!


Brian Megaw

A Duckie Trip On The Grade 5 Section Of The Rangitikei River

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