Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Purchasing a New Toy

Over winter in Wanaka I usually attend the Mountain Film Festival. This is a great opportunity to see a huge assortment of crazy activities filmed by adventure junkies from all over the world. In particular, I'd noticed these wee inflatable crafts that could be carried on your backpack, then used when the path got obstructed by a waterway. Not an uncommon scenario in NZ. Then last year one of the local filmmakers had brought his along to the opening night. I took one look and was hooked!!

For quite a while I've wanted some sort of watercraft that allows me to access rivers and lakes when travelling, but wasn't keen on a heavy kayak or even a SUP, as lifting them on and off a vehicle is a right royal pain. Something light and inflatable, yet still very durable, seemed impossible, and then I discovered packrafts. My search was over....

So began quite a bit of research. I discovered that the pioneers in modern packrafts were an American company called Alpacka, who had been designing and producing these awesome wee craft for over 20 years. Then a large amount of copycat companies, selling rafts at cheaper prices, had entered the market within the last 5-10 years. But the real innovators in rafting were the original company.

The local bike shop in Wanaka were stocking Kokopelli packrafts, another American company. I went to have a look at the boats but wasn't impressed by the workmanship. The shop service was also non existent, but it was the same day as the Wanaka Challenge so I'll excuse them that...

I then drove down to Te Anau, where the NZ supplier of Alpacka rafts lives. I went to see Arno and spent a good 2 hours discussing just exactly what sort of raft would suit what I wanted to do. In particular, Arno convinced me that I wouldn't want to restrict myself to simple lakes and rivers, and would want to challenge myself in whitewater at some stage. With that in mind he suggested a raft that would see me through a lifetime of paddling, for which I am extremely grateful. He suggested I go away and think about it, and then order my raft online.

I did!

Then I waited six long weeks for it to turn up. So of course I went tramping.

That's next.....

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