Quake creates 'gnarly' river rapid

3:57 pm on 8 December 2016

Toby Johnstone's home was red-stickered after the Kaikōura earthquake, but the kayaker found a silver lining to the 7.8 magnitude shake after a new rapid appeared in the Clarence River.

Toby Johnstone kayaks the new Clarence River rapid in Kaikoura.

Toby Johnstone Photo: Supplied

Caused by a massive uplift of limestone slab, the rapid appeared right in front of rafting guide Mr Johnstone's cottage, on the Clarence River, north of the township.

Naturally, Mr Johnstone, whose home was lifted almost 10m by the 14 November quake, was the first to ride the new rapid in a kayak.

Because it kept changing, he had kept his eye on the rapid in recent days.

Until now it was "too gnarly to run".

When he saw it was runnable, he said, "I couldn't help myself. I went and grabbed my kayak ... and went and did it".

"I caught it at the right time."

He told Morning Report it was a "pretty amazing feeling" to be the first to ride the rapid.

Before the earthquake the section of river was "dead flat water", he said.

One of the ruptured faultlines went through the river. It created a "big step" in the river.

That made for a "pretty awesome rapid", Mr Johnstone said.

Toby Johnstone kayaks the new Clarence River rapid in Kaikoura.

The Kaikōura earthquake's gift to kayaker Toby Johnstone on the Clarence River. Photo: Supplied

Rafting on the Clarence River was on hold because of the "unknown" factor of the changes in the river from the earthquake.

When the earthquake hit, the river was in high flow, "so all the boulders were rolling around and moving", he said.

Staff had scouted the river by air, but were yet to kayak it.

"It's all looking reasonably OK," Mr Johnstone said.

The new rapid was about a class three, he said, meaning it was "fun" and "manageable".

"It's something fun to come out of the earthquake."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs