Kiwi adventurer Deane Parker is at it again, filming a bikeraft adventure to a remote New Zealand national park to highlight opportunities that flow from the economic growth of trail development.
Fluid Trails – Kahurangi Bikerafting Epic
Seeking Bigger, Longer, Harder Adventures
After a successful bikeraft adventure that he captured in the award-winning 2017 film, “Waiau Toa Odyssey,” Deane Parker wanted more. He sought a longer, harder bikerafting route to test his mettle. And he wanted to ride off road as much as possible, preferably on single track, linking trails with rivers.
Despite having a family and farm in Caterbury that keep him busy, Deane has continuously adventured into remote regions since his teens, using his main tool of adventure–a bicycle. He started racing in his 20s, but then developed a love for long-distance journeys.
“I prefer the solace of using the bike to explore as far into the backcountry as wheels allow me to go,” Deane explains. “And with the invention of decent bikepacking gear came my ability to travel further, lighter.”
Deane also spent a lot of time boating rivers. And, as soon as a friend introduced him to packrafting, his options for exploration expanded exponentially.
“I saw the ability to carry a boat on a bike as the perfect symbiotic relationship of merging my two passions,” Deane says.
Bikerafting The Kahurangi Loop
So, early in 2018, Deane began brainstorming his next adventure. He eventually settled on the “Kahurangi Loop”, a “trail” on which he could both ride single track and run Class III rapids. After adventuring for over three decades in the park, Parker’s interest lay not only in the recreational opportunities, but also in the park’s history, flora, and fauna.
“The second largest national park in New Zealand, Kahurangi boasts some of the most diverse and spectacular landscapes in the country,” Deane says.
Free flowing pristine rivers tumble out of alpine tussock lands and temperate rainforest. Untouched wilderness is intersected by one of the country’s Great Walks, The Heaphy Track and the recently completed, 85-kilometer Old Ghost Road, the longest single track in the nation.”
And, bordering the park on the south, runs one of the country’s biggest volume rivers, The Buller. Then there’s the swift-flowing Mokihinui, which cuts directly through a granite canyon at the heart of Kahurangi. And don’t forget the Aorere, which tumbles out of the mountains in the North through bands of limestone. It empties into the ocean at Golden Bay.
For this adventure, Deane invited Samuel “Muel” Jones and Rose Green. He and Muel knew each other well after embarking on many extended, Type 2 fun adventures together.
“Muel still runs rivers professionally, along with many other outdoor leadership roles,” says Deane. “The ‘mountain man,’ he always takes one for the team and is one paddle or pedal stroke in front.”
Rose, he says, brought high energy levels to the team, along with serious mountain biking skills. “Plus, less testosterone was also a tick in a box,” he adds with a laugh. Deane introduced Rose to packrafting, hooking her immediately.
The Film’s Ultimate Purpose
In the fall, this dynamic trio completed the adventure in 11 days. Deane is now working on a film which he hopes will showcase the recreational opportunities and spectacular national environment of the Buller and Tasman districts.
“I’d also like to highlight the opportunities that flow from the economic growth of trail development and sustainable tourism development,” he adds. For example, he explains, in 2010, the government granted Meridian Energy a resource consent to dam the Mokihinui Gorge.
“Almost immediately the Department of Conservation lodged an appeal with the environment court, and very strong public opposition followed,” Deane explains. Various groups contested the decision, highlighting the natural intrinsic value of the area to paddlers and hikers. In 2012, Meridian Energy cancelled the project citing high costs environmental concerns.
Now, says Deane, the Old Ghost Road, which encompasses the Mokihinui Gorge, is open to all. “This trail is truly an outstanding multi-day ride, and even though I’ve done it a few times, it seems to get more fun each time,” Deane explains. And the Mokihinui Gorge? He cites it as one of the “most amazingly scenic river sections” on the West Coast.
“Seldom paddled, it requires helicopter or hiking access,” Deane adds. “Subsequently, it will probably become one of the iconic challenging packrafting trips in the country!”
The New Zealand Mountain Film Fest in Wanaka at the end of June will host the film’s world premiere, and then Deane will offer the film online for free for all to enjoy. Stay tuned. We will update you on the release. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer!
Deane still seeks funding to help polish the film for the film festival. If you would like to get involved, please visit his website for more information. Or, follow him on Instagram to check out more of his photos, film clips, and stories.