Dusky Track: Canoeing the Seaforth

Some folks are just downright suicidal, and sometimes I am one of them! In 2009 I had conceived a plan to be the first person (I think) to canoe the mighty remote Seaforth River in Fiordland NZ. I had a brand-new Alpacka ‘Fjord Explorer’ packraft (https://alpackarafts.com/product/fjord-explorer/) courtesy of Kevin Rudd’s bushfire compensation scheme following the 2010 fires here which left us trapped at home for weeks with fires burning all around us.

That year I walked in from Lake Hauroko to Loch Marie (3 days) with my raft and gear in my trusty Gossamer gear G4 pack: http://gossamergear.com/g4-ultralight-backpack-all-bundle.html. On the fourth day I canoed across the lake, then walked down to just past the Bishop Burn and spent the rest of the day canoeing the Seaforth. I had carefully checked out the river from Google Earth which misses some big rapids -Trust Me! I had also walked around that lower section of the Seaforth quite a lot of times so I thought it was pretty safe. Well, I knew there were a couple of quite deadly rapids, but I was indecently confident I would hear them coming up and could safely portage them. (Every man has a plan which will not work!)

Most of the river is deep and wide and consists of pebble races or Grade 1-2 rapids at most. Unfortunately, there are 2-3 rapids which come up on you pretty quickly, which it would be death to attempt, and which are quite difficult to portage. The worst was in the general vicinity of the old Supper Cove Hut. Suddenly on a left-hand bend, there it was: with perpendicular river banks both sides, but no other option but to grasp a tree root on the right bank and hang on for dear life! I did manage to climb 5 metres up that vertical bank pulling myself up by the tree root, then haul up my pack and the raft (both of which I had tied to a line) after me. There was one other nasty rapid below this – which I had never seen even though I had walked that section near the mouth of the Henry Burn (Moose Creek) extensively.

Once I was in the flat water below I thought I was home safe. By then it was getting pretty cold and daylight was fading. I had realised that there were oodles of sharks in the Fiord but I thought to avoid them by paddling the shallows on the margins of Supper Cove. I had forgotten the 2-3 kilometres of tidal deep river above the Fiord, which teemed with them! They were mighty curious too, repeatedly cruising underneath the raft, gently lifting it as they rubbed underneath. It was a little unnerving!

Steve must not have been on their menu that day! I had this experience about twenty times before I made Supper Cove where you can be sure I hugged its margins like a drunken sailor! However, as you can see I made it – much to the astonishment of the (few) onlookers, including my daughter Irralee, who had been anxiously awaiting me there for three days! The Seaforth River is a beautiful and exhilarating trip. I somewhat regret I might not paddle it again though!

I have been back for other looks though, as recently as a month ago. For a more detailed description of the track read: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/ & ff.

Thousands of beautiful tarns on the way across from Lake Roe - Seaforth in the background
Thousands of beautiful tarns on the way across from Lake Roe – Seaforth in the background
A very steep descent to Loch Marie
A very steep descent to Loch Marie
First view of the Seaforth coming across from Lake Roe
First view of the Seaforth coming across from Lake Roe
Putting in to cross Loch Marie
Putting in to cross Loch Marie
Some beautiful serene stretches of river along the way
Some beautiful serene stretches of river along the way
Some awesome views
Some awesome views
One of those vertical banks I had to climb
One of those vertical banks I had to climb
Quite a few log jams along the way
Quite a few log jams along the way
Some beautiful views along the river
Some beautiful views along the river
One of those 'killer' rapids i avoided
One of those ‘killer’ rapids i avoided
Sunset over Supper Cove Hut
Sunset over Supper Cove Hut
My daughter Irralee waiting for me on the Boat Shed beach at Supper Cove
My daughter Irralee waiting for me on the Boat Shed beach at Supper Cove
Supper Cove Hut loomed a welcome sight after such a river journey
Supper Cove Hut loomed a welcome sight after such a river journey
Packraft and Big Agnes mattress/floor inside Supper Cove Hut
Packraft and Big Agnes mattress/floor inside Supper Cove Hut
Great fishing for Blue Cod at Supper Cove
Great fishing for Blue Cod at Supper Cove

 

See also:

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky-day-2/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky-3/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky-4/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky-5/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky-7/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/from-dawn-to-dusky-8/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/insects-can-ruin-a-camping-trip/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-canoeing-the-seaforth/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-adventures-1/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eddie-herrick-moose-hunting-at-dusky-sound/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/eddie-herrick-moose-hunting-at-dusky-sound/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-friend-i-met-on-the-dusky-track-fiordland-nz/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-south-coast-tracks/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dreaming-of-the-dusky-track/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-dusky/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/moose-hunting/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-moose/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-moose-2/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-in-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/off-to-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/shadowland-fiordland-video/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-best-toilet-view-in-the-world/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/10-days-in-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-2009/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-nz-with-bryn/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-april-2007/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/weather-for-fiordland/

http://www.theultralighthiker.com/more-dusky-adventures/

 

2 Responses

  1. Thinking of doing a kayak trip in the sounds, should i be concerned about sharks? what time of year were you there?

    • I am usually there in March/April – which is probably the best weather-wise. These were mostly the ‘seven-gilled’ sharks I think they are call, so they are only as big as a man at most, so probably wouldn’t bother you much in a larger craft. However there are certainly also larger sharks. Lots of others kayak down there though. I think being eaten by sharks is the least of your worries. If you stay where the cruise ships go there will be a boat along once/twice a day if you need anything. Find out what radio they use and take one. These are incredibly cheap: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/emergency-cb-radios/

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