The big rivers of the central north island of New Zealand can be some of the toughest and scariest waters to wade. Big, round, slippery boulders, fast flow and a requirement to commit to the crossing once you’re out on the thick of it will test the nerves of the strongest and most experienced fly fisherman on the right day.
While deaths are relatively infrequent they do still happen and a decent scare will be enough to put most people off any adventurous wading in the future, which can put a real damper on the fly fishing experience. That said, with a few changes in tactics, crossing assessments and combination of the right gear to mitigate the danger, you can still tackle big water with confidence. Also, taking the odd self imposed dunking under controlled conditions will give you an idea of what you can expect when things go wrong so you can deal with the situation much better with experience on your side.
We teamed up with good mate and river rat, Garth Oakden of Tongariro River Rafting to put together a clip outlining some tips and tactics to make sure you can get to the other side of the river safely (and back) as well as what you should do when it all turns to custard. Garth has lived most of his working life either floating on, or in big rivers so he is just the man to give us some great advice on how to stay safe out there.