What. A. Day…on the #Whataroa River in #newzealand. Ice melt creates a million shades of blue, from main-flow teal and cerulean, to side-creek cobalt and ultramarine. Two high-wall granite gorges provide a stunning backdrop to the run, while glimmers of morning sunlight illuminate the scene.

After a heli flight in, Class II and III #whitewater sets the trip in motion, followed by the first epic gorge. Then more whitewater before the second gorge with a significant section of Class IV+ that can be portaged – but only after catching a small must-make eddy. Next a wire bridge provides stunning overhead shot possibilities (you can also hike up and put-in at the bridge). Be sure to look river left for a mindblowing side-creek with a powerful shute and crystal-clear utramarine pool. Depending on flow levels, the final ride out alternates between sections of Class I+ with epic scenery and short intense Class II and III #rapids.

There comes a time when self-gratification must give way to honest recognition of another person's contributions and influence. This is the time, and Barny Young @packraftnewzealand3227 is the man.

It's a difficult task to properly convey just how much of an impact Barny had on both myself and the sport of packrafting. All those years he spent teaching himself whitewater kayaking and #packrafting are the work it took to be able to run the Whataroa, which he then documented for Kokopelli's killer promo vid (see YouTube). It was that video which inspired me to take up packrafting, and Barny's confidence in the Nirvana SB made it my go-to raft. Getting to run a section of this river with my whitewater mentor was truly remarkable, and I'll remain forever grateful. Yo, Barny! Thanks bro!

Sidenote: Barny and Jody Direen are both exceedingly busy people with full time jobs and numerous side hustles. I only happened to have the electrical engineering skills Barny needed to trade to for a stay at his home and a guided run on a few rivers. If you hit him up, don't be cheap. His time is valuable. Lastly, after 10 packrafting trips in three countries, my go-pro knockoff came loose, so I had to rely on my phone footage and Barny's POV shots (thanks bro!)