The top picture shows part of the GPS track from my kayak trip down the Waimakariri River in May. Some of you may spot that something isn't quite right with the track (aside from not being in the river). That's what a kayak looks like going round and round in a big eddy where a big river hits a big cliff at 90°. The GPS track doesn't show that the kayak is upside down, mind you. Fortunately this was the last time I went over and I didn't take a spill in the gorge itself, but the swimming made me too tired to get my fishing gear out. Apparently the thing to do in this situation is paddle right at the cliff, which makes perfect sense, of course!?!
The bottom picture shows a picture of the trip taken from Google Earth. We put in at the green dot and then followed the river down to the red dot, which is Woodstock for those who know it. I live at the yellow dot on the left. Our house is the big round one with the yellow roof. Once you get to the top of the gorge there is no sensible way out for about 37 km. Although jetboaters do go up the gorge the general inaccessibility means that there are some great opportunities for kayakers taking their time to fish likely looking spots, of which there are plenty. We spooked quite a few trout and salmon coming down, and Jonno had a crack at some fish in backwaters.
This is more or less the same route Paul would have taken if he hadn't just missed the kayak stage cutoff in the Coast to Coast last year. Just quietly, missing the cutoff might not have been a bad thing at that point.