239km swim earns one very large pizza

For some, their vision of a dream holiday conjures up floating in a pool with cocktails to follow.

But for Christchurch man Rob Hutchings (44), his latest holiday involved a 239km swim of the Clutha River — and the biggest pizza he could find south of Wanaka.

Yesterday, Mr Hutchings stepped out of New Zealand’s second-longest river at its windswept Pacific Ocean mouth, about 15km southeast of Balclutha.

Clutha River swimmer Rob Hutchings and wife and support manager Tansy Boggan, of Christchurch, celebrate his 239km swim from Wanaka at the river mouth near Balclutha yesterday. Photo: Richard Davison
Clutha River swimmer Rob Hutchings and wife and support manager Tansy Boggan, of Christchurch, celebrate his 239km swim from Wanaka at the river mouth near Balclutha yesterday. Photo: Richard Davison
For the smiling Canadian-born chiropractor, it marked the end of a near five-day marathon swimming odyssey that began on Thursday at the river’s Lake Wanaka outlet.

‘‘I’ve been planning this since April, so it’s pretty unbelievable to have got here at last. I feel amazed it was even possible.’’

The journey had taken in rapids, sluggish lake water and the occasional hidden rock, but had left the seasoned adventure swimmer ‘‘surprisingly OK’’.

‘‘Physically I’m not too bad.

‘‘My wrist hurts a bit and my shoulder had some soreness, but my energy’s been good and I’ve even found time to enjoy the scenery.

‘‘This is the most beautiful place in the world for doing this stuff.’’

Supported by safety kayaker Laura Thomson, of Scotland, Mr Hutchings tackles rapids near Millers Flat. Photo: Tansy Boggan/Supplied
Supported by safety kayaker Laura Thomson, of Scotland, Mr Hutchings tackles rapids near Millers Flat. Photo: Tansy Boggan/Supplied
Wife and support manager Tansy Boggan said the swim — believed to be the first of its kind in the Clutha — had gone ‘‘unbelievably smoothly’’.

‘‘Rob manages to combine a peaceful, meditative state with a lot of determined grunt behind it. It’s a bit like a long walk for him — he gets in a rhythm.’’

Ms Boggan thanked the team’s kayak support crew — American Sam Blumers and Scot Laura Thomson — who volunteered for the ‘‘crazy adventure’’ after reading a social media post.

Understandably peckish following his exploits, the man of the hour had only one thing on his mind to wrap up his holiday.

‘‘Sun-dried tomato and pineapple pizza. As big as it comes, please.’’

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