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Sloggs' Travel Blog A journal of my travels in 2008 & beyond...

Able Tasman coastal kayaking!

NEW ZEALAND | Tuesday, 20 May 2008 | Views [6981]

One of the wonderful beaches we saw whilst kayaking along the Able Tasman National Park coast line...

One of the wonderful beaches we saw whilst kayaking along the Able Tasman National Park coast line...

This morning I was picked up by one of the staff members of the Kiwi Kayaking company based in Marahau, in their own car, as they live in the village I was staying in. I was the only pick up from here, so it made sense! The rest of the people on the tours today were coming from Nelson on a big bus. On arriving at the base I was the only guest there, and was hoping it might be a nice small group, or better still just me and the guide, but shortly people started pulling in. I was in a group of eight people and one mad-as-a-hatter female guide called Kelly. She was a great laugh all day, full of beans and a bit zany, as most of these tour guides down under seem to be! She was also highly professional and proficient at this game, and knew everything about the terrain and wildlife. I got to know a few of the group during the gearing up part of the morning, including Japanese chap Jun, who had lost all his bags in transit from Japan and was wearing borrowed clothing for the day! There were three other English guys on the trip, an Amercian/Colombian couple and a Dutch fella who was mad as a brush as per Dutch law! Gearing up was fun and we wore the full kit to compliment our double kayaks, which were a good size and complete with rudder and several storage holes for our gear. We had nice waterproof boxes to put our cameras into and strap on to the kayak so we could whip them out to snap away at any point. I got paired up with the limp-hand-shaked Jun, and immediately realised that I'd be in for a tough day's paddling at sea... ;-) The weather wasn't great, but we were warmly kitted out and ready to go. The sea had some chop to it today, after yesterday it was like a mill pond, and I was glad personally as kayaking is always more fun if you have some actual work to do I find. The trip took us along the Able Tasman National Park coastline, which is beautiful and full of wildlife. We saw many types of cormorant and wild seals, but were not lucky enough to have any encounters with dolphins or whales along the way. Even Orca's have been spotted along this stretch, but not at this time of year unfortunately. The seals were only in small numbers, but were easily spotted from the sea on their little island catching what little sun light there was on the bellies. We saw lots of little bays and caves that you can only see from the sea, and had a lot of laughs along the way. One section, called the 'mad mile' was particulary choppy, and at this point Jun decided he was tired, just as we needed to put some effort in against the extra choppy part of the trip! He was either not paddling at all or was only lazily putting half an oar in at a time, and would raise his oar out of the water and over the kayak when a bigger swell came over. I wasn't so bothered by this, as I wanted a solid workout for the shoulders, but I did have to bark at him to get paddling at one point as it felt like we weren't moving at all in the current, lol! I was at the rear, and was glad I was paired up with who I was with. Steering was done by foot with the cabled rudder, and I could keep the rhythm with the un coordinated Jun from the rear. The American couple were excellent at kayaking, with the chap being a triathlete and regular kayak user, the Dutch chap and the lone English girl were doing quite well, even with the crazy Dutch steering, and the young post-grad English couple were struggling to steer and paddle and weaved the whole course, bumping into everyone several times on route, lol! We did about 14km's in all, in choppy water with some of the swells flying over the kayak, all the while the guide, Kelly, was whooping her excitment, lol! We stopped for lunch, which was a freshly made soup and some chunky bread, plus huge muffins and coffees on a beautiful beach, and the sun started to break through the clouds too. We played some games, instigated by the mad Kelly, which were a lot of fun and had a bit of a break from paddling. After lunch we headed out to two of the little islands to see the seals and then a bit further along the coast to stop on a beach and wait for the water taxi to collect us. Jun was staying in a hut on this beach, and walking back tomorrow along the coastal path, so we said our farewells. Fair play to the lad, he smiled his ass off all day long, and despite his apologies for his poor English, spoke very well with us all. I hope he gets his bags soon! The taxi was taking its time, so we readied all the gear and then played some more games to keep warm, throwing a rugby ball around and clapping before catching it. I enjoyed catching Dutchy out a few times with the old tried and tested, look at someone but pass it to him, gag, oh how we laughed! When the taxi arrived we helped load all the gear on, up to our waists in the freezing cold water and then jumped in while the two staff members threw the kayaks on the back and tied them on. The ride back showed us just how far we'd come, and was pretty good in the choppy ocean. Back at the beach by their base, the tied was right out, and they had an ingenious system of reversing a trailor on a tractor into the sea so the boat could just drive on, lift the engine, and the tractor drove us all back to base along the beach and road. Back at base we all thanked Kelly for a great day, had a hot shower and waited for the bus back to our various drop offs.

All in all it was a superb day. I was pretty glad it was a little overcast, as the searing heat would be too much for four hours of paddling, although I expect in the summer the sea isn't as choppy. I was also glad for the time of year I'd picked to come here once again, as we saw no one else out there, and Kelly said that in summer, the water is teeming with kayaks, jet ski's and boats all day long. So just out of high season was once again proven to be a good pick for a visit to NZ! :-)

I've had another hot shower and some grub since getting back to my camp site and done a bit of laundry and have now settled in for a cosy night in ye olde campervan to plan the next few days and check emails etc. I think I'll be feeling it in the shoulders tomorrow, which is nice! There were a few good sections today, either where I was paddling the two man kayak by myself, or where I really dug in and upped the pace for my own entertainment (Jun had no concept of how quickly we were, or were not moving on the water bless him!).

Photos are over on facebook for thee to see...Chuurs :-)

Tags: adventures, animals, kayaking, the great outdoors


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