Hey all just a little update this time. Saturday 21st I was back on the water after a more than a week of bad weather that had kept me ashore. A big thanks to Jen, Steve, and the kiddywinkles for looking after me during this time. I headed out from Muriwai Beach in conditions that were possibly a wee bit smaller than those that I surfed in on when I arrived. However things didn’t stay that way and they remained borderline dodgy all day. I had a big run to do, up to the Kaipara Harbour, and to be frank I was pretty much scared out of my skin. The Kaipara is the biggest harbour in the Southern hemisphere and this creates a tidal current that runs either in or out at a speed which is faster than what I can kayak. As if this wasn’t enough it’s bar is one of the most notorious in the whole country and it stretches across the whole 14km of its entrance...there is actually an area within this bar that is known as the “Graveyard” because of the amount of lives that it has claimed. So yeh, I was scared.
The paddle up to the Kaipara was hard. The swell stayed up at around the 2-3m mark but the wave faces often broke at 4m and trust me this makes for a very big freight train when you are in its way. On more than a few occasions I looked up and saw these monsters bearing down on me. In split seconds I went from my normal paddling speeds to almost flying speeds as I accelerated to get out of the way. I think I would have taken off a good couple of years on my life expectancy throughout the day as my heart rate was screaming all day. Eventually I got up to the Kaipara, still alive and not upside-down.
Here I faced a problem. With the huge swell running the whole entrance was breaking in a mess of towering whitewater. There was no possible way that I could have made it inside and I was forced to rethink my plans. In the end I decided to just push on and hope that I could find a place to land on the other side. Not ideal I know but it sure bet getting smashed by a monster of a wave. It turns out fear of pain is a great motivator. Getting across the bar was a massive ordeal and in no way would I ever recommend that anyone attempt it. I had to weave my way in between all of the breaking waves but with a huge stroke of luck this high risk idea actually paid off and I managed to safely land on the northern side of the entrance...I am officially calling this my scariest day ever.
Sunday 22nd and I was on the water in near perfect conditions. I had spent the night camped on a sand dune so I was really low in fresh water and anxious to make the most of a good day and get to somewhere with some facilities. I ended up at Baileys Beach. This is a cute little back settlement that is tucked into a little crack in the cliffs. It had been a perfect day on the water and I was lucky to be allowed to camp on the Morrison’s bach lawn (luxury in the camping world).
Monday 23rd and I was up early once again and heading to the Hokianga Harbour. After 2 long days I was starting to feel pretty sore but the weather had really come out to play and I was determined to make the most of it. Throughout the day it just got better and better until in the end I was cruising along in mirror like conditions. These are the days on the ocean that are just made for kayaking. I ignored the twisting aches in my shoulder blades and the burning pain in my hands from the fresh blisters that were forming, and I just swung the paddle. Dang it was good. By 3 I had slipped into the harbour having barely seen a wave all day. Once inside the entrance I was able to chop down a few gears a enjoy the end of great day as I cruised up to the Copthorne Hotel to meet Uncle Ian, Aunty Carol, the local Kaumatua, and a few other people which they had collected. A big thanks to Uncle and Aunty for looking after me for the night, and to the Copthorne for looking after Waverly.
Tuesday 24th and I was on the water before the sun even knew it was daytime. Over the previous 3 days I had paddled roughly 160km and I was definitely feeling it. Everything just hurt but I was determined to get in one more day on the water. I only had one decent day’s paddling and I would be at Ahipara at the base of 90mile beach and I really wanted to get there. The only trouble was that the weather wasn’t too keen to play its part. From the outset the wind was against me in a big way and I had to work hard to keep up a good pace. By lunch time the rain decided to join in on the fun but today I wasn’t going to let it win. I kept my head pointing north and my paddle swinging and the distance slowly just melted away. The final test was getting around Tauroa Point before I could line up the safety of Ahipara. At this point I was fully exposed to the wind and chop, which all cut against the swell. My arms and shoulders were getting close to their breaking points but from somewhere inside I found that last little bit of energy and got around and into the clear. From here it was a short jog to the beach where I was met by Lance and Mick from the 90 Mile Beach Holiday Park. A massive thanks to them for picking me up and to both Lance and Christine for looking after me while I wait out the most recent spell of bad weather.
So yeh that’s everything up to date. Ahead of me I have 2 days of paddling to get up 90mile beach, then about 2 weeks of paddling to get back to Tauranga. Currently I’m just waiting for the swell to die down as it has got rather large once again and I need it to be pretty good so that I can get safely around Cape Reinga.
I’m looking forward to getting home soon so stay tuned for the final instalment.
Paddle Hard, Tim.