Thursday, April 15, 2010

Temporarily Beaten by the Weather.

Due to rough sea and strong winds forecast for the next 7 days, we will be taking several days off while we wait for more favourable conditions. We've had big discussions with the people in the know in this area who say the nasty weather is here for a while. It is raining and very misty which would make it hard to see the shore as we would have to paddle over 1 kilometre out to avoid the large shore break. Just too dangerous to continue at this time. Urghhhh!!! Only 4 days to go!! We did enjoy a visit yesterday from Paul Gurney (a policeman at Whataroa) and his daughter. Paul offered us any assistance we might need. We had met Paul previously when he used to live up our way and it is good to renew past friendships. We have found everybody so happy to help. We are able to leave our gear here stored away and our thanks to all that have been so helpful. We are also receiving lots of messages on the blog and phone calls at home and will carry on with the blog when we get under way again.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


What a great place to spend some time. We think we will be here until Saturday at least. The weather gods obviously want us to extend our trip. We are very fortunate to have landed in this spot and have a roof over our head. Swade and Paula who run "Kotuku Lodge Beach House - GonFishin", have been extremely good hosts and have catered well for our needs, even picking up more supplies for us for our extended stay. We also met Ian and Debbie James who previously ran the Kayak hire and Nature Tours. Ian and I had met previously and he was very helpful with weather charts and other options of landing sites down the coast. They also gave us veges and grapes for our dinner tonight. We really are very lucky to have met the people we have met and the places we have seen.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An Unscheduled Rest Day

Well, after flying along yesterday, today is the pits!! We did make a start in front of several clicking cameras but decided once we were out there that it was no place to be, so came back in. It has been a miserable day weatherwise with strong winds and heavy rain. But the people have been great. Richard Saunders, who runs Okarito Nature Tours, very kindly lent us his car, a very big thank you to Richard. We headed off to see the towns of Franz Josef and Fox Glacier. We also drove out to Gillespie's Beach and were very glad we were not attempting to land there today. The surf was really thundering in. Melz and I walked some of the track, a very emotional time, remembering that 23 years ago we had walked this same track with Steve. It had been quite a long walk and Steven was easily tired but he was absolutely determined to go see the seals. This is a special place for us. As we drove back to Okarito the sun came out for a wee while. A good sign but I think we may be here for a few days.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Flying along in the Wind.

Forecast for today was not good but conditions looked okay as we left Greens Beach. We thought we would try for Okarito and if things got a bit more than we could handle we would head into Wanganui River. Boy, there are a lot of Wanganui rivers in new Zealand! There was about a 4 metre NW swell and a really "brisk" NE breeze behind us. This tail wind was so good that we made Okarito by 1.30 p.m. Again, the surf landing was really interesting with Melz managing fine and me having to roll. Our thanks to Richard Saunders for carrying our kayaks on his trailer up to our accomadation. We have found a house which we are sharing with another family for a very reasonable rental. We will check conditions tomorrow, because although 40 + knot winds are forecast, the sea was pretty good today.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Further than Expected

Another very good day but it is starting to be quite chilly in the morning. We could see the snow on the hills as we paddled south of Hokitika. Called in to Ross for a lunch stop, Melz managing the landing perfectly but I had to roll twice after misjudging two rather large waves. A dry landing in the end but not very pretty. Again, we had the company of dolphins, approximately ten this time, who joined us for about an hour. We have managed to go furthur than intended today and have made camp at Greens Beach near Te Rahotaiepa River. We have also met some wonderful people who have given us flounder for tea.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Another Early Start.

Everyone up bright and early and helped us get on the water by 7a.m. The troop bid us a cheery farewell and we set off on this section to Hokitika in beautiful weather and nice flat sea conditions. As we paddled on past Runanga this cold mist hit us, the first time on the trip that our hands had been cold and it was quite eerie with the rocky cliffs up above the mist. It took about half an hour to paddle through the mist, which is known by the locals as 'the barber'. Once we kayaked through the mist the sun came out and it was beautiful for the rest of the way to Greymouth. We came in over the Grey River bar and stopped for an early lunch break. The long paddle to Hokitika was accomplished in just the best weather, in the company of Hector Dolphins. We landed at 5p.m. so another long but very satisfying day. Our thanks to Adele and Brian Dow of 252 Beachside for their help. The generousity of the people you chance to meet is amazing.

Friday, April 9, 2010

As Paul says 'A Cracker of a Day'

We paddled back down the Nile River to the sea and wonder of wonders, it was flat, hardly a wave to be seen. What a beautiful start to the day. We had left early because we really wanted to make Paul Caffyn's home our next port of call and we had quite a distance to travel. We approached Woodpecker Bay and Melz was quite sure she could see flashes as if someone was signalling but I thought it was just a welder. We came ashore at Fox River to be met by Paul, Leon Dalzell, Cordelia Chu ( who also has been attempting a circumnavigation until two dislocated shoulders got in her way) and Lynda Fergusson. And yes, they had been trying to get our attention! We pressed on and stopped later for a lunch break at Punakaiki, it is a very impressive sight to see the blow holes and the rock formations from the sea. We also had three Hector dolphins follow us for quite some time. It was a great feeling this evening when we paddled right up to Paul's front door at Rapahoe. A great day but tonight will be a great evening also. The BBQ is already in action and the red wine flowing. And great company.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

No Two Days are the Same.

What a difference a day makes. Today we were ready for anything. We were off to an early start and had arrived at the Buller River by 10.30. It was great to paddle up into the river where we spent some time and also stopped for a lunch break. We found Cape Foulwind aptly named as it presented us with a bit of a challenge to paddle round. This was a most interesting day with all sorts of marine life. We had lots of Little Blue Penguins for company near the colony at Tauranga Bay and also saw Dolphins and Seals . We have found the shore break down this part of the coast to be huge. We have to keep at least a kilometre or two out from the shore to keep out of the breaking waves. And some of these waves are BIG. We have stopped at Little Beach for the night, paddling up the Nile River to a Reserve that the locals said was a good place to camp. We walked up the hill to the Charleston Pub, where we have feasted on Rib Eye steak and Fish and Chips, washed down with red wine. Tomorrow we hope to catch up with good friend and seakayaking guru Paul Caffyn.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Little Short of Westport.

A late start today. We made a decision at 7.30a.m. not to go as the waves were not inviting at all. Then they seemed to settle a little so at 9a.m. we were packing frantically. We had met Sue Price and Mora Pryde from CSKN last evening and had a great chat. The girls were very helpful this morning and helped us carry the kayaks to the water and wished us 'bon voyage'. We kayaked past the mining complex at Granity and could see the buckets going up the hill. I think we are both a bit out of sorts as it wasn't a great paddling day. We have made camp near Birchfield, well short of our expected stop at Westport.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Big Surf in to Mokihinui River.

We made our way out over the Karamea bar - not easy but accomplished without too much damage. I had lost my helmet and bent my rudder and Melz had cracked her paddle at Kohaihai Bluff so we didn't want any more damage. The ocean was much calmer and we had a really good paddle down to Waimaire and the Mokihinui River mouth. We did not make any stops on the way down as there were big waves up to a kilometre out. We could see the black clouds rolling down from the north. It was not a good landing at Mokihinui with Melz paddle finally breaking, (she's using her split now) but we managed to get in without too much carnage. We pitched our tents at the Gentle Annie Camp just before the rain came down. Its good to be cooking in the camp cooking room. If we can get off the beach tomorrow we should be at Westport by evening.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Karamea and The Last Resort.

We spent a long time this morning looking at the big waves rolling onto our beach. Finally plucked up the courage to launch and battled our way through the surf. Once out on the ocean, the swell was not as bad and we headed south for Karamea. We had been advised that the shore waves were approaching 4 metres and it would be better to come in at Little Wanganui, but we had set our hearts on a stopover at The Last Resort so we approched the Karamea River bar carefully. We found it a bit rough but managed the entry okay and soon paddled our way upriver. We had stayed here a couple of years ago when we paddled the rough section of the Karamea River and were looking forward to resting up in this place. We had a shower, a lunch of bagette and burger, did our washing and spent a lazy afternoon. We have just enjoyed a beautiful meal. Our hosts Kathy and Peter and the team at The Last Resort have made us very welcome and we have had a great stay.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Narly Landing at Kohaihai Bluff

Left this morning with a slight northerly breeze but a big 4 metre swell. Landed on a rocky beach at Big Bay for lunch. Had a peek at the Heaphy River as a possible landing site but NO WAY!! a very rough sea. Our thanks to Paul Caffyn for telling us not to use this place as a night stop. He had advised us to camp at the southern side of Kohaihai Bluff and this was certainly a lot better than Heaphy but still a really narly landing, with us both getting in safely but Melz having to roll. And that great West Coast beast has arrived, the sandfly. We can also hear traffic on the road. Just starting to rain. Looking forward to Karamea (hopefully) tomorrow and showers at The Last Resort.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Good Day and Banana Cake

Two much happier paddlers today. Still had the westerly wind but the conditions were much more pleasent. We made good time to Paturau River where we had a break and met with the locals. As always, the highlights of these adventures are the people you meet and again we were well looked after, refilled our fresh water containers and given some freshly baked banana cake. Paddled on this afternoon and stopped at a stream just south of Anaweka River. The farmer says conditions are expected to be the same tomorrow. Good news

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Big Day but not a lot of Progress

We were pleased to leave the sandhills this morning. Sand in everything. Melz says the place is called the Gobi Desert. The wind was a very strong Westerly and we only just made it round Cape Farewell. Very rough sea. Called in to Wharariki Beach and also paddled through the Archway Islands. Great fun but we kept away from one channel as it was a real wind tunnel. Landed at Greenhill Bay where we kayaked 2km up the Greenhill River to an old hut where we stayed for the night. So far the landings have been much nicer than on the east coast, BUT we are only just starting on the West. Please note that this area is also a Reserve and permits are required to camp.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Up Before the Birds.

As a 15knot NW wind was forecast to be in our face today, we decided to leave early to try and get as far as possible before it arrived. We departed Separation Point at 5.30a.m. and made good progress, but still had that nasty wind to contend with. It was 11a.m. by the time we had paddled round "the spit" so we had a wee rest and checked out the Lighthouse. It was not the nicest of conditions as we made our way along the northern side of the spit towards Cape Farewell. We have pitched our tents in the sand dunes near Pillar Point. Back to the Back Country meals after being spoilt with steak the last two nights. Please note that this is a Nature Reserve and permits are required to land. We had spoken with Mike Ogle, Ranger for Golden Bay, who had asked us to take special care around the godwits as they were preparing for their annual migration to China.