All right! Things have finally come together for the Kayak Down Under NZ Expedition, Feb 5th 2011 we are finally on our way north by car, to start paddling south down the east coast of NZ. Dave Has been here almost a week now and we seem to be all set finally!
We are all loaded and geared up for the first leg of the journey from Cape Reinga (northern NZ) to Auckland, this should take us about 14 days (give or take a few). Spirits are high and Dave and I can’t wait to get out on the water finally, it has been a long time coming.
We are 5 weeks behind Schedule, with a bunch of unfortunate issues holding back progression, from camera gear not arriving, paddles being lost in transit and not being released by customs (they are still tied up in customs actually, though thankfully we have some fill ins), right down to transport issues and gear faults. This has been quite good in one way, as in the last 5 weeks the country has been hit by at least three tropical cyclones, however it appears there may be more to come, and this will be a challenging year to paddle the NZ coastline.
We have been excited this last couple of weeks, with our food sponsor Back Country Cuisine coming on board to supply us with the main meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner and Desert) as well as Dave arriving with Film gear and other much needed equipment, getting gear testing done, filming with Pure Productions, organizing a driver to get us up island, and our Lendal Paddles Finally getting into the country!
Things have been good, though as always last minute issues arise, our hopeful driver had to pull out, we then found a new one in Mathew St Martin, a zesty American chap, with enough charisma to power Auckland city. He agreed with two days notice and an all night sailing race the night before. Good stuff. Then however we discovered, customs wasn’t going to release our paddles by Friday as we had been told, we learn this 4pm Friday. Ahhh we are all set to leave Sat morning, SHIT! The paddles will be released sometime next week sorry, I was informed over the phone.
“Ok we need to get on with this trip, how do we over come two boats one paddle?” I pondered, and we need to scurry.” Jonesy!” I exclaimed to Dave, who was just as disappointed as I.
“Who’s that?” asked Dave.
Mark Jones was my lecturer at University, a great inspiration and now a friend; He is a member of the Adventure Philosophy team (Grahame Charles, Marcus Waters, Mark Jones), who have done numerous expeditions, including the first sea kayak circ of South Georgia island
Now Jonesy, had told me a couple of weeks ago, when I had dinner with him and his family, if we end up needing gear, to let him know. So I did and the reply was “no worries come on over we will set you up!” I showed Dave the book of South Georgia trip; he was excited to meet the man. We turned up, Jonesy set us up with some paddles (well used but perfectly sound), as well as a Hawaiian sling for spear fishing and some fins. After some tea and some tails we had to go and get back to packing and cleaning the house before Bruce and Louise returned from their honeymoon (friends of mine who left us to use their house for a week)
In the morning I got a text from Mathew, stating that they won’t be in till noon, as the wind has gone and they aren’t moving. Oh man another setback, I had to laugh at this one. No worries, gives us more time to clean (and for me to write this much needed blog update). So now we just wait for Mat and then we are off. Mat can sleep on the way up; he just needs to drive the car back we told him we will sponsor him with many caffeinated products for the drive home, and he is more than welcome to camp with us the night before driving back down.
Again big thanks to sponsors, friends and supporters for helping make this dream a reality!