Date: April 13th
Weather: Sunny with slight to flat seas
Swell: small E increasing
Wind: Light NE - W
Camp: Akitio Beach Campground
Meal: Fish and Chips, cooked at the store, though using the fresh blue cod that the Cray fishermen gave me.
Impression: BLOODY FANTASTIC!!! Two huge pieces of the most succulent tasty fish I have ever eaten, great chips on the side. I don’t think I have ever eaten such fresh fish used for fish n chips, wow, and Lyn only charged me $2 to cook them.
Stars: 10 out of 10
Awoke to another beautiful chilly morning, there was fog lining the valleys up the coast, so I knew it would be another hot day. I lingered a bit waiting for the sun to rise and warm my wet gear and dry the dew soaked tent. It was an awesome morning for a bit of filming. Eventually I loaded up heaved the loaded boat along the sand into the surf wash, paddled out through the small surf and turned right heading south again along the coast.
Near lunch I paddled past Cape Turnagan, another dramatic and stark headland, steeply cliffed, powdery grey and weather beaten. Near the tip I meet the crew of the Costa Rica, a Cray Fishing boat from Napier. They boys where quite excited by me and my adventure and after checking the weather with them as well as the channels on the vhf I should use for heading south, they then gave me a Crayfish and a Blue Cod to cook up for dinner. Very happy by the gift I thanked the guys profusely and continued on my merry way.
Quite funny though, my merry way is growing darker and darker mentally the further south I go, I am really stepping into unknown territory now. I have not explored any of the coast from here down to wellington and I don’t know what to expect, except wind and rocky beaches; these things I don’t look forward too. My mind is becoming more and more apprehensive, especially now that I cannot get any cell coverage to let people know how I am going. The feeling of being truly alone is now sinking in.
As a paddled on, every now and again, a huge set of swell would come out of the east and thunderously become surf on the shore, hmmmm, something is brewing. 20NM later I near Akitio river and township. I look at coming in on a nice flat bit of grassy dune, however the charts show that there is reef in front of the area. The waves a breaking OK, there are no exposed rocks but what about at low tide, Will I be able to get back off the beach, and will the surf increase? As if on cue, one of the monster sets comes through and tears over the reef in front of me, growling and slashing as it goes. I back paddle out of the zone before I get caught and paddle on south again. I “could” have got in once the big stuff went away, though I didn’t like the feeling of the dark rocky reef in the shallow water at the bottom of the waves, and you get far more cautious when you are alone!
A little further down the coast I again look at coming in on a sandy beach, though it is hard to see if there is a good camp site anywhere, as I am now looking straight into the sun and the sea spray from the surf is adding a harsh haze. I look around just in time to see another monster set coming, I back paddle my ass off, first over one cresting wave, then still paddling hard, over another bigger one, and I paddle harder still to just avoid being swallowed by the third and largest of them. Man! I look further south to the township of Akitio, and I see and off shore reef protecting the beach where boats launch from trailers, I am there!
Pulling onto the beach through small surf, I walk up and meet two Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) officers and some local fishermen. We have a good talk about my adventure, the coast to come (doesn’t sound fun!) and the increasing swell for the following days (not fun either and combined with the coast to come double not fun). I will get to Castle point tomorrow and probably stay there till the swell and the forecast look good to push on. In the mean time I got directed to Lyn at the Akitio Camp ground.
Lyn graciously let me camp for free and I found out that Tim Taylor, who is kayaking all of NZ solo (www.nzkayaker.com), stayed here for a week, and so did Alex Asher (www.capetostrait.org.nz) , who ran the length of the North Islands East coast this year from Cape Reinga to Wellington. Funny that we all ended up staying here!
I pitched my tent, got help carrying my boat up onto the camp area by some visitors from Woodville who were curious about my kayak, and then I ate a great feed of fish and chips that Lyn made for me in her Fish ‘n’ Chip shop from the Blue Cod I was given, which made the best fish ‘n’ chips ever! I enjoyed a long hot shower and then hit the hay after eating about 7 mint choc biscuits.
The spooks in my mind are coming out to play. I am very apprehensive about the coming coastline, mostly I don’t want to damage the boat coming in on rocky crap, though also I don’t look forward to big windy cold seas that beat you onto rocky crap, it is getting late in the season for kayaking south, and it will take me at least 6 more days to get to wellington (though I doubt I will get there that soon). I look forward to the mental challenge of doing this hard bit of coast on my own, though I know it isn’t really going to be fun until I look back on it, Or is it??