DAY 80...Finally Around the Banks Peninsula

We had a plan to beat Mother Nature today and calm the pacing tiger in me.  There was a weather window big enough for me to get to my last point of the peninsula before the push to Timaru and further south could begin.  Of course Mother Nature and her wind patterns where heading into very light winds from 1am, an early morning paddle was needed to push and complete this section.  Alarm set we headed to bed and at the crazy hour of 2.39am we were up I got ready.  Tricia, bless her soul, rolled out of bed and started packing Cuzzie.  I need to give you some history on Trish and her working career.  She was an Air NZ flight attendant for ten years so she is used to short sleeps and crazy hours, cat napping is a great skill of hers.  She is up and it was like she was back on an airplane.  The blanket was rolled and folded neatly, sleeping bag packed away, tray tables in the upright position, everything tidy and ready for Cuzzie to takeoff!  My breakfast and hot drink would have been delivered on a trolley if she had one.  It was my first smile of the day, another cool crew member for Redz NZ journey.

We were soon on the road to the Wainui boat ramp, Trish is talking to Cuzzie like her new pet and asking if she had enjoyed her days rest and apologising in the next breath for the crazy roads she was going to be taking her on to track me as I gapped it to Te Oka.  I am sharing this journey with such a damn crazy but cool group of people, thanks guys for having my back and believing in my dream.

Anyway I have diverged, back to my paddling.  Off I went, lights blazing on the back of T2 into the dark of Akaroa Harbour at 3.50am!  Gingerly I paddled as I got used to the dark.  I focused on the horizon, a bright gap which showed white in between two massive, black, dark cliffs, but I knew where I was going.   I had 10km to knock out before I was out of the harbour and heading on the outside of the peninsula and my first touch base with Tricia.  It was a peaceful zen paddle, no waves, no wind, no sound, just me and the lap of water on my paddles as they dipped into the ocean...bliss

The Inreach satellite unit was being used for communication today, supplied to us by Shane from Maprogress (I hoped I had practised my new skills enough) so at the point I got into the real paddling and then found a calmish spot to send my message.  I waited until it was sent and within a minute I had a reply.  Tricia will be happy I thought, T2 & Red were on track and in contact with her crew, Air Cuzzie and the captain are happy, I was on the flight path and radar!

Life got a little harder on the water now, I was into the washing machine ocean.  I paddled gently and picked my way through the crazy ocean.  We had timed this well, the sun was due to pop up, I could see my way clearly and I was well under way.  The dolphins were with me as soon as there was light and the sunrise was brilliant, an orange fireball.  The dolphins played and then they went and then just as I started to wonder, "Where are they?" a new set of fins were seen.  Pretty special times.  There were patches on this paddle that were more of a challenge than I thought this weather forecast was going to deliver but today the challenges where okay.  This is how I feel about the weather, I had not told the weather gods I was leaving and I think maybe they were a little grumpy I was out and about so early, well that is how I like to look at it, it entertains me to make them out to be a big grumpy sleeping giant sort of character.

Checkin two and three went with no hitches and there were replies to my new unit with a weather update saying, "Best you make sure you are off the water by 830 am and at your destination as the wind is going to hammer you otherwise."  I was ahead of schedule so enjoyed the last section.  As I rounded the point into this little bay I scanned for Cuzzie, no sign.  I did a vhf and no reply.  I checked my distances and triple checked I was in the right bay (as I have been wrong before) but Garmin, Navionics and my new tracker all said I was correct.  This was weird, maybe Air Cuzzie had under estimated the roads.  I landed on the rocky beach, jumped out and dragged her up the beach.  I got changed into my warm clothes as the wind was now blowing intensely, I unpacked my vhf and called again.  It turns out I had slipped into the bay without her seeing me and we had missed each other's earlier vhf calls.  Soon they were pulling up next to me, we laughed and shared our stories of this morning, I had tears running down my face of the land crews antics this morning, she sure has a story or two to tell!  We loaded up and my day of paddling was complete, all by 9.00am and we had the day to go and discover new things, the positive of an early morning pre dawn start on the water.

Off we headed up some crazy hills and dirt roads, again I was laughing as Tricia who is in control of Cuzzie because she hates heights!  Yep a flight attendant who did not mind flying, but hates cliffs.  She stares ahead, chatting and encouraging Cuzzie up the hills.  I thought we could just about take off like Thelma and Louise at one stage as we swing around these narrow winding cliff roads.  I actually took an iPhone video of this road trip and the views, it felt like a reality tv show, 'The Worlds Most Dangerous Roads!'  We made it back to tar-seal and swung into Little River Cafe for a well deserved coffee.  We sat in the courtyard in the sunshine, laughed and congratulated ourselves on completing this section.  

The rest of our story this morning is still amazing.  The campsite we have located is actually in the top 2 and has knocked a couple of others off the leaders board of campsites.  Little River Campground, please go check it out, Marcus this place is totally awesome, a different and unique destination.  Thanks so much for supporting our journey with the free stay.  This place is a true little piece of paradise.  I am surely liking them on Facebook and leaving a 10/10 comment for their website.  They have an open outdoor kitchen setup, a scary slippery slide, a watering hole, massive trees and native bush walks...the list is endless!  We are on some adventures for sure.  I am on the water slide at 4pm when it opens and then racing off to have a chat with Peter about Kelp and how they can turn it into products for the NZ market place.

My smiles and giggles today:
Tricia, Air Cuzzie and their stories today.
The Little River Campground, you rock.
Nailing at last this peninsula!  So untamed and beautiful.
Eating the most yummy leftovers for lunch, reheated Mexican.
More dolphins.  I said hello and thank you to them for their company.
Tricia who now calls all the stray sheep that run in front of us and Cuzzie in a crazy frenzy  'Doris's'.

Yes today has been a fun day and it is not over just yet.

My thoughts today:
Enjoy what ever you do, smile even when you are truly being tested, and if all else fails be like Tricia and talk to Cuzzie or a 'Doris' or two.  We are all crazy and slightly insane, it makes life fun.

Big hugs
Red and the crazy team

Ford, Red, Lena and the beaut Kombi Van

Ford, Red, Lena and the beaut Kombi Van

Fireball Sunrise

Fireball Sunrise