Day 406...Perfect Out On the West Coast

Monday 5 December 2016

For the kayakers:
Waimamakau River to Ahipara.
0.8m swell.
Light winds, hot and sunny.
Incredible coastline vista.

As I sat in the early morning dark, I wished out loud that the day's paddling could be over and done with. For such a long time, I have so much wanted to round and pass Tauroa Point and paddle into Ahipara (Shipwreck Bay) but, wish as much as I like, I still have to do the hard yards and paddle the 67kms.

I sit and force-feed myself, drink my tea and step outside to a cool wind and a still, cold, dark morning. I climb into my kayak and gradually drift down the river towards the ocean, chatting to Bianca as she walks along the shoreline. We pass a man in the river, fishing with his net. But he didn’t seem to notice us, for he was deep in concentration on what he was doing. As I got to just before the river mouth, a small hiccough occurred, as I had selected the shallow channel and ground to a halt on a sand bank! Oops! Luckily Bianca was there. Quickly she removed her warm clothes, ran across the deeper channel and dragged me out to the edge of the ocean!! Thank goodness for support crew.

There wasn’t much time to waste as, instantly, we saw a calm moment and I was off and out the back with not even a wet face. Poor Bianca wasn’t quite so lucky, as a large swell came smashing in just after I had departed and it raced up the beach to saturate her sweatshirt and the rest of her dry gear on the beach. I think I got off way too lightly today as, out the back, I paddled over six or more huge swells that rolled into the beach just after I left. They certainly wouldn’t have been fun to meet as they broke. Oh well, some days luck has to be with me.

I headed towards Hokianga Harbour entrance. As I was already out wide, I stayed wide for most of the day, aiming at Ahipara Point. The sun broke through the clouds and, from then on, it was hot and sunny; a beautiful day. So much so, I even forgot about looking over my shoulder for big swells as there were none! Today again, the West Coast was amazing. I haven’t got a single negative thing to say, it was like paddling anywhere on the beautiful East Coast. I did look to the sky and thank Mother Nature for treating me to such an enjoyable day on the water. I also wished for some dolphins but, alas, I was not going to be that lucky and no dolphins came my way.

The blue ocean next to the sand dunes and green hills made for another beautiful vista. The other two harbours I passed by looked inviting and maybe some other day I’ll be able to duck into them and explore. But, for the moment, my mind is on reaching the point up ahead. Now, I can clearly see the cresting waves up ahead. I take a wide, wide berth of these large swells that are rolling in, all around and past the point, before I talk with my support crew. I’m told that, out of the three beach options, Shipwreck Bay is the best (great!). I have a strong, outgoing tide and a tough head wind, so the 5kms I still have left to do take quite a while. But Bianca is correct, the landing is a breeze, surfing in on a soft wave to be greeted by her and our new backpacking friend Simon, who is also from Germany.

Afterwards, we loaded, chatted and all decided that, as it was still really hot, we would quickly check into the campsite, get through a couple of chores and then go for a swim. We had a refreshing dip, some fun in the waves, dinner duties and then checked the final weather reports and it looks like maybe another day of paddling tomorrow!

My smiles today:
Stranded on a small section of sand in the river mouth!
An incredible and unbelievable West Coast day.
A swim after a big day's paddling. Summer has certainly arrived in Northland.
An alfresco dinner whilst sitting outdoors on a rug.
Ahipara campsite. Just lovely.
The fruit cake from Elaine. Thank you, even though it’s nearly all eaten already!
Clear blue, late evening skies.
Thank you for the generous donations, they make it possible for me to complete my dream. I am humbled.

My thoughts today:
Another day, another blessing.

Goodnight from Red and Bianca.

Ma Te Wa.


On the water.

On the water.