180 Days on the road.
Today is a milestone, today was when a lot of people assumed I would be completed and many have smiled. For me it has always been about a 180 days of paddling. Today is a day of reflection; of what and where we have been, a trip down memory lane for me and the team to share with you all. I have so many special moments of everyone I have meet along the way but my oldish brain may very well fail me, so as not to miss any of you out on a detailed list I just want to send to every single person I have meet over the past 180 days the hugest thanks. You all are the reason I am where I am and the reason this journey has now become an odyssey. My thanks, my hugs and my smiles go out to you all.
On the 27th of October 2015 I left Takapuna Beach. I remember telling myself, "Red, it is just another training day."
Waiheke and Coromandel. Wow you were so very kind to me with warm, hot weather, beautiful bays and beaches. I had the overwhelming feeling of it's okay, we will look after you, enjoy.
Bay of Plenty, Gisborne. Here the journey gave me my first real taste of remote capes but I was guided along by a very special man on this paddling section and I can never thank him enough. The capes made me feel small but very special, I had tears in my eyes and down my checks when absorbing these places.
Mahunga, Mahia Peninsula, Wairoa, Hawkes Bay. What can I say, this section is where Mother Nature gave me a lesson in Respect. I enjoyed the magic of the dolphins and the sunshine, but I also learn that the bad Mother Nature days that are thrown my way come for a reason and a lesson or two were learnt.
1000km milestone at Porangahau. My first Paua of the trip and we met some really cool people who will be friends for ever along this section. Thelma retired and T2 joined us, Louise received her nickname - The White Witch.
Castlepoint, Flatpoint and the Wairarapa coastline. This is where the tough in me kicked in, I received a black eye and there were numerous days off the water, we had some moments. I dug deep on some days, we put faith into our weather forecast apps, learnt daily what the wind gusts on this coast could do and listened to the locals knowledge. I had many Caged Tiger moments.
Cape Palliser, Wellington and Cook Strait. We had night paddles to beat the weather, everybody shared their fears with me so I had to believe inside myself. I was missed by the early morning ferries and had a time limit set in place on waiting for a calm Strait crossing. On the 24th of December 2015, with much weather studying, I crossed the Cook Strait solo. I felt sick to the bottom of my stomach and I carried everyone's fear with me for those first four hours but it became my best Christmas Eve ever.
The South Island East Coast: Kaikoura, Christchurch, Dunedin, Bluff. Nat left for a month while Jase and Trish joined me. Dolphins everyday, on New Year's Day a three hour special. There were some dumping surf beaches, Banks Peninsula was so very beautiful and unexpected. There were so many hills poor Cuzzie had to negotiate. Dunedin was special, the sights and coast through the Catlins were again an unexpected delight. When arriving at Bluff I dared to look back and lift my head for a moment. Look back at where I had paddled from and where I was to go next.
Stewart Island. Now what can I say but this place will always be so very special to me. I have to thank everybody in Bluff, Invercargill and Stewart Island for your knowledge and support of this crazy lady in her red kayak! Without you all it would not have been possible or as memorable, I will return.
Fiordland. I took a moment to breathe, I dared again to look ahead. I knew then that Mother Nature was going to throw me a few curved weather balls and teach me a few lessons. Patience, solo life and a new meaning to faith. It was spectacular, I often found my mouth wide open at the coastline. There were a few sick feelings in the pit of my stomach at the intensity and wildness of this coastline, but, the people I have meet on this section, you all are so memorable and probably equal to or even more inspiring than the scenery. I will cherish these memories forever and you are all very much the reason I am smiling from the inside out. This place and the people will never be forgotten, I will return.
Jackson Bay. Nat, Cuzzie and the hot chips that I had dreamt of for weeks. Jase so proud of this crazy red head and the reason he has grey hairs, wrinkles and studies weather forecasts at every moment.
The West Coast: How quickly this new coastline has created an impact on me, already the Hector Dolphins have come out to play, this makes us all smile.
So today, 180 days. I wish I could share ALL the sights from my eyes, the smells, the food, the fantastic moments, the great, the good, the bad and the nasty with you all, it is down right incredible.
So dare to dream, be prepared to sacrifice and have faith.
I take a moment to reflect, just for a second, on my darkest day, the day my son's grenade exploded in my lap. That is when 'I' became the most important person and I dared to believe in my dream. I need to dedicate the past 180 days to him and I want to thank my son, without his chapter in my life, I would not be doing this.