Day 296...Picton

A wonderful sleep. I wake before my alarm as per normal and just lie in my little bed; warm, dry and cozy in the lovely little room in this cute cottage. I am smiling, but I still have a few hours of paddling to do this morning and need to be well down the Tory Channel before the tide turns at 8am. As I pull on my many layers of clothing I drink a coffee and munch on some food for breakfast. I am ready well before my scheduled departure so I sit by the heater and just close my eyes reliving my paddle of yesterday. The great moments and the ever changing sights and coastlines.

Soon enough it was time to take my gear down to Louise and load her for this morning's paddle. With my head torch on and bag of gear over my shoulder I say goodbye to the gorgeous white horse standing outside the cottage. I pack my gear and send my tracking message off. Then I wander up to the house to say my goodbyes and the biggest thank-you. I had also forgotten my homemade biscuits that they gave me last night. At 6am I am on the water for my final short paddle of 26km into Waikawa Bay and then for a little slice of luxury, I get to catch the ferry back to Wellington. There is no need in my brain to do a second crossing. I am not keen on doing things twice!

I munch on a biscuit as I start today and then hear a voice from the beach saying goodbye. Antonia, big hugs to you. I will be back to go diving with you both. I also got a message later saying that I paddled out with the southern cross shining brilliantly above me. Perfect for sure. Paddling down the channel in the dark for the first hour was okay. I kept close to the sides, away from the wind and any ferries or fishing boats. That turned out to be a great idea as the first ferry raced down the centre before I heard any noise. Then the channel had a constant stream of small, large and very large boats whizzing off to go fishing and enjoy the day on the water. This is a beautiful location and I was glad in away that it was a slow paddle. I had time to hug the banks, to look at every bay and all the cottages tucked away in the bays (where the only access was to be by boat). I actually could imagine having our boat down here and being able to head off for a dive or fish at a moments notice, and explore every finger of these sounds! I liked what I saw as I headed into my final boat ramp at Waikawa; seals sunning themselves on rocks and on the unused wharfs, but no dolphins! What a shame, now I will have to head back to find them on another trip south. See, I have already found a reason to return.

The wind was in my face for these 4 hours whenever I tried to head from point to point, so I just made a point of discovering lots. I knew Jase was still driving from French Pass, he had fallen in love with this location and stayed there all of yesterday monitoring my progress, as with great views, Internet and mobile coverage, there was no reason to move. I do not blame him, that too, is a slice of paradise. I eventually get to my boat ramp destination 4 hours and 26km later. I chat to a lady standing in her boat waiting for the engines to start, but alas they do not get going so their boating trip is cancelled.

Cuzzie and Jase arrive with big hugs and high fives. Then we load up and head into Picton to eat and sit in the sun. We get the booking sorted for the 10.30pm ferry crossing. The hugest thank-you to the Inter-Islander. We spend the day walking, just talking in the sunshine after the most scrumptious steak lunch. It was nice to be in the sunshine for the entire day. I got clothes cleaned and dry and also threw my very laddered and over worn South Island black woollen leggings in the rubbish bin. The support crew took a picture of me dumping them in the rubbish bin. I have two others to ruin on the next leg of this journey.

Tonight we sit looking at the harbour lights, cook dinner with Cuzzie's sliding door wide open, and pour a glass of red wine, to toast Red finishing the South Island. We jump on the ferry. It is 8 months since I was last in the North Island. I am taking a couple of days away from my kayaking and refocusing next week. It is a few days of me time. Jase is removing his South Island beard. At least until he decides he did like the furry face.

My smiles today:
Paddling Tory Channel. 
Your lovely comments on Facebook. Thank-you. 
Coconut ice cream in the sunshine.
The entire day was superb.
Generous caring people.

My thoughts today:
"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." - Dalai Lama

Until tomorrow. Goodnight from the South Island from Red, Jase, Cuzzie and Louise.
Ma Te Wa.

Hitching a ride.

Hitching a ride.

Dinner in Picton Harbour.

Dinner in Picton Harbour.