DAY 325...Taranaki Here I Come

What a thrill to be paddling today on the West Coast, to have a smooth launch off the Whanganui boat ramp and then head out of the river mouth and onto the ocean with not a wave in sight. As I headed out, so did a small orange motorboat with a couple of guys out for a spot of fishing on this wonderful morning and I got the New Zealand man head-nod as they sped past. Looking up, I saw the sun appearing through the clouds almost unable to believe that, all of a sudden, it could be so calm again.

Saying another “thank you” to whoever happened to be listening, I marvelled at the intense and impressive cliffs running the length of this coastline. Checkpoints came and went smoothly today, with Anna taking control of working the VHF radio with consummate ease. Cuzzie was parked up high and could easily be seen by me, as was the pink shirt worn by Anna on the beach. In fact, so smoothly did everything go today that, at one stage, I actually thought about doing a few extra kilometres in addition to the relatively short 35 km. paddle. But then I reminded myself that a well-executed and completed plan is always a better idea. After all, well do I know what it’s like when I try to push onto a beach about which I have no information and crash-land in a disastrous way! As I keep telling myself, what is the point of writing out a plan and then turning what could have been a great day into a total nightmare?

As per normal, there was a moment of thinking that the paddle was going okay and then Mother Nature tried to throw me by chucking in a few breaking swells, making me quickly paddle out further as I pass Wainui Beach. The last 12kms to Waipipi Beach was somewhat contradictory; a swell to the left, a current heading south, me heading north and a wind not sure where it was wanting to blow. Then, having got my final brief from the beach from Anna and locked down all my gear, I started counting waves. Three big swells, then calm out the back and that was the cue to paddle, paddle, paddle. Oh, and now, I’ve been given the ultimate prize, winning the dunce’s cap for today's landing! Don't get me wrong, it was another dry landing, but I was thinking I was helping Anna by shouting over the waves as I rushed towards her. I was trying to say “Grab the front of the kayak!” But, out of my mouth, came "Grab the back!". No wonder Anna was looking at me in shocked disbelief! "Grab the back!" What the heck? I’m still not sure why, or what got my tongue and turned my instructions the wrong way round but, really Red, sometimes you are truly and totally not worth listening to!!! Maybe a lack of water? Dehydration? (Anna did ask if she should let Andy and Jase know. Ummm, no. Please don't tell them!) As I got out of my kayak, the words echoed in my head, “poor Anna!” I cussed myself and said “sorry” for yelling the exact opposite of what I actually meant to say. Do I dare say that it seems to be a girl thing I suffer from? Or maybe a brain fade. 

Anyway, thank goodness we were able to laugh about it afterwards, as we carried Louise up the hill to Cuzzie, doing the normal unload and putting her back up on the roof rack. We also stopped to talk to two lovely people, Mark and Ann, rock fanatics who were off to hunt for fossils on the beach below, as well as in the caves. In what seemed like an incredibly short time, we were able to discover an awful lot about each other. I love learning about others and hearing about their fascinating lives. As I have said in the past, everyone has a story to tell and those two were no exception, with a particularly interesting history.

Then it was up the hill into the quaintest little campsite with fees to be paid at the Waverley Library. Somewhat strangely, we had to call the library for the codes for the door locks on the showers and kitchen. Tonight, we are the sole occupants of the entire grounds where we are protected from the wind by the trees and enjoying this very special location. Officially, we are now in Taranaki.

A late lunch, with a huge hot pot of popcorn. I was enjoying it so much that, when I went to step over the low table we had erected in Cuzzie, I tripped and sent half the popcorn flying over the floor and seats. All Anna could do was fall about laughing. Then I had to try to scoop up all the mess, my share now being a little gritty from a coating of black sand! You get what you deserve, I always say!!

This afternoon I worked on e-mails and a blurb about my journey to date. A brief overview of 325 days and what I’m trying to achieve; what message I started out to deliver. Here, I have to say a huge “thanks” to Anna who is another wiz on the laptop. She has a degree in tourism and I’m so lucky to have her on-board with me. But now, dinner and a hot shower are calling and a satisfied team sit in Cuzzie, blog-writing and reading books. Thanks for a lovely welcome to Taranaki. The weather for my paddle today was absolutely stunning!

My smiles today:
The mouth of the Whanganui River was incredibly calm today, as was the ocean.
Me and my irrational brain!
Anna laughing hysterically at me and my antics.
Another dry landing!

My thoughts today:
Smile at a stranger and you may just change someone’s life.

Goodnight from Red, Anna, Cuzzie and Louise. Ma Te Wa.

The incredible cliffs at Waipipi Beach.

The incredible cliffs at Waipipi Beach.