Day 432...Is It The Finish

Saturday 31 December 2016

As like every other paddle day this one was no different. The early start, the hugs goodbye, the checking of gear; but there was a small difference, we all tried hard not to think about the fact that it was my last day of paddling. I was to see them all again 40km later at the Takapuna boat ramp, which I left 432 days ago. Wow! Really? I cannot quite believe it.

The final paddle was to be a perfect weather gift from Mother Nature, I could not have asked or dreamed of any better conditions for this day. Off I head, concentrating on my paddling and also mindful of my timings so as not to be late to my checkpoints, or my final destination. The rest of the time I spent just being blown away by the calm tranquil waters, the sunrise and the early morning boaties heading off to their early morning fish spots.

Then came the sight I was not ready for. Seeing Rangitoto, it brought me back to reality and the thoughts that I had been trying to push away. I could not pretend anymore that this was just another paddling day. My ability of trying not to think too much had stopped working and the reality of this exact moment will stay with me. It will take a few days for me to really try and fully explain the last few kilometers, but at the moment the best thing to say is that it was such a special way to spend this section of my paddle; with a group of special supportive people. It was so totally wonderful.

As I rounded the corner the entire boat ramp was covered with people, all to welcome me home. I am so happy to be at the end of this journey, but I am also sad. Sad not to be still seeing new places and people and also knowing things will have changed, just like me. I was asked how I felt, and the answer is: "truly fantastic" and I just have to smile. The best thing is that this smile comes from inside. I am asked how have I changed. I have learnt true patience(!) and that we live in, and are surrounded by, an amazing country and incredible people. Truly, I have fallen in love with this country's Kiwi Spirits.

On land I was not able to say hi and hug everyone, but I have to say a big thanks to you all for coming to welcome me. If I did not personally see you, then I now say it to you. Big hugs, huge thanks, and over the next few days I will get around to my thanks, as well as my final thoughts on the North Island and on this epic odyssey. Thank you all for your kind words, your support and for just believing in me. I cannot say that enough, and I truly mean it.

I am now in a small but very busy little campsite for New Year's Eve. No, I could not go directly home, I needed to just sit for awhile on the sand at a favourite beach and gradually unwind. Once I got loaded we jumped in Cuzzie and headed off to the beach. Right now as I sit I am struggling to stay awake and will never make it to midnight. Outside the fireworks have started in anticipation of 2017 arriving.

My smiles today:
Mother Nature and the wonderful day.
The special people in my life, their support has been incredible.
To all the new friends. You have made this odyssey.
All the messages and phone calls.
The start and end of today.
My special blessings on the water today.
Perfect picture book ending.

My thoughts today:
"In the end, she became more than what she expected. She became the journey, and like all journeys she did not end. She just simply changed directions and kept going." - Robert M. Drake (Thank you Margaret Ann.)

 I will continue to post for a little while longer so, until the next blog. Goodnight from Red. I am missing it already.

Ma Te Wa.


One last early morning launch.

One last early morning launch.

An amazing welcome.

An amazing welcome.