Seakayaking Abel Tasman April 2021


After the Graperide I picked up Craig from Picton and we drove back to Nelson. We met Ellen in the evening and picked up the sea bear (a huge double kayak) with her. We drove slowly over to Motueka and stayed the night there with her and Annu who’d come across from Blenheim.


We left early-ish in great weather from Marahau after packing more than enough food and random stuff into the kayaks. We had the huge sea bear, my single sea kayak and another one from the club that I had rented. I kayaked with Annu in the sea bear and Craig and Ellen tried to keep up in the singles. We stopped at Watering Cove for a snack. Ellen had baked some delicious fruit bread yesterday and it was just what we needed. We swapped boats. It was all sunshine and lollipops. Continuing we kayaked around the coast and up to Mosquito Bay where we came ashore and set up our camp. We’d thrown out Craig’s tent at the last minute as I’d not been sure we’d had enough space. Amusingly we’d had a communication breakdown and Ellen had brought both her tents meaning we still had one each. Oh the luxury.


In the afternoon, at low tide, we went climbing around the island in the mouth of the bay. Then later on we went out again in the kayaks to watch the sunset. We paddled around the coast until we could look out towards Tonga Island. After bobbing around for a bit we returned to camp for dinner and bed.



We kayaked over to Tonga Island in the morning. There we found some baby seals playing in the water. Three or four came up to my boat and checked it out as I tried to film and fend myself off the rocks at the same time. Next we headed up to Shag Harbour. The seals were plentiful there too. The tide was on it’s way out but still full enough that we could kayak into the inlet. In the swift flowing current the seals swam and dived chasing fish.


We debated the idea of continuing to Awaroa but to save our arms we kayaked back to Onetahuti instead. Kayaks were dragged up the golden beach and we sat at a picnic table on the edge of the camp site and ate lunch. After having a nap on the beach we walked down to the other end of it and watched fish from the bridge. Then it was back into the kayaks and we headed back to camp.




Ellen left in the morning and kayaked around the corner to Bark Bay. This left Craig in charge of pancakes. To be fair we didn’t have the best equipment with just his extra-stick aluminium pan.


It was windy as we packed everything up. We set off towards Sandfly Bay. We kayaked up the river and then back out again and along the coast taking in Frenchman’s Bay as the water left the inlet. We continued stopping at Te Pukatea for lunch. The wind had dropped entirely. It looked like it might be raining further inland. We continued around the head land and across towards Marahau on completely still water. The tide was completely out and we landed well away from the road running out of water. It looked like an hour or more of hauling kayaks across the sand to the road but as we stood there one of the guys from the water taxis stopped and told us to throw our kayaks on the back. Awesome. We were very grateful.


Craig and I ferried the Sea Bear back to Ellen’s in Motueka and then came back to pick up the rental. We left Annu to ponder her evening and drove back to Nelson. A nice trip.



A weekend of things

On Saturday I rode a two stage Tasman Wheelers race. The first stage was a 30km graded scratch race that headed out over Rai Saddle.  I started in B grade and along with some of the older guys got dropped on the hilly bits. I just don’t have the legs to keep up with the young guys. We had a nice descent from the saddle. I tried to mash the pedals as I used to do quite well on the flat. It wasn’t awful but I didn’t feel like I was producing the power I’d have liked to. Before the finish line an A grader, Mike, caught up with a young B grader in tow (the only one I managed to drop). I sat on and sprinted at the finish.

I started with the young B grader for the return race. It was a handicap race back. We worked together well but I couldn’t keep up with him going up the saddle and dropped off the pace as he rode away with some others. A few more passed me until Mike caught up again riding like a mad thing. I jumped on and to my surprise managed to stay on his wheel. I was working hard to keep up. He got away a few times in the descent but I managed to get back on even taking some turns at the front.

Near the end it suddenly began to pour with rain and sweat and sunblock ran into my eyes making them sting. I could hardly see where I was going having to close my eyes every few seconds. There was water everywhere but I followed. Another turn at the front I think. Then we could see the front bunch before us. Mike caught them up and then sprinted past. I stayed on his wheel for a bit but then a gap opened up. Still we were in front of the bunch and I sprinted across the line behind him and another guy who had managed to get on Mike’s wheel. It was good fun.

Two stage Tasman Wheelers race

I headed back to Nelson, got sorted and drove to the Rai Valley where I met Finnish Annu. We left her car there and drove with mine to French Pass. We pitched our tents just before it started raining heavily. It cleared later and we made a simple pasta meal before heading down to the beach to chat and look at the sky, now full of stars.

The following day we had a nosey around French Bay before driving back to Elaine Bay. It was warm and sunny and by chance we found a guy renting out a double kayak. We took the opportunity and rolled the kayak down to the shore. We spent about 3 hours kayaking in the beautiful sounds with blue sky and mostly flat water. We stopped briefly at Deep Bay and then kayaked across to the Matai Bay hut. It looks like a nice little place to stay. We then battled into a head wind until we had shelter behind and island. It was a cruisy paddle back to Elaine Bay.

Then it was home to Nelson.

Annu kayaking (Sea Kayaking Elaine Bay March 2021)Good to be on the water (Sea Kayaking Elaine Bay March 2021)At Matai Bay Hut (Sea Kayaking Elaine Bay March 2021)Kayaking (Sea Kayaking Elaine Bay March 2021)

Above: Kayaking in the sounds from Elaine Bay.

Fiordland Dec 2020

Craig arrived in the evening on boxing day and I picked him up at the airport and the straight southern highway took us down to Geraldine. We continued through Tekapo and past Pukaki into the evening. We called it quits about midnight, camping on Chris and Emily’s lawn in Queenstown. They weren’t there at the time but I didn’t think they’d mind, perhaps their neighbours but not them.

Day 1

We continued driving to Lake Monowai in the morning. It’s on the outskirts of Fiordland National Park not so far from Manapouri. There were a bunch of boats and their trailors at the carpark at the hydrostation end of the lake. It took us a while to sort out all the stuff in my car but after some time we had our two kayaks packed with food, and tramping gear for a short trip. The kayaks were jammed full and we wondered whether we’d just sink to the bottom once on the water. With short breaks we carried them down to the water’s edge and got in. We had also crammed the cockpits full and even stuffed our tramping packs between our legs before pulling on our spray decks. A wet exit wouldn’t have been idle due to the increased difficulty to get out of the kayak with all the gear and the fact that all the gear would then be in the water too (and possibly sinking to the bottom).

It was warm and sunny and there were hardly any sandflies which made us wonder whether we were actually in Fiordland at all. We launched and began kayaking down the lake. A small headwind came up but then vanished again leaving flat water and perfect conditions for kayaking. We stopped for lunch on a little beach. The holds were large enough to store our lunch, dinner, and enough beer to keep Craig happy. After packing up we kayaked into the Rodger Inlet and checked out Rodger Inlet Hut, or at least huts. There’s a newer 12 bunk one and a smaller and older two bunk one. Despite the afternoon post-lunch laziness we decided to continue down the length of the lake to the very end. This took us a few more hours but was very pleasant even when the wind got up in the evening and gave us a bit of a push and some choppy water to contend with.

We got out of our kayaks at the end of the lake and started sorting out our gear and packing our tramping bags. The friendly boaty offered us a ride back out in case the weather turned bad. We carried the kayaks up into the bush and hid them and then we began walking up to Clarke A Frame Hut. It somehow looked closer on the map. The track was mostly well cut but there was a bit of windfall to contend with. We arrived at the hut just on dusk and I cooked dinner quickly and we drank a beer/cider that Craig had lugged up from the kayaks.

Day 2

The weather forecast for the following day made us think it’d be best to get back along the lake today. We retraced the track back down to Monowai Hut. We could see the wind starting to get up on the lake and once we were on the water it started to get a little rough. We spent a few hours paddling in the choppy water, bobbing around in the little kayaks. The wind came from in front of us and then to the side and finally we had a tail wind kayaking into Rodger Inlet Hut for the night. We had the last of the beer that Craig had packed in the sun while lazing at on the shore beside the lake.

Day 3

We left fairly early and kayaked the remainder of the lake back to the car park. The weather was fine and there was no issue moving across the water. We packed our crapage into the car and drove off to find cellphone coverage. After consulting with Gina on our life choices we headed back in towards the lake and up the Borland Road to the saddle. We packed for an overnighter and covered the kayaks on the car in case of rain. We were planning to walk into Green Lake Hut via the ridge from the saddle and to return via the track. We headed off up the ridge reaching the bush line quickly. We passed tarns as we walked through the tussock land. I navigated us with precision to the wrong saddle and we backtracked a bit before descending down towards the hut. My dodgy ankle that I rolled badly at the end of November wasn’t loving the rough ground. Craig moved more quickly and after a while we were both separated. I’d seen him off to the right and thought I’d wait for him to come around back towards the hut but he didn’t appear so after waiting for a while I walked down to the hut. After checking for mail in the letterbox by the lake (yes…) I unpacked my gear in the very tidy looking hut. Craig turned up shortly after. He’d been navigating from his 30 year old topo map. Apparently they’ve moved the hut from one end of the lake to the other in the last 30 years, a cunning trick.

We went for a quick dip in the lake and then cooked dinner. It was predicted to rain but hardly rained at all.

Day 4

The following day we walked out via the track past Island Lake. We piled everything back into the car and drove to Lake Manapouri. After a hamburger lunch we decided that the weather was stable and that we may as well go kayaking again. We loaded gear into the kayaks again and launched from Pearl Harbour with no Japanese in sight. We kayaked into Surprise Bay, just as Leonie and I had done 8 years earlier. The wind seemed to be coming up so we backtracked and portaged along the George Track portage. It was perhaps 200m of dragging our kayaks through the forest. Kind of funny. This cut off about 7km of kayaking. The weather was messing with us and the wind dropped again. We kayaked into the Hope Arm and dragged the kayaks up onto the beach under the trees. It was cool and overcast. The Hope Arm Hut is around 50m from the lakeshore and we carried our gear up into the old hut. Nobody else was there, which was becoming a theme for the trip.

Day 5

We kayaked out across a completely flat lake. I could see the reflection of the hills clearly in the lake water. It started to rain very slightly as we got out towards Mahara Island. We portaged the shorter section in Circle Cove back to Surprise Bay and kayaked back to the car in Pearl Harbour.

We drove to Te Anau from there and met Annu the Finn. The weather defied the forecast and it became hot and sunny. It was New Year’s Eve and we spent the evening hanging out with her and her friend’s as they consumed much alcohol. I was the sober driver and shortly after midnight I packed Craig into the car and we drove North towards Queenstown camping in a rest area beside Lake Wakatipu in the wee hours of the morning. It would probably have been more sensible to stay the night in Te Anau but we were keen to do some canyoning on New Year’s Day.

Day 6

We drove back towards Christchurch, sometimes in pouring rain, other times in sunshine and under blue skies. The forecast looked like it would put an end to our canyoning near Fairlie and we ended up driving all the way to Glen Tui to canyon there. We didn’t start until about 6pm. It was a very easy canyon with a few abseils and a couple of jumps. It was over shortly after it started but was good fun. We drove back to Christchurch in the evening and there ended our Fiordland trip. Well, I guess our Fiordland trip ended in Fiordland but whatever…