New Zealand VII

Trip Start Oct 18, 2005
Trip End Dec 15, 2005

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Day 42: We left Renwick and headed for the Abel Tasman National Park. The Abel Tasman Tramp is one of the six Great Walks in New Zealand. We did the equivalent of the first day, and we saw many outstanding views of beaches and coastline. Jason even went for a quick swim on one of the beaches (the water is much warmer here than on the south part of the island. It was a good day to scout what was in store for the next day!

Day 43: Abel Tasman was quite appealing, so we decided to do one of the kayak tours we'd been hearing so much about. We chose the 18km "The Royale with Cheese" with Kaiteriteri Kayaksm, and we were lucky to get a Maori guide named Harold. He was really good at giving us the history of the area and told us many of the Maori philosophies, legends, and stories. It was pretty cool. He also made us fancy coffee and tea at the beaches when we stopped! There were six others in our group: Sebastian and Kathrin, a brother and sister from Germany; Sam, a Japanese-New Zealander dairy farmer and his girlfriend Angelica from Germany; Stuart, a backpacker from Scotland; and Masaki, a student from Japan. We even got to see a penguin swimming from the water taxi on our way to the start!

Now, 18km on a kayak in the open ocean is quite a long way to go, so the trip was to be broken into three parts with two beach stops. The first leg was quite easy on the calm sea during the nice sunny day. We stopped for lunch and coffee (including frothed milk) on a really great beach. Harold also showed us some traditional Maori instruments. The first was a conch shell bound to a wooden mouthpiece by a plant that holds the sand dunes together on the beach (combining earth and sea). The other was basically a flat board on a long string that he spun around and around. It sounded like a moths wings going really fast.

While we were sitting there enjoying our luxuries and playing our instruments, the wind started to pick up...and pick up...and pick up.

The fun started not too long after we had left the shelter of the lagoon when Sebastian and Kathrin got hit broadside by a wave and their kayak flipped. The rest of us were yelling to Harold that they had flipped when he shouted out, "S**T! Stop freaking out and get back to the beach!" Hearing that from your kayak guide is sort like hearing "Oops" from your dentist.

Well anyway, they managed to get back in their kayak, and Harold decided we should use the wind rather than fight it. He had us all get together and hold onto each other's kayak to form a sort of raft. Then we rigged up a sail using the boats to tie the front and using paddles to lift up the back. We took off! We were probably going about 12-15 knots in our kayaks! (That's pretty fast.)

During our second beach stop the wind calmed down quite a bit. We got together and sailed again, but it was much smoother the second time. As Harold chanted his prayer to the sea, we joined in at the end with a hearty "Taikie!"
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