Well, I can now kick sea kayaking off my list of things I’m scared of – I LOVED it! I am now sitting nursing a well-earned beer (the first time I’ve drank alcohol in two weeks, I can feel my cheeks starting to tingle already) and a mountain of food back in the Nelson hostel after an AMAZING three days kayaking in the ridiculously beautiful Abel Tasman National Park. I feel rather a lot of CAPITALISATION to accentuate the BRILLIANCE of the trip coming on, apologies…
I’ll get the bad news out of the way first – I think I’ve left my camera at the kayaking office. It was too late to ring by the time I noticed its absence, so I’m trying to be zen about it tonight and ring first thing tomorrow – I’m thinking lots of positive thoughts, and hoping it will be there waiting to be reunited with me. So no more on that now (except I can’t amaze you with my photos just yet – see, positive…).
So now onto the good stuff… Well I certainly experienced the full range of kayaking conditions. Day 1 and day 3 were unbelievably perfect – just like all the brochures. Clear, turquoise sea with lazily lapping waves, golden sandy coves, seals lounging on boulders, looking like they weren’t moving for anyone, occasionally waving a casual flipper at you, tuis and bellbirds singing to you from the rainforest clad slopes, stingrays wafting through the shallows, gannets plummeting for fish all around, calm, shady lagoons, and we even saw a group of the rare little blue penguin (that is its actual, very literal name) – the world’s smallest penguin, and not a common spot.
Day 2 on the other hand was ‘gnarly’, according to our guide. He said the swell was the biggest he’d ever taken people out on, and we even had a capsize in our group (my ultimate fear), despite the guide telling us it ‘never’ happened, but luckily not to me. I was fortuitously in a kayak with the guide on that day (they were 2-man kayaks) and so I had a great day. He was a bit of a nutter (as you’d imagine) and took great pleasure in us getting as much air over the waves as possible, and surfing the biggest waves back into the shore. I felt safe in his very able hands and really enjoyed the adrenaline-fuelled ride – his confidence and enjoyment were infectious. I did feel rather sorry for the other four people in the group, who were all beginners, and really struggled to enjoy the day. But, hey, there have to be some perks to being the single traveller, huh?!
I slept out in the park both nights, which was wonderful. I spent the first night in one of the National Park huts, which was brilliant. It was very basic, and I hired cooking and sleeping equipment for the night, but there was a lovely atmosphere of ‘mucking in’ amongst the group, and good joviality around the wood-burning stove. It was also a beautiful clear night for star-gazing – I saw so many shooting stars in the crowded southern hemisphere sky, crowned by the swathe of the Milky Way.
I spent the second night on the ‘Aquapackers’ boat. It sleeps 20 and is incredibly well-provisioned: hot showers, stove, BBQ, and of course the complimentary lulling to sleep by the restless ocean. In the morning I rose for sunrise and did yoga on the top deck – balancing was tricky! WHEN I get my camera back, I will share my most novel yogacam yet with you… 🙂
The only downside of the whole trip were the irritating sandflies – I now have polka-dot legs. But still, even that was a mere ripple in an otherwise idyllic millpond of happiness. Being out with nature and away from civilisation for three days was the best therapy I could ever wish for, although not great therapy for my dorm room-mates when I arrived back this evening – slightly humming… That hot shower felt AMAZING (final capitalisation).
Anyway, once again I am completely knackered, and drivelling, so will stop. Off to Kaikoura tomorrow (marine-wildlife-central) for swimming with dolphins (one of my ambitions in life), so news of that very soon…