I have half an hour before I have to catch my bus to Queenstown, so I just wanted to let you know quickly about my awesome kayak on the Sound this morning.
For a start it was DRY. It was also a very atmospheric morning with slow clouds drifting through the valley, and patches of blue sky revealing themselves for tantalisingly brief moments – a morning made for optimists.
Our guide was incredibly lively and fun, given the early start (and that’s coming from me – probably the most annoying morning person most of you know!). We togged up in our sexy kayaking gear in a cloud of hungry sandflies, and set out onto the still water, black from the reflected granite. I was in a double boat with the guide again – result. I love going with the guides because a) you feel completely safe, b) you get air over any waves (this time from the cruise ships), c) you get an extra running commentary, and this guide was really good on his birdsong, so I filled in some gaps in my knowledge and d) you can pretend that you’re a really strong paddler – that is, until he stops paddling, and you grind to a feeble halt.
During the morning the clouds slowly inched upwards, as if the mountains were doing a very drawn-out strip-tease, and gradually the peaks behind were revealed one by one. By the end of the session the sky was turquoise above, with just a few wispy clouds still clinging to the highest peaks. Totally stunning.
I feel I’ve been incredibly lucky to see the Sound at both extremes of its weather conditions – from seriously heavy rain and myriad cascades of water to glorious sunlit clarity and stillness. It looked so different today – even after only one dry day most of the waterfalls had dried up – such an ever-changing landscape.
No time to write more, but just to say that I think I’ve now joined the ranks of those who will wax lyrical about how beautiful it is here. But I would say one thing – definitely explore it by kayak if you can. It feels way more fitting than chugging around in a huge boat with loads of people who are viewing the scenery twice removed; once from inside the dry cabin and again from behind their camera screen. Get out there and get wet I say!
Setting out into the misty morning.
The big reveal.
And finally, I have to share with you the ridiculous stripy attire that they made us wear – I’m sure they were taking the mickey – “How much like clowns do you think we can make our clients look, without them cottoning on?” I half expected them to hand out oversized shoes and a red nose too. By the way, the peak right in the distance is Mitre Peak – over 1600m high, the highest peak to rise straight from water (not sure if that’s in NZ or the world though!).
Right, off to Queenstown, home of adrenaline junkies. My adrenaline will be fired up by wondering whether I have time to sample all the different flavours of icecream and Fergburger in the time and budget that I have left. Eek, I can feel my pulse racing already!