Big Paddle

This past Thursday Robin and i embarked on a 3 day sea kayaking trip that we have been trying to complete for a while. Lots of reason why. Anyways we finally got everything figured out to check this trip of the list. The plan was to paddle from Picton to Robin Hood Bay. A whole lot easier to type that than execute.

This route would take us up Tory Channel and out into Cook Straight (Or Raukawa) to make a right turn then head down the out down the outer edge of Port Underwood and then across Port Underwood to Robin Hood Bay. We would paddle a double and therefore have a heavy boat with food, clothing, a tent etc for the trip. In an earlier post in April last year we completed part of this trip from Robin Hod Bay up the outer edge to explore the amazingly big sea caves. We hope to complete the circuit this time from the other direction and see all of this super remote, very exposed to the weather and ocean. Not to mention paddling through the notoriously tricky and at times dangerous Tory Channel entrance to Cook Straight. See an earlier post about me and 2 co-guides paddling Cook Straight last March.

Day 1. We left Picton in the afternoon so we could take advantage of the out going tide. Once you are in Tory Channel the tides are huge and make a BIG difference. We paddled almost to the end of the channel and the entrance to Cook Straight and camped at an old Whaling Station. NZ was settled very early on (White folks that is, our indigenous people were already here) by missionaries and whalers (unlike Aussie, which were convicts… that explains a lot). We had a good nights rest and were kept company by a little blue penguin all night.

Day 2. We rose early on Friday morning to catch another outgoing tide into Cook Straight. High tide was 4am, so getting on the water @ 8am was perfect. We quickly made to the entrance. thankfully there were no ferries coming through as its a narrow passage with A LOT of water trying to get in our out. We made it through safely with the currents and tides running really fast. We snuck out of the tide and then followed the very dramatic coast coastline for the rest of the day. This was filled with seeing massive sea caves, crashing wave against the really steep sea cliffs, that made stopping an impossibility. There was quite a big 2m ground swell rolling out of the southern ocean. No crashing waves, as least 100m off shore, but close in, it made the experience even more memorable. However this same swell that was lifting our kayak up quite a bit was giving Robin a bit of sea sickness. We managed to find a stony beach… well not really and hit it hard in our fiberglass kayak. This break was good for the legs, before we carried on exploring the coast line.

We were still in waters that we hadn’t paddled before and enjoying the new scenery. We passed Fighting Bay which was where we turned around last time we were out there coming from the other direction (our take-out place later that day) Fighting Bay is also where big electric cables run under Cook Straight and provide the North Island with about 90% of its electricity. By now were were hungry for some lunch after snacking all morning and remembered a small beach about as long as our actual kayak to pull up on to. We stopped there on the last trip. We found it and got out and took in lunch for a few hrs enjoying the sun and the spring that was giving up much needed water. This is the only place you can get water on this entire coastline.

We left there and continued paddling realizing there was no where to camp, due to the cave and steeps walls and so decided to paddle all the way to Robin Hood Bay. This is where we launched from last year and knew we could make it there in good time.

As we paddled into Robin Hood Bay that same 2m ground swell was kicking up some decent waves onto the beach and we knew we would have to tackle them to make it to our destination. And a quick lesson in big, fully loaded with gear double sea kayaks… they don’t like crashing waves. Therefore after some quick instructions to Robin, which basically meant “I think we will be dumped out here by these waves.”

We were!

We shot down this beautiful wave (for a surf board) went sideways and flipped. Nothing could be done about it. We both wet exited out of the boat, got up, flipped the kayak back up and then made sure we were both ok and that we hadn’t lost anything. We got the now super heavy kayak up onto the shore, cockpits filled with water. But thankfully everything in the hatches and dry bags was just that…DRY. they did there job. By now we were laughing our heads off, and haven’t laughed that long in a while. It was definitely a new experience for Robin.

We set up camp and relaxed for the rest of the evening. Then next day i got out early ran 45mins on hilly roads to get my bike (previously stashed there 2 days ago in the bushes) to then ride 90mins to go and get our car in Picton and come back and get Robin & equip

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