Some wee boats..

In late 2005 we began to think about kayaks as being possible adventure tools, and went so far as to visit an expo where some were on display. We figured the best plan would be to try some out, and we heard that the Okarito lagoon was a great place to explore in such fashion. We arranged to rent a pair of Contour 450's - 4.5 metre solo sea kayaks. Sea kayaks interested us the most as they could tackle the open sea, and carry quite a lot of cargo in mostly waterproof holds. That would make camping a possibility.

January 2006 we made our trip, stayed in a great little cabin, and were ready to paddle early Saturday morning. We did not participate in a group tour, just hired the boats, and with some brief instructions, were on the water. Despite the ferocious sandflies, we had a brilliant time, forging our way up numerous little waterways, marvelling at the wildlife - and the way they ignored you if you remained quiet.

Black water boats. Fabulous place to explore by water.

We stayed out until the last possible moment, and were very much impressed with this new form of recreation. The other main option we had considered was a double or tandem kayak. These are considerably larger by necessity, but are also more stable because of that. We decided to take part in a group tour in the Abel Tasman national park, and opted to share a double.

March 2006 we headed up to Mairehau, and assembled with our group under the keen eye of our guide. Kate gave us some very specific instructions for the use of our boats, the best way to paddle them, and the best way to escape from them when upside down. I guess that's a good thing, seeing we had no idea about righting one if it did get inverted. We loaded up all sorts of stuff for our 3 days out, and proceeded to get in the water. These boats are BIG, and they carry a lot of gear. It took 4 of us to carry them to the water. Once in the water, they were a delight to paddle, and moved with an ease that belied their obvious weight - which now included us.!

Everything goes in the boats. Clothes to kitchen.

The Abel Tasman is an idyllic place, with perfect beaches and unspoilt native bush. Along with our fellow travellers, we had a brilliant time, and Kate astounded us with her skills both on land and in the water. She was up to any challenge. She was also a dab hand with everyone's camera, so we got quite a few photos of ourselves for the record.

Pretty big water - but the weather was kind..

We weighed it all up. With me being over 6 foot, the 4.5 metre Contours had been a bit cramped. The tandem was too big and heavy, and transporting it by vehicle would pose some problems. We discovered that the Contour was available as a 4.8 metre too. We tried those for size, and decided that was our best choice. We kept checking out a local shop who stocked them, and finally bought a pair of brand new Contour 480's, last year's colour, in the middle of winter, and saved ourselves a thousand dollars. We also got all the gear to go with them, spray skirts, paddles, flotation devices. I found some cheap roof racks on Trademe and we were cooking.

In no time we were off on trips with the kayaks safely aboard. They travelled really well - with the added advantage that they kept the sun out of our eyes due to the fact that they extended to the front of the vehicle.

Momorangi Motor Camp, Feb 2007.

While the Marlborough sounds gave us some of our most beautiful water to explore, we have been to places all over the south island. From the Avon river to the Estuary to Lyttelton Harbour. Duvauchelle to French Farm. Kaiteri to Totaranui and the Wairoa river at the far north of the West coast. All of these places are ideally suited for kayaks, and their shallow draft allows access to places where no other water craft can get. We took them down to Wanaka, and then Lake Benmore on the way home. Every place had some new feature that made it special. We still use the boats at every opportunity, and it is still a big thrill to get out on the water and explore. I will simply place photos here of the various trips and places that were most special. Come back and have a look again - they will be updated as time goes by.

Lyttelton Harbour, 2006

Marlborough Sounds, 2007

Marlborough Sounds, 2007

Wainui Inlet, 2007

Wairoa River, 2007

Onawe Peninsula, 2008

Wanaka, 2009

Port Lyttelton, 2010

Port Underwood, 2011

Abel Tasman, 2012

Tuna Bay, 2015

Tennyson Inlet, 2015

Tata Beach lagoon, 2017

Ligar Bay, 2017

Tarakohe Wharf, 2017

Ligar Bay, 2017

Clifton Lagoon, 2017

Clifton Lagoon, 2017

Cool as. You really should try it...