Customer Service in New Zealand

After receiving a new credit card I thought I would do a little experiment and see how long and how easy it would be to have my new details updated with a number of suppliers.

Here are the results showing the total call duration including ringing and staying on hold.

Company Duration
IAG 30 seconds
Sovereign 2 minutes
Orcon 9 minutes 18 seconds
Mercury Energy 10 minutes
Vodafone 4 minutes


My ASB account manager updated IAG so that was cheating.

Full credit to Sovereign as they were the fastest.

Vodafone was the most annoying with 2 minutes spent on hold and talking to a person and 2 minutes entering my credit card number through an automated system.

 

Kayak Whananaki 2008

Labour weekend, the first long weekend since Queen’s Birthday back in June! After a quick bite at the Hikurangi pub on the Friday night it wasn’t much further to the camping ground at Whananaki North and it was straight into the relaxation.

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful clear day at least at first. We set off from the boat ramp, out of the estuary being almost sucked out with the tide and we were off up the coast. The easterly swell presented us with a somewhat up and down ride on our journey north which made rock gardening not an option.

Bridge between Whananaki North and South

We managed to get into Otamure Bay for lunch but as the wind was picking up half the group stayed behind. Nick returned to his car on foot and car pooled people back to get their cars. The rest of us headed back on the water.

Whananaki EstuaryIt was a reasonable fast trip although we did pause and climb the head at the entrance to Whananaki to check out the conditions. We continued around the head and into the estuary fighting for every inch into the wind. It was all worth it as it made the beer taste even better.

Sunday the weather was up to we drove north to Whangaruru harbour and explored the sheltered waters. Nick had a plan that we could check out an old whaling station but that turned out to be 20kms away.

A coastguard search and rescue keep us entertained on the VHFs. The afternoon was spent chilling out after stopping off at the cafe on the hill above Helena Bay.

Camping at Whananaki

For the Monday everyone did their own thing with some returning early to do chores so spend the day surfing on the bar. Since I was driving a few of us headed to the Tutakaka Coast. We put in at Matarangi and rock gardened our way around to Whale Bay. It’s only a short trip but we made the most of it before making our way back down to Auckland.

Rock gardening between Matapouri and Whale Bay 

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Weekend in Zeeland

I'm not sure why its taken so long to visit the province of Zeeland after all it is where New Zealand got its name although it wasn't Abel Tasman's doing. He named it Staten Landt (Staten Island). At the same time Hendrik Brouwer on a mission to the gold-rich lands of Peru and Chile ended up naming a bit of land he found Staten Landt. Of course you can't have two places with the same name so upon their arrival back in Holland the powers that be in gave New Zealand its name "Zelandia Nova" to match its neighbour Hollandia Nova (aka. Australia).

Anyway, enough with the history lesson. We set off on the Friday night as we had yet another wedding to attend this time in Rotterdam. This time the wedding of Renate's cousin Annemieke and her groom Mark so it was a good chance for me to meet a few more of Renate's family.

P1130977Saturday morning we awoke after the late night and drove past Rotterdam's Europort on our way south. The Europort is Europe's largest shipping port taking up the space of a small city the size of Hamilton. Motorways, rail and canals help move the goods through the port as quickly as possible. It's a crazy and weird looking place straight from a Dr Who episode or perhaps a Terminator movie.

After clearing the city we hugged the coast hopping between the different Islands of Zeeland and crossing the Delta works protecting the Netherlands from flooding the country in severe storms. As a result of the devastating flood of 1953 the Delta Works project was created. It's basically a series of dams that open and close providing protection during bad weather.

Antony, Renate, Corine & Hubert in Veere

We then met Hubert and Corine in Veere for a spot of lunch before making our way to the hotel in Westkapelle. No sea view as they like to build their hotels and houses behind the dunes to protect them from the wind and sea but it did have a pool which we quickly made use of. That night we headed into Middelburg (another nice old town) where we dined in the main square.

 Hubert, Antony, Renate & Corine dining in Middelburg

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Sunday was spent walking along the beach at Domburg taking in as much fresh air as our lungs could muster. Unlike New Zealand beaches the Europeans often line their coast with little houses for rent so you can go in for a tea or coffee if the weather is cold.

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Gorinchem and Slot Loevestein

Dion and Anna (friends from England) were recently visiting so we decided to checkout another cute little Dutch village Gorinchem and the nearby Slot Loevestein. Created as a finish village almost 1000 years ago now days its a harbour for pleasure craft.

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The Dutch tend to use the term castle to represent an old Mansion so they call a Castle a Fort (ie, Fort Loevestein). With that out the way Slot Loevestein is situated in the top of the Y where two rivers meet (the Waal and the Maas). This made it the perfect position to toll everyone using the rivers. It also happens to be the corner of three Dutch provinces.

During its history is has also been a prison housing political prisoners.  The most famous was Hugo de Groot who escaped in a book chest and formed the basis of International law as we know it today. It can’t have been such as bad place as they appeared to be treated well having plenty of freedom. Their wives could stay and they have maids.

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Emily - Real or not?

Movie’s like Jurassic Park were once at the fore front of computer animation but you could still see the subtle effects that indicated it was computer generated. With human faces the job becomes far more difficult as we see and interact with people every day.

Californian company Image Metrics has further blurred the lines between what is real and what is not. Check it out for yourself.

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Steppen in Delft

We started the day by surprising Marcel as it was his birthday a few days later. Jorien made appelgebak (Apple tart) complete with candles and we gifted him his first BBQ. We also decorated his convertible car with a few balloons that lasted surprising well whilst achieving a top speed or over 120kmph an hour or so later.

A "Step" is one of those things that until I had been to Holland I wouldn't have even suspected to exist. They're a cross between a traditional scooter and a bike. Loads of fun they have a practical use as well. Almost every kid in Holland is able to step before biking! In the hospital where Renate works they use them to get from one side of the hospital to the other rather than having to walk for 10 minutes. Perhaps Renate can introduce them to Auckland Hospital next year?

We decided on a tour where we could see the city sites by steppen our way around Delft taking in all the important sites and completing a puzzle at the same time. Delft is the Dutch town famous for the white and blue pottery that goes by the name of Delft's Blue.

Antony, Reate, Maarten, Marcel, Jorien and Marja Steppen in Delft

The main highlight of the tour was the Nieuw Kerk (New Church) in the city centre with its high tower standing over the main square. Of course it begged us to ascend its heights so we spent a while exploring its passages. As is happens this is also the home to all the most important people of Dutch history including the various Kings, Queens and Hugo de Groot (Hugo the Great). There was even a space for the current Queen Beatrix to join her husband when she passes.

That evening we headed back to Marcel's place to try out the new BBQ.

Marcel's new BBQ

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Paleis Het Loo (Palace Het Loo)

Not the most sophisticated of names if you translate directly to English. Until the death of Queen Wilhelmina in 1962, Paleis Het Loo was a holiday retreat for the Dutch royals. She had decreed that upon her death the palace should be gifted the the public and became a museum.

P1120920At the entrance stood the Oranjeboom (Orange Tree) which symbolises the royal house of Orange. In New Zealand you'll find Oranjeboom at your local liquor wholesaler as its also a Dutch beer.

Inside the palace seemed a bit different to those across Europe and the United Kingdom. It felt brighter somehow and every room had quite a different feel so we started giving them nick names, the green room, the pink room...  Of course there were all the usual rooms for the King, Queen, chapels etc but there were also a large number of speciality rooms including a room full of animal heads. Cheetah, Bear and Badger rugs complete with heads looked immaculate and Elephant feet stood either side of the fireplace. This isn't my cup of tea however it certainly showed the power and wealth of the royals.

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Outside, the gardens unfolded in front of the palace with a huge number of species interwoven with fountains, canals and water falls. What surprised me was that there were a number of plants from warmer climates I didn't expect to see. There were also a huge number of what we would categorise as weeds in New Zealand but they all had their place so it in no way did it look scruffy.

When checking the location of the Palace in Apeldoorn we used Google Maps and the gardens of Palace Het Loo could clearly be seen.

The palace is definitely worth a visit and if you have to compare it to something Hampton Court Palace just outside of London comes first to mind.

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Mum and Dad in Holland

Shortly before my original arrival time my parents were due to arrive in Amsterdam. Unfamiliar with the new surroundings Renate and her sister Marja met my parents and helped them to their hotel. They didn't go into the sex museum or wander the red light district but still, they saw as much of Amsterdam in the short time they had available.

A couple of days later Renate and I picked them up and took them on a bit of a tiki tour through some of the smaller picturesque villages. First of all it was Marken, a cute little fishing village on an island connected by a road to the mainland. All the buildings have been maintained beautifully and one old man (with a squeaky voice) lets you visit his house that he still lives in. The contents of which are original including clothes from when he was a boy and its amazing to see how a family of four lived there.

Mum & Dad in Volendam

We then headed north a bit further to another fishing village Volendam where we had a spot of lunch and another look around before taking in Edam where the cheese gets its name (of course we couldn't go past without buying some). Whilst in Edam were able to witness the engineering marvels of the Dutch. With no electronics a lone man was able to pull a chain opening a bridge to allow yachts up the canal. Once safely past he walked up the bridge and his weight bought the bridge safely and smoothly back to its original position.

Further north we arrived at yet another seaside village by the name of Hoorn. It was new to us all as Renate and I had never ventured here. Larger than both Volendam and Marken it was  lot more modern as with all the yachts and smart cafes but still plenty of character with the older buildings leaning into the road. Time was pressing on so we headed straight over the IJsselmeer (the once sea turning into lake by the Dutch) to Wijhe where our parents would finally meet.

Mum & Dad meet Wim & Almah

Everyone had a great time and Renate's mother once nervous felt it easier to understand my parents clearer accents. We had a lovely meal and let them get to know each other without us having to hold their hands. Dad and Wim were even whistling the same tunes in the car. Wim and Almah (Renate's parents) showed them around a bit more and had even organised a personal tour of the local Windmill.

A couple of days later we took over the responsibilities and dragged them back to Nijmegen to see where we live and that evening we made them bike into town to go out for dinner.

Thanks Wim for letting us show mum and dad around in your nice air conditioned Espace in the 30 degree heat.

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Off to the European summer residence

Despite the best efforts of the weather and the ground services at Shanghai I've finally made it back to Holland.

After a busy week I was lucky to have the Saturday to pack and tidy before my flight. My colleague Murray was kind enough to pick me up and take me to the airport in plenty of time. It was a speedy trip through security and into the bar where all the Kiwi's and Aussie's were gathering to watch the imminent rugby test match. After 15 minutes the Aussie's looked dominant so I had no issue when we had our boarding call.

That morning I had warned Renate that the eye of the "One in 10 year" storm was bearing down on the country and would hit just before my flight. Was I mistaken? All flights were departing on schedule without delay. That was until 5 minutes before our flight was due to leave when all flights were grounded to wait it out. Either that or the pilots wanted to see the end of the rugby match and post-match commentary.

During the wait I got to know my travel companions of which one was a Dutch guy named Maarten heading back to Holland for 6 weeks after working, living, playing rugby and drinking lots of beer in Tapanui for 10 months. We travelled together for the rest of the trip.

After a bite to eat, a couple of movies and some broken sleep we arrived in Shanghai 2hrs late with 45 minutes to catch the connecting flight. In their wisdom the authorities have taken a leaf out of the United States' book on "How to disrupt the travel plans of millions?". Shanghai is the only port in Asia that makes you collect your baggage and re-check it in.

After clearing customs the officer gave some other guy my passport and I was told to follow him. The problem was there were 3 guys. Luckily I followed the right one heading for a bunch of other kiwis where we waited for them to do something with our passports. Perhaps a temporary visa for our so-called stopover?

Next it was on to collect our luggage where  we waited patiently for over an hour as the bags were drip fed onto the carousel one at a time. It was like all the baggage handlers were relocated to Beijing for the Olympics whilst one guy was walking between the plane and carousel carrying one bag at a time.

After picking up our bags we then headed for Terminal 1 where we needed to check in. Following the signs we came to a dead end with a number of large roller doors locked down tight. We weren't the only ones as people were poking and prodding them trying to find a way through. Some just driving their trolleys around in circles. Deciding this wasn't going to work we back tracked and took side passage going against the recommended arrows on the floor until we finally made it although there was one last obstacle, an escalator. Unlike some of the other passengers we opted to leave our trolleys at the bottom.

Another hour queuing and we made it to the check-in counter where Maarten spent another half an hour trying to convince the 4 people behind the counter that his ticket was an old, the dates had changed and he was to pick the new one up in Shanghai. Luckily the nice steward on the Air New Zealand flight foresaw out predicament and rebooked us whilst we were still in the air. We finally had our boarding passes and with some time to spare to popped in for a bite to eat and a well deserved beer.

Overall the the process of getting from check in onto the plane was somewhat long winded and of course there was a queue at every point:

  • Check in
  • Post check in passport scan before leaving the check in area
  • Pre security boarding pass check
  • Scan boarding pass then have bags x-rayed
  • Go through customs (after this you are free for a bit)
  • Security check at the gate
  • Boarding pass check going into air bridge
  • Check half way down the air bridge
  • Seating check as you enter the plane

Don't get me wrong I'm not complaining just highlighting the different experiences. Lesson learned, avoid Shanghai if you are flying through Asia and not stopping over on the way to Europe. The most annoying part was that my Vodafone mobile wasn't working. I wasn't able to contact Renate to let her know I would be delayed and the new flight details.

 

Winter Kayaking at Sandpit

The weather forecast didn't look great but it was my last weekend before heading off to Holland and we all know how the weather can change for better or worse. Fri evening I arrived just in time to see the group paddling back across the water (bugger, I was too late for the evening paddle).

We stayed at the Sandspit Holiday Park in little cabins right on the waters edge so as well as providing great views of the harbour they also offered us a place we leave our kayaks when we were off the water. Oozing with character the motor camp contained many of the old buildings from years gone by including the old post office and school masters house which were both cabins.

Saturday morning we headed around to the Matakana Village Farmers' Market which turned out to have a great selection of food and live music. Shame we had already brought all the food with us otherwise we would have had all sorts of goodies for the rest of the weekend and I didn't want to stock up before heading overseas.

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Constantly monitoring the weather we decided to head out after lunch and it turned out to be a pleasant day sheltered from the wind. We headed out of the harbour and headed east for about 10kms making it to Jones' Bay. After a quick look we turned back making sure we would be back before dark. All in all we were on the water for about three hours. Upon arrival the tide had come in just enough that we were able to paddle almost all the way back to the camp across what at low tide is 500 metres of mud.

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That night we had planned to have a BBQ but after seeing that it had fallen into disrepair over the winter months we opted to cook indoors and spent the rest of the evening discussing war stories over a few wines.

In the morning a few of us decided to stick around and head up the Matakana River into deep dark Matakana. We had a the wind and tide against us so it took about an hour and a half to make the 5km journey. Upon arrival we found a cafe and had a bite to eat and a coffee before making a return trip in about 40 minutes.

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Kayak Lake Tarawera (Queen's Birthday)

Day 1 - Tarawera Landing to Te Rata Bay

Kayaks ready to go to Tarawera Landing

It was a cold and misty morning but we didn't care (except maybe for Nick). We packed our kayaks with relative ease as the car park allowed us to unload our cars directly into the kayaks before we ferried them back to the Blue Lake Motor Camp. After the usual period of faffing we were off some splitting off to kayak under the Pohutakawa trees and explore the rock gardens and thermal springs.

Scott navigates the rock garden

After only a short paddle we were at Te Rata Bay (aka Hot Water Bea ch) and in no time had picked out our camping spots and eaten lunch. It was then off to explore Rapatu Bay and walk across to Lake Rotomahana (to be explored at a later date) which turned out to be about 40 minutes return. This section between the lakes is where the Pink and White Terraces used to be before the eruption in 1886.

The last time I stayed here we setup the tent on the nice warm grass and ended up having to leave the tent sweating at 3am. I wasn't about to make the same mistake this time.

Day 2 - Tarawera Falls

Te Rata Bay (aka Hot Water Beach)

Another calm morning presented itself and it took about 2hrs to make our way from Hot Water Beach to the Tarawera Outlet where we swapped our booties for shoes. Most of us headed into the bush in search of the Tarawera Falls.

The track was beautiful a combination of alpine plants and forest along the crystal clear waters of the Tarawera river. We found it (or so we thought), tucked into a corner of the river was a large raging waterfall emptying into pool below spraying the area with mist. Surprisingly we carried on and found a few places where the river disappeared into the ground and moving on a little further we could hear the river raging underground.

The falls before Tarawera Falls

Finally we made it to the main attraction, the Tarawera Falls which weren't too shabby. In the middle of a tall cliff face three holes expelled vast quantities of unrelenting water. The cliff face contains lave tunnels from Tarawera eruption so the river makes its way underground and out at the falls. By this time we were all hungry so we made our way back to the lake.

Tarawera Falls

Back at the lake the temperature had dropped so those that didn't walk headed back to base whilst the rest of us had lunch and tucked into Bridget's piklets. It was getting late so we hightailed it out of there and headed back to camp before dark.

That night we popped around the corner from the camp site in our kayaks and visited another hot pool. This time the water temperature wasn't so scolding and enabled us to enjoy a wine or beer while some played hide-the-glostick.

Soaking in the hot pool

Day 3 - Back to Tarawera Landing

We awoke to another great morning however the weather forecast didn't present well with buckets of rain crossing the country. Even so no one really wanted to get back to Auckland so we left well after our planned departure time and weren't in any rush. Upon reaching the landing we decontaminated our kayaks and headed into Rotorua for lunch.

As predicted and at a sensible time sure enough the skies opened but we were already driving back.

Thanks Nick for organising the weekend.

 

Lekker Stroopwafel Toetje

What happens when you combine deserts from both Holland and Belgium? Well we decided to find out.

Stoopwafels are two pieces of biscuit waffles stuck together with honey (aka stroop). The best ones are the fresh ones from the markets but 10 seconds in the microwave warm them nicely. The Dutch in their wisdom decided to use them as the basis of a new ice cream flavour (Stroopwafel ijs). Mmmm, I thought what if we pile these goodies onto a Belgium waffle.

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Warm waffles, soft Stroopwafel ice cream topped with mini Stroopwafels makes for a lovely dessert that isn't too sweet although filling.

 

Marikenloop

Renate and Corine complete the Marikenloop Every year for the past 5 years Nijmegen hosts the "Marikenloop".It's Europe's largest female sporting event with over 7000 runners raising money for breast cancer.

This year Renate decided to join her sister and friend Corine in running the 5km track and managed to get a couple of practices in before the race. OK so its not a marathon but a great starting point and for a great cause. When they use excuses like "but there's a big hill" you just have to smile.

Even though they had completed longer distances around the local park it was still a big event and Renate and Corine were both pleased with their sub 30 minute time and finished literally hand in hand.

Of course the husbands and boy fiends played their part to egging them on from the side lines shouting words of encouragement.

 

Happy 60th Wim & Almah

We both had to work so this trip was more like taking our every day lives and shifting them across the world oceans. Once again my bosses found it in their heart to allow be to work for a few weeks on the other side of the world allowing us to spent quality time together.

One weekend we headed back to the Island of Vleiland. This time to celebrate the joint 60th birthday or Renate's parents. Due to the short stay we stayed in a motel in the sand dunes instead of camping as we have previously done. As part of their gift a photographer documented the first time they were together on Vieland with their daughters and daughter's partners.

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Maarten bought along his kites (these were the larger puppies) and although the weather was hot there was a great sea breeze so we made the most of it. Marcel decided to get in on the action and bought himself a small kite at the local shop with some additional string aiming to get the kite as high as possible. They refused as its a low fly zone due to the military practice range at the other end of the Island. We found some anyway :-)

A few more photos from the weekend...

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Kayak Motuora Island

A few of us had decided that two nights would be better than one so after a rushed Fri morning of work we were off stopping for a quick bite in Orewa conscious it would soon be dark. We made it to Sulivan's bay in good time with the remaining daylight assisting us making sure we didn't leave anything important behind (as it turns out eggs weren't that important).

Mahurangi harbour

The moon reflecting in the sea As the sun vanished over the horizon we set of across the milk pond they call Mahurangi harbour. Due to the small amount of light reflecting off the slither of moon it was easy to see the the phosphorous streaming off the paddles and bows of the yaks. It didn't take more than an hour across the smooth water and upon our arrival a flock of Kawahi freaked at our lights and spent the next 15 minutes mostly out of the water. We knew at least one other member of the club was already there and it didn't take long to find Farzad and Lance and setup along side and enjoy the remainder of the evening over a few quiet beers.

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P1110097Saturday morning was upon us and the others would be arriving soon. The plan was to head across and explore the nearby Islands of Moturekareka and Motuketekete but the wind was picking up and was forecast to increase in the afternoon. We decided to wait for the others and in an attempt to locate them in amongst the whitecaps climbed the hill behind the camp site. Sure enough this gave us their position but fighting the headwind it would still take them a while so we explored the nearby hills. We made it back to camp in time for their arrival and put the kettle on. The wind was picking up so we spent the day erecting a tarpaulin tent shelter complete with flag, exploring the rest of the Island and of course eating all the goodies everyone brought along. The weather was getting worse and some boaties made a dash for the mainland whilst we made ourselves comfortable. As night fell the shelter stood up to everything nature had to throw at it protected us from the elements while we wined and dined the evening away.

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In the morning the weather wind was up even more and most would have been happy to use that an an excuse not to go back to work but instead we packed up as planned. Understandable there were a few nervous faces as we gathers on the beach ready to depart. For safety we broken into pods of about 6 as its easier to keep an eye on one another and prevents running into each other. The swell was two metres with 3 metre waves which certainly felt higher when you were looking down into them whilst sitting in a  5M long kayak. The wind was hanging around the 40 knot mark so we had no chance if it was a headwind. The swell and wind came from astern so although it was possible to paddle and ride some of the waves. Only two people came out so it was a good chance to practice rescues in the somewhat crazy conditions.

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Except for a couple of sore backs we all made it safe and sound stopping at and taking over the Puhoi Tavern for a spot of lunch and tell war stories. If there is anything this trip has taught us even though it was difficult conditions the skills we have learnt can be applied in the worst of conditions.

 

Kayak Lake Waikaremoana (Easter 2008)

Day 0 - Auckland to Waikaremoana

6am the alarm clock sounded and within an hour we were on the road avoiding both rush hour and the Easter madness on the roads. It was a leisurely trip with a few stops along the way as we were in no rush and needed to pick up a few supplies along the way. Along the metal road a bus pulling over to allow a car to pass went over a bit too far sliding into the ditch so we offered them our assistance and before long we were all on our way.

We eventually made it to the camp site at Waikaremoana late in the afternoon and startled the bunnies, perhaps a sign of things to come. We unpacked over a quiet beer welcoming the others as they arrived. Les and Gregor demonstrated how to pack their kayaks for those of us new to multi day overnight missions.

Day 1 (Easter Friday) - Waikaremoana to Waiopaoa Hut

The plan was to be on the water at 9:30am so after a final shower and a quick breakfast it was down to the water with plenty of time to pack. It doesn't matter how much experience one has packing a kayak, we always bring too much and end up making sacrifices whether it be a chair, thermos or snorkelling gear.

Kayaking off towards Panakiri

We were off on a perfect morning, each stroke piercing the still dark water reflecting the sky and surrounding mountains! Some faster than others as Larraine made a flying start whilst the rest of us took our time chatting to our new companions heading for the cliffs of Panakiri for morning tea. Upon arrival the first thing was for everyone to dash into the bushes from the last minute cup of coffee.

From here the group split into two groups; those preferring to take their time and explore all the bays and inlets and those making a beeline straight for lunch. The level of the lake was significant lower than last year and with the still waters the sunken forests were clearly visible to a depth of about 20 metres.

A quick swim before lunch set the tone for the rest of the trip trying to get in as many dips during breaks to make the most of the warm water and fantastic weather. That afternoon we again split into our explorer and beeline pods making it camp around 3:30pm. What was an empty camp site soon filled as we settling in with a keg of beer, plenty of wine and snacks taking it in turns to kill wasps.

As night fell Vaughan headed out for a spot of night kayaking (something to do with the harvest moon) so we lit up the kayaks on the beach to guide him back in the dark. As the moon rose most of the group headed to bed whilst the remainder headed down to the beach to muffle the laughter over a few wines. The moon was overhead before the rest of us ended up getting some shuteye so who only knows what time that was.

Day 2 - Waiopaoa Hut to Upokororo Bay

P1100723 After the previous nights efforts some people were quieter and slower than usual. We only had a short paddle to our first stop at the Korokoro falls a short walk from the main track. At an impressive 22 metres high the cold spray filled the valley walls although some were game enough to enter the pools. From the falls we meandered around the lake edge until we found a suitable lunch stop at Maraunui Bay. After lunch the wind picked up a little changing direction as we moved around the different bays.

Looking back at the lake from Korokoro river

It seems that it doesn't matter how much distance we had to cover each day we always made it to the next campsite about 3:30pm in the afternoon. This night we camped at Upokororo Bay where the hut warden mows the grass at a beautifully manicured hut. The tents were pretty much arranged in a semi-circle steering clear of the camp  fire which we planned to use that evening.

A couple of trampers were interested giving kayaking a go so Denis and Gregor obliged talking them through the basics and correcting some obvious mistakes such as sitting on the spray deck or trying to put the spray deck on with knees coming out of the cockpit. They eventually made it back with big smiles on their faces. By this time we had the fire going and in between knocking our heads (some harder than others multiple times) on the shelter and cooking dinner spent the rest of the night around the fire. During lulls in the conversation and as more went to bed the noise of the snorers increased.

Sitting around the fire at Upokororo Bay 

Day 3 (Easter Sunday) - Upokororo Bay to Tapuaenui Bay

That morning the Easter bunny paid a visit leaving a small chocolate deposit in each kayak and still remains at large leaving much speculation. It was an overcast day with isolated patches of rain being seen around some of the bays across the lake however they didn't stray our way and we remained dry. It was a short day so we tried to use as much time as possible to explore the clear depths, rivers and lagoons which turned out to be the best spot to see the trout. With only a few quiet strokes the yaks passed through the glassy water with hardly a ripple.

Fern fron openingTonight's camp site was located at the end of an arm and upon jumping out after beaching one sunk into deep mud. A cold wind blew in so most enjoyed soup for their lunch before deciding what to do for the afternoon. Some went for a walk/run to the next hut, some decided to go for another paddle and others decided to head out to the point where they could jump off large rocks into the 44 metre water. This also proved to be the ideal spot to wash all the wine spillage out of a kayak... or was it? What happens when you fill the rear compartment with in deep water?   

Rock jumping into 44M of water

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That night the wind died down enough for another camp fire on the beach where we attempted to finish off the rest of the food whilst Megan tried to burn down the camp site. Denis came to the rescue picking up the flaming cooker and throwing it into the lake. After dinner some went for a short kiwi spotting expedition in nature's equivalent of Fort Knox. With all the talking, torches, trees crashing it wasn't surprising we didn't see anything.

Day 4 (Easter Monday) - Tapuaenui Bay to Auckland :-(

Once again everyone was happy to be on the water for another perfect morning but no one really wanted to go back to Auckland. Various attempts were made to slow this process with our first detour to kayak under the impressive Waihirere falls, more rock jumping and a water fight that lasted most of the way back to the starting point.

After arriving back at the starting point we were good boys and girls checking, cleaning and drying our gear to ensure we couldn't contaminate any other waterways with Didymo. As we did so numerous boats mounted their trailers only to disappear down the road.

Unfortunately our trip had come to an end so thank you Nick, Larraine and Russell for organising it.

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More photos of the Lake Waikaremoana Kayak Trip

 

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