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.


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.


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.


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


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.


More photos of the Lake Waikaremoana Kayak Trip