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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Tonight'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?
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