Just before chistmas Ginni and I met up in Auckland to continue our exploring of New zealand. We both had spend some time overseas to expand the budget. First we returned up to Paihia in the northern part, were we spend a couple days at Mark Hudson’s house to prepare our trip. There we met Connor and Ellie from UK, they work for Mark as kayak instructors. Thanks to them we could rent their car for our entire roadtrip which save us time and money instead of buying a car. It already had a name: ”Scooby Doo- the Subaru” and even kayak racks on the roof. Our friend Dave Ramsey had taking good care of our kayaks, hoist up in the roof in his garage while we been gone. Also checking up on s/y Misty which will remain this year in the boatyard in Waipapa.
Soon Scooby Doo got packet up to the brim with camping and kayak gear, water, food and our two kayaks on the roof, we were ready to head south. Our travel companions was three stuffet animals; Moose, Koala and Kiwi. The idea was to get down to the bottom of NZ’s South Island as soon as possible, hopefully even to Stewart Island which is the most southern part of NZ. From there slowly work our way back up north.
First two days we beating the hightway all way down to Wellington were we took the ferry down to the south Island. Then from Picton we continued driving south along the east coast. In Christchurch we finally took a break from driving and went for a short sightseeing in town. In 2011 Christchurch was hit by a strong earthquake and many buildings collapsed. Some areas in downtown is now transformed into parking lots and it gave a sense of a ghostown. We continued east out on the Banks peninsula and at the very end of the road up on the hills we found a very cool accommodation called ”Onuku farm hostel”. A few buildings with common kitchen, lounges with internet etc. For sleeping they had ”Stargazers”, small huts only big enough to sit upright and with windows in the roof so you could watch the stars at night. The rain was pooring down and we were happy not to camp out in a tent that night. Next morning we did some kayaking along the peninsula in rainy weather. For the night we stayed on a beach camping on the north side of Banks peninsula.
We continued driving south along the east coast, next stop was Dunedin. After a shorter stop in town we went further out on Otago peninsula were we stayed at Portobello lodge. Not far from there layes the Royal Albatross center were the Royal albatross and Yellow eyed pinguins can be seen. Next day we did some nice paddling around the head of the peninsula in clear sunny weather.
We drove last bit down to Invercargill were we stayed for New years eve. The plan after this was to take the ferry down to Stewart Island but the forecast was promise days of strong gales and heavy rain so we decided to drive up to Milford sound on the west coast instead. And rain it came… Not far from Milford sound we stayed at ”Gunn’s camp” a historic place with basic huts and good atmoshere. Milford sound on a postcard shows the stunning fjord with surrounding peaky mountains but the day we were there most of the spectacular mountain peaks was hidden in the clouds. Despite the cold wind and heavy rain we were determined to do some paddling in Milford sound, so we did. Even without seeing the highest peaks it was still an amazing place with vertical mountains and waterfalls every where. The wind and rain increased and at the end I was really cold in my thin insufficient kayak clothes, Ginni could handle it better in her drysuit. Afterwards we stopped by a coffeeshop / restaurant which also offered hotshowers which was just what I needed. The forecast showed that the bad weather was remaining and the road over the mountain pass will be closed in a few hours, so we started driving back toward Invercargill again. One relaxing day followed in Invercargill, I also supplemented my poor kayak clothes for colder weather which was needed for Stewart Island. In a hardware store in Invercargill (E. Hayes and Sons Ltd.) I was lucky to find Burt Munro’s famous original Indian motorcycle, The ”World’s fastes indian”. We drove down to Bluff, at the tip of south Island. Parked the car and loaded our kayaks on the ferry and went down to Stewart Island.
First night we stayed in a hotel in the main village Oban. This is a fishermans ”down to earth” village, locals with weathered faces and big rubber boots. Next day we went out for a couple days kayaking in Paterson inlet, just south of Oban. To begin with pretty nice calm weather but as later turned in to a strong gale. Our plan for the night was to camp in a hut in the south east part of the inlet but to get there we had to cross a bigger open part of the bay which was too exposed for the wind. The strong wind and rough sea made it almost impossible to get forward (atleast for me), so we had to find shelter in a cove close to Dundas harbour. We put our tent up and camped there for the night. I realized that my 20 years old tent which use to be really good, wasn’t so water proof anymore, we had puddle’s of water inside the tent when we woke up next morning. The wind had eased so we continued down to Ulva Island. This Island is a sancturay for wildlife espacially birds and there you can find a mixture of rare species. We hiked around the Island and later we found a nice camping spot on a beach not far from Ulva Island. Next day the forecast was showing a new gale approacing so we started early to paddle the remaining miles back to Oban. We have seen how fast the wind and sea condition can change down here so no time to waste. The rain didn’t wait long but the wind didn’t get as strong as they promise. We were back in oban before noon but still no sign of strong gales. Instead we went for a hike around the little town of Oban. The day after we took the ferry back to Bluff.