Sunday, 2 March 2008

kayaking in the 4th wettest place on earth

After a night spent in Kaikoura it was up early for the drive down to Lake Tekapo in central south isalnd. The drive was (as is usual in NZ) surprisingly simple and laid back. If acting as the map reader the instructions are usually 'drive 200km on this road then turn right'!

We arrived at Lake Tekapo around 5pm and put up the tent. We had it down to an art form and had both tent and airbed up within half an hour. The town of Tekapo is uber tiny so we had a quick drink at a bar then headed back for an early night in the tent. The following day we drove down to Manapouri. A long drive but no less stunning than the previous few days. One of the amazing things about NZ is how the scenery changes constantly. From the relatively dry flat land around where Tim's parents live we experienced stunning coastal roads to moutainous roads spotted with beautiful clear blue lakes to hilly almost rainforest-like flora.

We stopped by in Queenstown for lunch and had a look round. In the winter this is one of NZ's main ski resorts. It certainly had the alpine feel although there was no snow on the slopes. Definitly a place to return during the ski season.

We arrived in Manapouri in the pouring rain. As in torrential pouring rain. We decided that maybe putting a tent up was not the best idea so we asked if there were any dorm beds available. Thankfully there were which meant we could dump our stuff, head to the only cafe in town to pick up a hot choc and then return to cook dinner in the kitchen. We were wacked after our drive and had to get up early the following morning so we headed to bed early.

The following morning we were at Fijordland Adventure Kayaks at 7.30am with coffee in hand. nine of us were gathered on a coach and driven just down the road to Pearl Harbour. Here we boarded a boat for a 20 minute trip across Lake Manapouri. It was still raining. In fact it was pouring. We arrived at a small bay where we were layered up with micropore fleece, wetsuit, cap and paddle jacket then we picked up a coach to cross over a high pass to a small bay on the edge of Doubtful sound. Here we were layered up with a 'skirt' and full waterproof. We climbed on board a boat and were carefully negotiated onto kayaks.

Despite the rain the kayak trip was awe-inspiring. Dificult to describe in words in fact. I have never seen such beautiful scenery and would recommend everyone to pay a vist. The fijords are absolutely stunning. high rock formations jut out of the water covered in lush rainforest-esque forna with waterfalls cascading off the top of them. No postcard could do the view or experience justice. We spent four hours kayaking and Vix and I were frequently lost for words. Just amazing!!!!!

In the evening we headed 20km up from Manapouri to Te Anau for a dinner of pizza and a drive through torrential rain back to the campsite. no wonder this place is the fouth wettest place on earth!