Having tried out several of the club’s activities – tramps, navigation, snowcraft, even the club’s annual Bum Sliding Competition – it was time to check out what else WTMC had on offer. There’s trapping, climbing, mountain biking, rock climbing, canyoning, skiing/ski touring and kayaking. I decided a club kayak trip would be the next cab off the rank for me.
On one of the many perfect 2017/18 summer Wellington evenings, I joined Kevin, Helen and eight others on my first kayaking trip. As a newbie to the activity I went along with an open mind. I returned with something great to remember.
If leaving Wellington Railway Station in one of the club vans is what you’re used to, then you might find heading off on the ferry a bit of a novelty. I did. We had a smooth sailing, good company and plenty of food and drink options. Waiting for us at the Picton terminal was our kayak company transport. They would take us on the short drive to Linkwater for our Friday night accommodation.
We woke Saturday morning with enthusiasm. It was another fine day. The hour-long safety briefing was informative yet casual as we relaxed on the lawn in the warm morning sun. Next we were fitted out with our kayak kit, loaded the kayaks onto the trailer and headed to the water.
We were paired up by Kevin and Helen and used double kayaks. We launched at Moetapu Bay, Pelorus Sound and headed north to Putanui Point. This first stretch was as calm as it can be – perfect to get the feel of the kayak and a rhythm to the paddles going. We hugged the coastline around Putanui Point then made a second beeline NNE towards Koutuwai Point to enter Kenepuru Sound. At this point, the breeze gave the water some ‘waviness’ – a good step up from calm for the entry-level kayakers among us.
As with most outdoor activities, kayaking makes you hungry. We were spoilt for options of where to stop for lunch. Any one of the beaches would do but we made our way well into Kenepuru Sound to break the day’s effort up. Helen selected a long beach that had a bit of shade at one end. We pulled the kayaks up, whipped off our booties, shimmied out of our spraydeck skirts, pulled out lunches and then stretched the legs out to relax. In no time however, we were itching to get back in the kayaks. It didn’t take long to pack up, shimmy back into our ‘skirts’, don the life jackets again and get back out on the water.
The next hour was pure leisure. Either the wind had dropped or we were simply on the sheltered side of the sound. We kayaked along close to the shore dipping in and out of numerous secluded coves. We looked for anything of interest on land or in the water. Jellyfish and stingrays were sporadically seen along our route. The native bush with the birdsong overlooked us with tranquility.
After an unsuccessful search in Double Bay for a spotted shag colony (seen by Helen on a previous trip), it was time to get the fly out – not for shelter but for a bit of fun sailing. And it really was fun – partly because most of us didn’t listen to Kevin’s instructions so we didn’t know what we were doing. After a bit of fumbling, accompanied by lots of laughter, we got there. The five double kayaks lined up, with one from each pair holding the neighbouring kayak so we stayed as one. The sail was up and with the light gusts of the breeze we sailed, in a spluttering kind of way, NE further into Kenepuru Sound.
From Te Mara Point we began to make our way across Te Matau a Maui Bay to St Omer Bay. The wind was now a little stronger and we were more in the open away from the Sound’s edge. We quickly found ourselves having to put in some definite paddling effort to get across Te Matau a Maui Bay. If the conditions in the morning were ‘wavy’, we were now experiencing something closer to being ‘choppy’.
One by one, we pulled up ashore and checked out St Omer Bay’s infamous shipwreck, the ex-training ship MS Amokura. It was also time for a snack. Next port of call would be our Saturday night’s accommodation – a few coves around at Ferndale Campsite.
With kayaks high up on shore, eight tents pitched and the picnic table commandeered, we sat and relaxed on the lovely sandy and sheltered beach of Ferndale Bay. Along with an unexpected entrée of mussels in a creamy garlic sauce (thanks to Kevin for his mussel gathering efforts during the day), we experienced a perfectly serene end to the day. As the sun descended in front of us and with the evening closing in, we relaxed on the beach with not a sandfly in sight.
The agenda for Sunday was to explore upper Kenepuru Sound. The conditions were perfect as we headed out of Ferndale Bay. As we did the day before, we dipped in and out of numerous coves, then across Gold Reef Bay. We then made our way to Weka Point where we regrouped before we headed across the water to Kaiaho Point. From there we explored the water’s edge until we reached a cute little isthmus at the far end of Take In Bay. Fortunately the tide was low enough to allow us to pull the kayaks up, hop out and take some photos. Megan went a step further and jumped into the water on the other side for a quick refreshing dip.
Back into the kayaks, off we went around the next point into Portage Bay for lunch. Another idyllic spot although somewhat more civilized that our earlier stops. Here we were treated to hot chips from The Portage (thanks Garth). There was coffee and flushing toilets too!
With continued good weather, we paddled along the water’s edge in the direction of Broughton Bay where our kayaking would come to an end. As the afternoon wore on, the wind picked up, but not before we got to relax on the shore mid-afternoon. We had a swim and re-energized on Jet Planes.
We had sufficient time to dry off in the sun on Broughton Bay beach before our pick up. After getting back to Linkwater for a shower and change of clothes we headed to the ferry. Several of us stayed up on the deck as the ferry sailed out of the Sounds. We were fortunate to be on a sailing that (for training purposes) the captain needed to ‘take the scenic route’ to Wellington. We would go via the Queen Charlotte Sound heads rather than the usual route out through Tory Channel. It must have been ‘meant to be’: it gave those in the group planning to go on the February Intermediate Kayak trip to Blumine Island the opportunity to do a bit of a recce from the vantage height of the Interislander ferry deck.
Thanks to Kevin for leading on the water and Helen for organizing the logistics.
If you’ve yet to try a WTMC kayak trip in the Sounds, here’s the movie to tempt your tastebuds further.
Helen, Emily, Mark, Uta, Megan, Lisa, Rohan, Garth, Bram and Heather were played by themselves. (Movie Credit: Kevin)