Tennyson Inlet Kayak

What a fantastic way to spend Easter! A very memorable experience kayaking the Marlborough Sounds indeed. What made this trip so special? Everything that could go right, went right. If anything didn’t go to plan then it effortlessly became an adjusted plan.

An early start to the long weekend on Thursday with an anticipated ferry trip to Picton. Some of us were loaded to our eyeballs with motion sickness drugs, because the weather forecast indicated a rough crossing. But the ferry was about four hours delayed. By the time we boarded the Kaitaki, the Cook Straight had calmed down and it was a smooth sailing after all.

Sea Kayak Adventures’ and the delightful owners (Aaron and Nat) took seamless care of our group from the moment we arrived in Picton until we headed back to Wellington again. On Friday morning (after a night camping in Anikiwa) five double kayaks were loaded on a trailer and a shuttle took us on a  lengthy transfer to Duncan Bay.

People walking a kayak into water
Setting off (Kevin C)

The original plan was:

  • Duncan Bay to Waiona Bay Campsite (Friday)
  • Waiona Bay Campsite to Nydia Campsite (Saturday)
  • Nydia Campsite to Ferndale Campsite (Sunday)
  • Ferndale to Ohingaroa pickup point (Monday).

According to forecast the weather threatened to throw a gusty fit late afternoon, on Friday. In view of this (and in light of Kayak experience levels) the plan was appropriately adapted to camp at Tawa Campsite and cut the day short.

Two double kayaks on the sea
Paddling (Kevin C)

On arrival at camp, tents quickly got erected, making the most of space limitations.

Double kayaks beached on the shore with sea and hills in background
Stopping for the night (Kevin C)

The meal that night was Satay noodles from the club’s recipe book – selected with dietary requirements in mind. The meal was swiftly prepared following meticulous instructions and then eagerly devoured by the 10 of us sitting on a log, overlooking the bay.

Group of nine people eating food on a log
Satay noodles (Kevin C)

For the minimalist tramper, the quality of the food was a pleasant enhancement to the mental image of outdoor life. There were several cakes and the custard kept flowing liberally for desserts; frankly, the custard never stopped flowing until the sweet ending of the trip.

On Saturday morning the Sounds were calm as can be. It was a sunny, very pleasant paddle.

View of a kayaker on open water
Calm conditions (Kevin C)

A pod of dolphins – probably bottlenose dolphins – made an appearance to grace our journey.

Distant mountains with what may be dolphins in the sea
Dolphins (Kevin C)
View over the prow of a kayak at sea, evening
Calm conditions continue (Kevin C)
Two kayaks paddling across a backdrop of mountains
Paddling onwards (Kevin C)
A lodge with a balcony over the water. Bush backdrop
At midday, a convenient lunch break was made at the isolated Te Rawa lodge – boat access only! (Kevin C)

Our target destination, Nydia bay, proved a bay too far given the time available and the group democratically settled for Jacob’s Bay Campsite for the night. This campsite allowed our tents to be tucked away under the trees. Tables really helped the communal cooking. Vegetable tostadas were on the menu, followed by cake, fruit salad …. and custard to our hearts’ desire. A special mention goes to Maj-Britt who managed to successfully shepherd bananas along undamaged!

On Sunday, the group had achieved sublime cohesion and again managed to get onto the water at a reasonable hour without stress. The main debating point was the fact that winter time had started and no one could confidently work out if/how to entrust a smart phone (that is out of mobile reach) with the task of waking us up. Collective intelligence led to an excellent solution: get up when it gets light.

People getting up as the sun rises on a beach with beached kayaks and tents in the background
Getting up when it gets light (Kevin C)
View of the back of a kayaker paddling on the sea. Three other kayaks are visible ahead
Sunday was another gorgeous day on the water, we continued to paddle down Pelorus Sound heading for Kenepuru Sound (Kevin C)
Kayakers improvising a sail from a tarpaulin
With a bit of a tail wind in the afternoon we took the opportunity to raft up and do a spot of sailing (Kevin C)

En route, Kevin and Maj-Britt hit jackpot finding some mature black mussels. Kevin’s mastery of food preparation was solidified when the “best-ever mussels” were served at Ferndale campsite. This campsite was a favourite.

Two pans of mussels cooking
Best ever mussels at Ferndale campsite (Kevin C)

If Maj-Britt’s banana achievement was impressive, Garth took the prize by producing 15 unbroken eggs along with bacon as a treat for the omnivores. This boost of protein set us up well for the last leg back to Ohingaria pick up point.

Seven people and five kayaks prepare to take to the water from the beach
Setting off to the pickup point (Kevin C)

To reach it, we were to make some substantial crossings as the wind picked up during the morning. It was an exciting paddle among the white caps, but the double kayaks are sturdy and the group was well-practiced by now.

We made it back after in time for our pick-up at 2pm having had a fantastic experience over the four days that we’d been away; tick!

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