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 Justine's Journal

CackleTV Productions


New Zealand - here we come!
Wednesday, October 03, 2007


This is the official announcement of a trip that was first dreamt up almost a year ago, but remained as a small but niggling seed in my mind until a couple of months ago when it took root. I am teaming up with Barry Shaw to attempt to circumnavigate the South Island of New Zealand this Southern Summer.

I believe this 1,700 mile journey will take us along one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world and is also one of the most committing and challenging circumnavigations that can be undertaken in a kayak. The swell on the south and west coasts rarely drops below 2 metres with hundreds of miles between sheltered landings. Gales are common and can arrive quickly so we have to expect many surf landings and launchings. In Fjordland in the South-west there is no road access for 300miles so we will have to be entirely self-sufficient. These considerable difficulties are the reason why only 3 paddlers have continuously circumnavigated the island before, and this includes the very talented Paul Caffyn and Chris Duff. Chris was capsized over a dozen times in the surf on his circumnavigation. No women have yet paddled around the South island, although 2 other women ( Freya Hoffmeister from Germany and Barbro Lindman from Sweden) are making 2 independent attempts on the South island this year.

I think the fact that only 3 people have achieved this journey in almost 30 years, and now 3 women are trying it in one year is quite interesting. Who knows why this has happened. Seakayaking is certainly taking off in popularity and more and more people are going on challenging expeditions. Barry & I made plans for our circumnavigation attempt before we knew about the other 2 expeditions. Now we know, our desire to explore this beautiful place and challenge ourselves there hasn't waned. However I don't like the element of competition the 3 attempts in 1 year has introduced. That doesn't mean I'm not competitive! Perhaps that's why I don't like it because I don't think an expedition is the right arena for a competition so I don't want to get drawn into competing there. We are each dealing with our own unique natural challenges and to stay safe we need to make decisions based on the weather and conditions, not on whether we're going to be first or the fastest. I don't mean to assume the others just care about being first - I know it's a big motivating factor for Freya, but I don't know Barbro at all. I've also got nothing against trying to be fast, but my personal preference is travelling slowly enough to experience the place that I'm paddling in. So partly to avoid competition, and party because the most settled weather is usually from January onwards, Barry & I will be leaving in January, whereas Freya leaves in October and I think Barbro leaves in December.

We will be starting in Christchurch towards the end of January 2008 and paddling clockwise. We're allowing 3 months which we hope will be long enough to explore a little, and sit out the bad weather. We're already running around trying to get things organised. Our kayaks start the long journey to New Zealand before us, and leave in a container from Nigel Dennis' factory next Tuesday. From there they go by ship to Washington on the West coast of the States, and transfer to a Johnson Outdoor container for their onward journey to Christchurch ( thanks to Nigel Dennis & Lendal paddles for sponsoring this cost). Barry has tested his brand new boat and even managed to loop it in the tide race off Cemlyn Bay last Friday. There wasn't a drop of water in the hatches even after a thorough thrashing! We've also been talking to sponsors and lots of lovely sponsored gear has arrived ready to go in the containers - 2 dragonfly stoves, fuel bottles, water containers and a water filter from MSR, dry bags from Sealline, thermarests & Southern Hemispher compasses from Silva. We have a meeting with 'The North Face' on Monday because they'd like to give us some financial support aswell as kit. It's all very exciting.

You can read more about the expedition on a dedicated page on my website - ( thanks Derrick for doing a great job there), and I'll be writing updates on my blog as we move ahead with the planning, and during the trip.

We're still working out lots of details with help from people like Paul Caffyn, Chris Duff & Susan Cade so thanks to them their help and advice. Also a big thanks to our trip sponsors so far.

The North Face for expedition kit and financial support.
SeaKayaking UK for 2 Explorer kayaks & shipping of the kayaks.
Lendal for 4-piece paddles & shipping of the kayaks.
Kokatat for expedition wear.
MSR for stoves, fuel bottles, a pan set and water filter.
Casio for 2 Pro-Trek watches.
Thermarest for 2 thermarests
Sealline for dry bags
Silva for compasses.
Snapdragon for spraydecks.

We're looking for a good deal on hiring a satellite phone for the expedition so if anyone has any contacts, or would like to sponsor this part of the expedition then please get in touch.

See you on the water!

For More Information

also see;

Freya Hoffmeister

Barbro Lindman


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two Dragonfly stoves? Simmer nicely, but not the most reliable in my experience. Might want to trade one for an XGK? That would make a nice combo, one super reliable jet engine and one for more finicky work.
Best of luck,
Mike B

3:15 pm  
Blogger Kristen said...

Just thrilled you're going, Justine. As an avid reader of your blog, you'll do my homeland proud. My brother lives in Nelson - let me know if there's anything I can persuade him to do for you.

5:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like the trip will be a lot of fun, as well as a challenge. Go for it!


9:28 pm  
Blogger CB4 said...

We hope everything works out well in your travel...
About the competition, most paddlers know that the the basic thing is to enjoy and to sail freely,and therefore the competition remains as a minor aspect
good luck to you all

2:33 pm  
Anonymous RoJo said...

Hi Justine,
I do agree an the comment regarding the Dragonfly. Not the most relialble stove! I still prefer the Whisperlight or XGK II. With practice it is possible to simmer on these stoves.
For sat-phones you might want to have a look at or
Enjoy the trip!

9:38 am  
Blogger Justine Curgenven said...

Thanks for the comments and best wishes! I haven't ever used the XGK II stove but I've found the dragonfly good in the past. We have 2 of them so that if we do have problems we can bring out the spare straight away while we fix the problem, and we can use one of them for parts if necessary. Plus we have a repair kit for it so I hope it will work well. Shawna, Leon and I used a dragonfly in Haida Gwaii, with a wispalite as a back up. We did learn to simmer with the wispalite but the dragonfly was much more efficient on fuel! I'll let you know how the system works!!

10:16 am  

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