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 Justine's Journal

CackleTV Productions


91 - lets say that again NINETY ONE km in 11 hours!
Monday, March 31, 2008

S43°08.01' E172°49.22'

Amberley Beach after 91km paddle! Made most of the tailwind. 11 hours hard paddling to reach good landing 10 minutes before dark. Surf launch this morning. Tired but only 50km to go. We hope to finish tomorrow!

[alex on behalf of jc]

Short afternoon sprint past albatrosses (albatri?)
Sunday, March 30, 2008

S42°33.92' E173°30.67'

Wind and chop against us in the morning, paddled four hours when it eased a bit in the afternoon and covered 24km. Landed through 2m surf, was OK because we chose a sheltered spot. Saw lots of dolphins and albatross.

[alex on behalf of jc]

Sperm Whales and Acrobatic Dolphins
Saturday, March 29, 2008

We've had a great day off in Kaikoura. Matt McKenzie put us in touch with Gaz & Sarah here in Kaikoura and we're camped in their garden and are showered and have been fed with lots of tea! They did offer us dinner last night but we'd already had fish and chips, a double ice-cream and a large pizza each ( and that all between 4.30pm and 6.30pm!). Gaz is a kayak guide here and Sarah works on the whale watch boat. She took us out on one of the cruises this afternoon which was fantastic. We saw 2 sperm whales, both of them dove down to go fishing and showed us their fantastic tails. We also saw a pod of about 200 dusky dolphins showing off to each other and to us, doing more back flips, somersaults and tail slaps. It was a great tour with informative commentary on a fast boat which handled the swell really well and traveled at 25 knots!! ( what are we doing in kayaks, again!?).

We have less than 200km to go to get back to Christchurch. It's day 64 today and it was a great day for paddling today but we decided we'd rather have a day to chill out, rest, soak in the local wildlife and chat to Sarah & Gaz. The forecasts have been unreliable lately ( no offence Karel who has done a great job sending us daily forecasts by sat phone ! There seems to be a complex weather system at the moment, with all sorts of winds predicted at different times but it never seems to do what they say!). But we hope to get back on the water tomorrow and continue the paddle south. We're not sure how long it will take us to complete the circle - we don't fly home until late April so there's no rush, we'll just see how we feel! Personally, I have mixed feelings and part of me wants to 'get it done' and get back to Christchurch, whereas part of me wants to savour it and make it last just a bit longer!!

Thanks to everyone for putting comments on the blog. We really enjoy reading them all when we get to a computer and it's great to know that people are following along with us.

Dolphins do victory backflips near Kaikoura
Friday, March 28, 2008

S42°25.52' E173°41.23'

Made Kaikoura after 34km. Met a pod of dolphins doing backflips! Was a calm day today, short paddle to hang out here.

[alex on behalf of jc]


Wack for my daddy o, there's whisky in the tea
Thursday, March 27, 2008

S42°12.69' E173°52.33'

Covered 62km to reach Waipapa Bay. First 30km were great, surfing with a north easterly wind behind us. Then the wind died. Five minutes later we were paddling into a headwind! Hope to reach Kaikoura tomorrow, then have a day off on Saturday. Will be having whisky in our tea tonight!

[alex on behalf of jc]

Cape Campbell
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

S41°45.42' E174°15.51'

Reached Cape Campbell after 69km. Had to fight against a 5 knot tide out of Tory Channel. Fog and light headwind in the morning with tide later. Saw a shark, an albatross and dolphins.

[alex on behalf of jc]

Okukari Bay
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

S41°12.05' E174°18.71'

Settled in at Okukari Bay. 41km slog against a headwind most of the day, until we hit and OK longer pretty inside passage. We made 5 knots against the wind! Been invited to dinner with locals.

[alex on behalf of jc]

Trespassing in the dark
Monday, March 24, 2008

S41°02.39' E174°16.70'

Near Cape Jackson 73km on. Tide reached 9 knots at French Pass! We had 90 minutes lunch stop at French Pass for ice cream (first day we landed for lunch since day 2! ). The tide was with us lots but the wind and tide were against us around the cape. We only had 50 minutes of light left when we finally found a place to land. We were cooking in the dark when we were told off for being on private land. We've made friends now though!

[alex on behalf of jc]

Stalked by large fish
Sunday, March 23, 2008

S41°02.64' E173°39.66'

Camped on Otuhaereroa Isle after short hop of 31km. Had a relaxing morning, started at 3pm. Went past pretty cliffs and arches. There were huge fish under the kayaks, too big for the handline.

[alex on behalf of jc]

Half Day & Relaxing with the Scranneys!
Saturday, March 22, 2008

We fancied a day off today after working hard the last 4 days to get round the top of the West coast, and the forecast warned of a strong easterly wind this afternoon which would be a headwind as we paddled East. But when we arrived in Kaiteriteri last night we were a bit blown away by the dozen or more boats moored up in the beautiful sandy beach and the wall-to-wall campervans and tents in the campsite which took up half of the beach front. It's a bank holiday weekend and there were hoards of people everywhere. Despite it being a beautiful spot we didn't want to spend a day in that environment so we camped on top of the beach last night and got up at 5.30am to make an early dart Eastwards across the Bay. By 8.30am, the easterly had kicked in ( which isn't afternoon as far as I'm aware!!) and I was questioning our decision. But we were drawn onwards by the promise of a bed, a shower, some food, beer and a solar heated swimming pool from David & Alice Scranney near Pepin Island on the other side of the bay!! Dave's a kayaker and he & Alice moved over from South Wales nearly a year ago. Fortunately the easterly died away after a couple of hours and it wasn't too arduous a paddle! It was 'only' 34km, and it was lovely to land before noon. We've had a great afternoon relaxing, washing our kit and eating, and we have a seafood chowder and homemade cheesecake to look forward to tonight!!

ROUGHING IT IN NEW ZEALAND! ( David & Alice with Barry & I )

S41°02.15' E173°01.15'

60km paddle later we arrive in Kaiteriteri. Very happy to be here! Did it in two 30km hops, first to Separation Point (a pretty paddle), then round coast from there. Saw lots of kayakers! Staying at a busy tourist spot tonight, what a contrast!

[alex on behalf of jc]

Hello Farewell Spit
Thursday, March 20, 2008

S40°32.45' E173°00.58'

Stopped near Farewell Spit near the lighthouse, after covering 58km. Hurrah! West coast done, but must still round the spit tomorrow. Lovely coast before the spit with a lot of seals. Had a long carry with the boats though!

[alex on behalf of jc]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

S40°38.87' E172°25.29'

80km paddle with a South Westerly wind picking up late in the afternoon. Saw a shark only 10 metres away! Landed on a tiny beach. There's a cosy hostel here so we treated ourselves to a bed! Hope to round the spit tomorrow.

[alex on behalf of jc]

Stop Press - Paddle leash saves swim
Tuesday, March 18, 2008

S41°14.47' E172°05.89'

Canoed down at Karamea. Big surf all the way down so pushed on and landed on the beach. Barry still managed to loop in a big set. The paddle was ripped from his hands, but luckily was on a leash so no swim needed!

[alex on behalf of jc]

Still in Westport
Monday, March 17, 2008


We've spent another day at Harriet and Phil's house in Westport as the swell this morning looked pretty intimidating and the forecast said it was 4 metres again. Last night we made the mistake of looking at the place we planned to land next on Google Earth and counted 4 or 5 few lines of surf rolling into the beach with a couple of lines at the end of the river mouth. It suddenly didn't feel quite so 'bombproof' as a sheltered landing and we decided to wait until tomorrow to paddle there when the swell is meant to be lower ( just 7 or 8 feet!). Maybe the google earth photo was taken during a northerly swell and it would have been fine,,, but then again maybe not. Either way, we are going to paddle tomorrow and take on whatever surf landing we find ( or don't find). Today Brian took us for a drive to Charleston where we went for a walk along the cliffs. The surf looked quite manageable at times, but there were some massive sets coming through and smashing up the cliff faces. At least the gaps mean that if there is surf on the landing tomorrow, we should be able to time it so we land in a lull. We also went for a bike ride around town today and chilled out a bit.

Swedish kayaker Babs is about 150km ahead of us also stuck by big surf, check out her website here She'll hopefully be able to get away tomorrow aswell, although it would be fun if we manage to catch up with her before she finishes her circumnavigation in Picton in the next week or 2.

Thanks again to Harriet & Phil, Brian and the other nice people we've met in Westport.

Well Looked after in Westport
Sunday, March 16, 2008


We're having a day off in Westport. We could probably have made good progress north today as there is a SW tail wind but the forecast is for 4 metre swell so we stayed put. In fact we have a sheltered launch at the harbour in Westport and the next place that we plan to land is, according to Paul Caffyn, one of the best sheltered landings on the West Coast so we'd probably have been fine, but the forecast for the next 2 days is good aswell with a lower swell, and we felt like a rest and some good eating while we are in a town!

Yesterday we had a following sea again and even after a bit of a lie-in, we arrived around 3.30pm. We walked a couple of kilometres into town for some food and a look around, and when we got back we camped on the beach by the kayaks. This afternoon we found out that a friendly local, Harriet, who the Sweedish kayaker Babs stayed with was looking for us to offer us a place to stay. After a few phonecalls and a chance meeting with a friend of hers, Brian, on the beach, we're now in her lovely house getting showered, washing our clothes & using the internet. I'm ashamed to say that our clothes have only been washed twice in the last 55 days - they can practically walk into a room by themselves, so it's great to have them clean again! We're continuing to be amazed and grateful for all the help and support we're getting from locals in NZ.
Once we leave here, we hope to paddle about 60km to the Little Wanganui River which is the sheltered landing Paul mentioned, and then we plan to wait for a good weather day and paddle as far as we can as there isn't much more protection from the swell until we round Farewell Spit. Paul told us about a few places which offer some protection so we'll try to reach one of those, and with luck round the spit the following day. We shall see!! Meanwhile we're enjoying a sunny day off, we had a dip in the sea this morning, a nice pub meal at lunchtime and Harriet is planning a BBQ for this evening.
This is now my longest ever kayak trip - today is day 51 and Barry and I are still talking to each other! In fact we worked out that in the last 55 days ( including travelling & preparing time) the most time we've spent apart is about an hour, and that was when I was sick and sleeping at Tim & Jacqui's house, so we must be getting on OK! We did think about going to see different films at the cinema in Westport just to get a bit of space, but Harriet tells us there's only 1 film showing here so there goes that idea!

Westport - walking distance from chippy!
Saturday, March 15, 2008

Stopped in Westport after safe landing. 47km fast paddle with foul wind and big swell at the cape. Walked into town for fish and chips - icecream and beer tonight!

S41°44.23' E171°35.55'

[alex on behalf of jc]

Playful dolphins on arrival at Seal Island
Friday, March 14, 2008

Stopped at Seal Island after 51km in 6 hours! Wind and swell were with us. Very pretty limestone cliffs and a protected landing. Met some playful dolphins. Had a great morning with Paul and friends before setting out.

S42°02.09' E171°22.20'

[alex on behalf of jc]

Hello from Paul Caffyn's house. I'm sitting at Paul's computer looking out the window at about 1 metre surf ( 'You are SO lucky", Paul keeps telling us! "This is SUCH a good Summer - that's about as good as it gets!"). We were hoping for a windy rough day today so we could have a day off chilling out with Paul, Deb and Jim ( 2 Tsunami Rangers who are staying with him), but the weather is really settled right now with low surf and almost no wind so we feel we should take advantage of it to make more progress up this surf coast.

We've had a lovely few days up the coast from Hunt's Beach - a day's paddling and then a day's rest twice. At Okarito we were put up by Tristan and Matt, a lovely couple who were staying there while Matt did some work on Tristan's dads house. It was fun to chat to them and great to sleep in a bed and have hot showers. Matt carried the boats up to his house on their quad bike and trailer which saved us a lot of work heaving them. We took their dog, Zeus for a walk on the beach and out to the pretty lagoon and had an afternoon nap. Leaving through the surf is always tense, Barry made it out fine at Okarito and got a few large waves in the face at our second spot, the start of Green's beach. One of them knocked him over and he had to roll up. I went second both times as I wanted to film Barry and my kayak got turned sideways by the waves 3 times before I managed to make it out. I also got a few hefty waves in the face.

We wanted to say thanks to Glen and Marie at the Haast Beach Holiday Park who put us up for the night for free when we were in Okuru - it's much appreciated. Also thanks to Rob and his mates who were staying there for a few days fishing - we met Rob in Moeraki at the start of our trip so it was fun to bang into him again ( thanks for the beer and port!!)

Well, time to start thinking about getting on the water. We hope to paddle about 50km to Seal island today - hopefully we'll do it in about 7 hours if we manage to sustain yesterday's pace, but ideally we'll be on the water before noon so we won't be landing in the dark!

Thanks to Deb Volturno for the photos.

Arrived in Greymouth!

85 km sees us in Greymouth. Barry rolled on surf launch. Swell dropped and was calm coming in over bar. Paul met us and had beer at his. We were well fed, and the Tsunami Rangers were there as guests! Late start tomorrow!

[alex on behalf of jc]

Windy day means day off
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Windy day today with surf over 2m! Very nice day off on endless sandy beach, exploring and resting. Remote roadend here. Saw a couple who gave us bread. Early night in order. Hope to paddle tomorrow.

[alex on behalf of jc]

44km against the wind
Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Paddled 44km against a headwind. Had to time surf launch and landing well. Sea rough and windy now. In tent in the rain with rice, lentils and veg for tea.

S43°00.27' E170°34.31'

[alex on behalf of jc]

3 metre surf causes pause for thought
Monday, March 10, 2008

Powerful 3 metre surf today, so stayed here! Walked and slept. Smaller surf this evening but due to rise again tomorrow afternoon with North Westerly wind due. Not sure if we will go tomorrow. Really pretty here.

[alex on behalf of jc]

Paul saves day by returning phone!
Sunday, March 09, 2008

S43°13.38' E170°09.37'

Got phone back! Thanks to Paul for driving the phone to us. Being put by a couple in a pretty village and saw lots of dolphins today. It was a calm day until 2pm then 30 knot south-westerly wind which is still going but has dropped a bit.

[alex on behalf of jc]

Upside Down ( 3 times lucky!)

Hello again from Justine and Barry in Okarito! We left Hunts Beach at around 8.30 this morning, after being waved goodbye from Paul, Whiskers, Jan and the kids! The surf was up a bit, a few metre and a half waves broke on us and stalled us a bit but nothing too drastic. It was calm until about 2pm and we made quite good progress surfing a moderate SW swell. Then the wind picked up dramatically, reaching 30 knots within an hour. We were surfing along nicely at over 4 knots but we started to be worried about a landing. Okarito lagoon is the first place we knew about which is slightly protected but it's not really that protected. As we approached the beach after 57km of paddling we moved in a bit to decide whether to land or whether to carry on ( and hope we could find somewhere else slightly protected to land later, and/ or that the wind and swell would drop later). As we were discussing it, we spotted some very powerful looking 2-3 metre waves that we didn't fancy getting any closer to, but before we could move away, I looked behind me and a saw a curling wave about to break on me. I tried to move back and sideways but it was too late and the wave picked me up and knocked me upside down straight away. The wave rolled me back up again and I was still being surfed in, but it was still quite steep and my bow dug in and knocked me upside down again. It was quite turbulent for a few seconds upside down but I rolled back up, minus my hat, and looked behind me to see what else was coming. There were no more breaking waves for a while but I was committed to landing now so I paddled in as quickly as I could, hoping that Barry was OK to follow. I nearly made it to land unscathed but I got sucked back into a dumping wave a few metres from the beach, the wave broke on top of me, hammering me into the lowest part of the beach and I was upside down again. I thought I was surely going to hit my head on the bottom but I didn't and I rolled back up again before making it to shore. I was worried about Barry, but noticed him landing 100 metres away - he made it in unscathed with much better timing than me!

We're both fine, the weather should be better tomorrow and the surf is due to drop so we'll probably head north again, although we'll see! I've managed to foolishly leave our satelite phone at Whiskers house so I can't send the usual text messages to Karel and Alex to update the website so if you don't hear from us for the next few days then that's why. I'll try to get the phone back as soon as possible, and in the meantime find internet access myself, or a phone signal to get a message back that way.

Okarito is a very pretty place. Thanks to Ramari for letting us use the internet and trying to help us get our sat phone back. We're starving and need to go and eat!!

Half Way Round!
Saturday, March 08, 2008

Hello from the Fox Glacier!! Barry and I are being tourists for the day and loving every minute of it! We are both feeling quite tired from lots of paddling, making the most of good weather days and fate put an offer too tempting to refuse into our hands today.

We arrived at Hunts Beach last night an hour before sun set, tired, a bit wet and cold, not looking forward to putting the tent up and cooking as it got dark. We walked up to the nearby houses and asked for some water and were whisked inside. As I filled the water bottles, we were offered 'the better water' ( the brown, fizzy kind in a bottle), and then we were told the family had some left over roast dinner and we should help ourselves to lamb, potatoes, pumpkin and other veg. We had a great evening chatting to 3 families and eating delicious fresh food. Later, their neighbour, called 'Whiskers' for obvious reasons invited us back to his house to sleep for the night, an offer we gratefully accepted. He also offered us use of his car today so we could drive up to Fox Glaicer, buy groceries, and chill out. The forecast was for a northerly picking up throughout the day so we gratefully accepted. In the end, the wind isn't very strong today and the swell is pretty low on a coastline with limited sheltered landing spots so perhaps we 'should have' paddled, but neither of us feels TOO guilty as we are not in a race or a rush and for us this trip is as much about meeting the people and experiencing the place as paddling our hearts out! Still, it's hard not to worry a bit about what tomorrow's weather will bring as it feels pretty serious paddling out here in potentially big swells, and strong winds which can pick up very quickly. But enough worrying, we're having a great time, eating lots and trying to build up our strength so we can do some more long days on the water ( to minimise the number of landings we have to do in surf and to make the most of good weather when it comes along). Plus it means we can have more days off to look around. We've now paddled over 1300km which we reckon is over half way - it certainly looks it on the map so that's a great milestone.

So much has happened since we had internet access that it's hard to know where to start. We've had some tough paddling days in very strong winds - a couple of gusts that came out of Caswell Sound were the strongest winds I've ever been in, the air went white with spray and I couldn't see 10 metres away. It was side on and I had to brace to stay upright. Fortunately, the wind was gusting so we could paddle forwards and slightly in towards the sound when it eased slightly and we made it across the bay. the headwind getting into Dusky sound was also horrible, we were moving at less than 2km / hour and were exhausted when we arrived at Anchor island in some sort of shelter.

Arriving at Anchor island, we were surprised to see a small boat anchored up, thinking what on earth were they doing out in these winds! Unsurprisingly they said something similar to us when they spotted 2 kayakers! Rob, his son Simon and friends Doug and Alastair were on a boys adventure fishing and diving in Fjordland. They were great to us for 2 days, feeding us loads of seafood and taking us fishing when Barry caught his 15kg grouper. They thrust a huge saucepan full of crayfish legs in front of us while they filleted the grouper and said 'snack food'. Later came grouper, crayfish tails, and scallops! Thank you so much to them for looking after us and feeding Barry ( and me) up! One of the many times we thanked Rob for his kindness, he said told us a story of how someone was really kind to him once when he needed it and when he said 'what do I owe you?", the guy just said 'you owe me nothing. You owe someone else a favour". So the message was that we should help someone else out when they need it. ( Just don't all come knocking on my door at once, please!)

It was disapointing in many ways to paddle right past Milford Sound. We had intended to meet Barry's schoolfriend Ian there with a resupply but he had to work in the end so we had options. We were quite low on food but still had enough for a few days and as we approached the sound entrance the weather was really really good, and the next day's forecast was for a following sea. Having been stuck for quite a while in Fjordland we couldn't resist taking advantage of the good weather and we carried on. I've been to Milford before as a tourist and Barry was satisfied with the other sounds that we kayaked through that are less visited. Another benefit of this is that when we landed in Kaipo Bay that night we spotted a yellow plane and soon met it's owners, Lisa and Max. We offered them some crayfish that some fishermen had kindly given us ( thanks to the lads on the 'Southern legend') and they said they might be able to repay us with some venison later that evening. half an hour later we heard a shot and Max came back with the main course! He cooked us up some of the best fillet meat that evening over a wood fire and gave us a whole hind leg to take with us ( fortunately he chopped it up for us and we'd have struggled to fit it in a hatch!) We're still eating the venison for lunch and dinner every night and it's lovely!!

The main disadvantage of Ian not meeting us in Milford Sound was that he had our maps for the rest of the coastline. Thanks to Ian and Paul Caffyn for sorting something out - Ian posted our stuff to Paul and Paul very kindly drove down to Jacksons Bay with it to meet us. As we were paddling from Jacksons a northerly wind picked up and slowed our progress down to 4.5km/ hour and it was really hard work. We really didn't feel like working hard for so little reward ( we'd been surfing at 8.5km/ hour the day before!) and had decided to stop at the first opportunity when we saw a man on the beach dancing around with a red flag. We didn't know Paul was coming to meet up but we began to suspect something! The mysterious figure waved more frantically and pointed to a sheltered landing behind a rock. He then took his trousers off and waded into the water as I got closer. it was of course Paul, helping us to land and he brought us all our gear! Thank you so much to him.

We hope to get paddling again tomrrow. there's a southerly forecast although it's meant to be quite strong so we're a bit worried about surf landings which is the main danger on this coast as there are few sheltered places. we shall see! IN the meantime we have a glacier to visit and 'whiskers' has promised us roast pork tonight!! We cant' complain!!

Overall we're having a good time, it feels pretty gripping and serious at times, we're very tired some mornings ( and not much better in the evenings!), but it's satisfying and we're really enjoying the time on the land meeting people.

Beaches, Bluffs, Beer and Bed...
Friday, March 07, 2008

Bedded down at Makaawhio Point near Jacobs River after 80km and 11.5 hours of paddling. Weather stayed calm, saw many pretty beaches and bluffs and landed late. Locals fed us and gave us beer and bed! Good evening, but tired now!

S43°33.18' E169°40.68'

[alex on behalf of jc]

Met Paul Caffyn at Okuru to resupply
Thursday, March 06, 2008

Just south of Okuru. Northerly headwind all the way, too much work! Met by Paul Caffyn to resupply. Staying in a chalet, and had ice cream and beans on toast... life is good!

S43°55.14' E168°52.48'

[alex on behalf of jc]

Labels: , , ,

Jackson Bay - 82km only to find chip shop shut!
Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Arrived at Jackson Bay after 82km of paddling. A 25 knot wind meant much of the paddle was an exciting surf. Jackson Bay has a road and houses and we were able to take our first shower in 16 days! The chip shop was shut so had to "make do" with cooked venison from a couple at Kaipo :)

S43°58.37' E168°36.62'

[alex on behalf of jc]

Crowded hut in Kaipo Bay
Tuesday, March 04, 2008

In hut at Kaipo Bay. Very calm day so bypassed Milford Sound. Hope to meet Paul Caffyn at Jackson Bay to re-supply. Fishermen gave us crayfish for tea! There's a couple in the hut with us, and a tiny plane nearby.

S44°24.02' E167°55.40'

[alex on behalf of jc]

Blasted by strong winds and spray
Monday, March 03, 2008

Reached Catseye Bay. Very strong South Easterly wind, white sheets of spray blasting at us as we crossed the various sounds. Landed 9am and waited for the wind to ease. Paddled later, but still strong at 2pm. Had to be careful landing.

S44°49.02' E167°23.59'

[alex on behalf of jc]

On the move again - Looking Glass Bay
Sunday, March 02, 2008

On the move again. Reached Looking Glass Bay after 43km paddle. Offshore wind picked up to 40 knots. Fine near to the coast, but nasty crossing Caswell Sound - quite a struggle. In a pretty bay, with the sun shining.

S44°55.43' E167°14.59'

[alex on behalf of jc]

Still hut bound
Saturday, March 01, 2008

More northerly wind, so another day in the hut. Lots of cards to write and a short walk. Forecast for southerlies tomorrow but may be gale force unfortunately.

[alex on behalf of jc]

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