Picton, Day 8

We had to be at the office of Sea Kayak Adventure Tours by 8:30 for our unguided kayak/hike ($85 per person). Guided kayak/hike tours were $120-$130, and Marc has sea kayaked before, so we thought we would be okay. It was located up the Queen Charlotte Drive on Anikawa Drive, and I had asked Marc to figure out how long it would take to get there. He thought 20 min. We left at 8:00, after helping ourselves to some of Lynn’s (the owner of Tombstone) freshly baked scones.

As we headed up the Q.C., we realized it was 26 KM along the twisty road to Anakiwa Drive. I had horrific images in my head of us showing up late, keeping a dozen people waiting, but when we made it exactly at 8:30 am, we were the only ones there. One other couple was going, two guys from Ireland, who were doing the kayak/mountain bike. It occurred to me to inquire how far the hike was, and I was told it was 12 KM. 12 KM? How far is that in miles, I wanted to know. We were told it was 3 KM to a mile… I wanted to believe him more than I actually believed him… If I had known we would be walking that long, I probably would have worn different shoes… Both of us were wearing Keen sandals that we wouldn’t mind getting wet in the kayaks.

We got an extremely thorough briefing on kayaking, then headed out. They launched us from Anakiwa, and we had been told to keep eyes on each other, but the Irish guys met up with a solo kayaker whom they knew, and then they headed far out from the shoreline, whereas Marc and I wanted to hug the shoreline, knowing we’d see more stuff that way, and after an hour we’d lost sight of them.

Marc kayaking.
The amazing color of the water and some water fowl on the rocks.
Kayaking from Anikawa to Mistletoe Bay.

The first half of the kayak was marvelous. Calm waters and no wind. There were tons of jellyfish in the water, and at one point Marc exclaimed “Holy sh*t!” and I looked into the water. It was a sea of fluffy white jellyfish. We also saw lots of birds perched in the rocky crags who didn’t fly away at our approach.

Here is a video of our kayak trip, you can hear a lot of bird calls in the background.

Here is a video of the hundreds of jellyfish in the water!

Then we turned into Onahau bay and the weather made a dramatic turn. The wind was blowing into us, making the water extremely choppy. We started to kayak against the wind, and I questioned Marc about whether he had navigated us the correct way… I couldn’t imagine why they would have us kayak in these weather conditions, or why they hadn’t at least warned us about the wind. As we continued to battle the weather, it seemed to get even windier and the waves were a foot high–which was rather frightening to me since I had never sea kayaked before. I began to worry that I wouldn’t have the energy to get to our destination, Mistletoe Bay. And if we had made a wrong turn, I definitely would not have the energy to get back. My arms and shoulders and back were so sore and I think at one point I began to cry. If we stopped paddling, the wind would immediately blow us backwards. It was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life. After 1.5 grueling hours, we finally made it. When we got to Mistletoe Bay, there were kids in mini sailboats in the bay, so I figured this area was known for its windiness.
We ate lunch on a picnic bench, sandwiches that we had packed in our cooler. I was covered in saltwater and cranky. Then we started the hike. A signpost said this section of the track would take 4 hours to hike… And that’s exactly how long it took, because 12 KM = 8 miles. It was an extremely beautiful walk, but I know Marc was not prepared for such a long hike. By the end of it, he had several blisters on his feet and he was also extremely sun-burned from kayaking. My ankles were also extremely sore and I wished I had brought a different pair of shoes to wear. I felt guilty for suggesting it and not doing enough research on it, and knew this wasn’t his idea of “vacation.” We also didn’t bring enough water, my aluminum water bottle ran out 1/4 of the way into the hike. Along the way, we ran into Dan, the guy from the kayak company, who was leading a group of mountain bikers. When he asked how the kayaking had been, I said, “It was rather windy,” and he said, “Yeah, it’s a bit windy today.”  A bit windy today…
The color of the water changes all the time.
Pretty foliage.
Views galore.
Marc gazes at the view.
The Queen Charlotte trek mascot.
Super Mario mushroom! This put the theme song in my head...
Dawn on the Queen Charlotte track.
Have you ever seen a more amazing view
New Zealand cows are even happier than California cows!
Only 1 KM left!

Here’s a video of me walking along the track near the starting point. Pretty grasses and foliage and the sound of birds in the background:

Although I hated the kayaking and Marc hated the hike, it was a very memorable day. I absolutely loved the hike and there were so many picture perfect moments. A return trip to NZ will definitely include walking the entire length of the Queen Charlotte track, even if I have to walk it sans spouse… We drove back to the hostel and although we had been consoling ourselves along the trail with talk of fish and chips and Guinness at the local pub, we suspected that after showering off the sweat and saltwater, the only thing we would have the energy for would be dinner in. We decided to stop and get cake for dessert, and at the grocery store I bought a carrot cake and some Kapiti Coast hokey pokey ice cream. I made the same thing for dinner I had made the night before, more fish and cole-slaw and sliced tomatoes. When Marc was done eating, he put his fork down and exclaimed, “That was the best meal ever!” He was right, it did taste pretty darn good after all that exercise. We each had a fat slice of carrot cake and I had 2 scoops of hokey pokey without any guilt. Marc turned in early and I stayed up late reading, knowing we’d be sleeping in the next day.


Kapiti coast smoked havarti, wine and apples.
Nz is famous for its hokey pokey ice cream.

Go on the next part of the journey!

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