I've been in Auckland most of this week, and even though it's the city of my birth I've never managed a paddle on any of my myriad trips over on business.
This time circumstances dictated that I come over a couple of days earlier than I had planned, and I figured I'd give Kayaker Greg, one of Auckland's paddling personalities a shout & see if we could line up a paddle.
GregHe was very generous in his response, and met me this morning down at the harbour's edge with a couple of skis, paddles, PFD's, even a drink bladder for me! He then had to undo the meticulous fit out on his new Stellar SE Ski to fit my longer frame, all for a couple of hours cruising the bays.
The weather earlier in the week had been arctic, way colder than even Auckland in winter can dish up, but this morning it dawned cool but clear, perfect spring sunshine & glassy conditions.
We paddled from Greg's paddle club base, the Royal Akarana Paddlers, at Okahu Bay, and headed towards Browns Island in the middle of the harbour, riding the little ferry wakes that seem to radiate across the harbour. While the seascape was benign, it's not every day you get to paddle past a dormant volcano, with the distant hills of the stunning Coromandel Range visible on the horizon.
Rangitoto Island, a long dormant volcanoAs we rounded Browns Island we could even see the top of Great Barrier Island, some 65km away and a tempting target as a long open water day trip. One day....
Around my local waters we don't really have much in the way of tides or currents influencing our paddling, so it was novel to feel my ski sliding around various headlands in directions I wasn't entirely controlling.
We were right on the turn of the tide too, so you can imagine a decent ebb or flood tide on springs making the paddling environment pretty interesting.
We paddled back into a rather chilly headwind that appeared from nowhere. I don't think Greg realised that headwinds are not part of the deal!
We covered a cruisy 19km in a couple of hours, chatting away when it was calm & battling back when the winds came up. I thoroughly enjoyed the paddle & appreciated Greg's hospitality. I look forward to returning the favour when he makes it over to Sydney to try a rudderless Brit boat!