Issue 89

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Issue 89

ON SALE NOW Motutapu Makeover Waikato in the Wet 300 Mile Kayak Odyssey in the Sea of Cortez White Water Paddling in Antioquia - Colombia Proudly supported by:

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Issue 89 Autumn 2018


Contents adventure equipment

Sea Kayaking 6. Waikato in the Wet 12. Motutapu Makeover 20. Third Time Lucky 31. A 300 Mile Kayak Odyssey in the Sea of Cortez Fishing 38. The “Sound of Music” White Water 46. Antioquia – Colombia General 36. 42. 43. 40.

Product Review - What to Wear in Winter? There’s Snow in Them Hills Rhino-Rack Product Book Review: Inside - One Woman’s Journey Through the Inside Passage

Tommahawk Dry Cag

High Back PFD

Sladek Recreational Cag

EDITOR: Peter Townend, PUBLISHER: New Zealand Kayak Magazine is published four times per year by Canoe & Kayak Ltd. PRINTING: Print Lounge Pricing: At the time of printing the prices in this magazine were accurate. However they may change at any time.

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Copyright: The opinions expressed by contributors and the information stated in advertisements/articles are not necessarily agreed to by the editors or publisher of New Zealand Kayak Magazine. SUBSCRIPTIONS: Go to: CONTRIBUTORS: We welcome contributors’ articles and photos. Refer to for more details. ALL CONTRIBUTIONS TO: James Fitness, New Zealand Kayak Magazine

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Cover photo: The vivid colours along Lake Arapuni, Waikato River By: Ruth E. Henderson

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Issue 89 Autumn 2018 YAK qtr page 15-08 colour white background.indd 1

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Editorial I have been exploring the Hauraki Gulf this summer with the family and while we have had kayaks with us, we have been getting from A to B in the family launch. It has been amazing just where you see kayaks and in what conditions people are out in. It is common around the East Coast of Auckland to see kayak fishos out in strong wind conditions, being tossed around on white capped waves, busily pulling in fish. I personally love paddling in rougher conditions and, in my younger days, I have surfed monster west coast rollers, some of them many stories high. I really enjoy both clean surf and the stormy stuff, although the stormy stuff takes a lot of effort and is rather uncomfortable on the face, as the spray and rain lashes you. As a young fella I would hanker for the storms to roll in, but now, I’m getting a bit softer and prefer the warm water and glassy waves. Seeing these keen fisher folk out in rougher conditions, I do wonder: just how well prepared are they? Recent news stories have reported many people getting into trouble at sea and there are regular reports of them using VHF radios, cell phones and personal location beacons (PLB) when things go wrong. It is great that these devices are available to save people when things get out of control, however people need to understand the limitations that these devices have. A recent report on a boat sinking highlighted the issue of relying on touch screen cell phones to call for help. Cold, wet fingers won’t work on touch screens. The newly found confidence in the electronic device is perhaps giving us all a feeling that we can take more risks and help is just a cell phone

call away. I suggest we need to keep a very cautious approach to relying on them being able to fix every situation we find ourselves in. Weigh up your tried and tested skills against the conditions you are entering, secure in the knowledge that you have practised these often and are confident that if things go wrong, you can fix your own problems. Keep your amassing electronic communications as a backup for a ‘bolt out of the blue’ moment. That being said, as soon as you get outside your comfort zone and you are starting to wonder if you should call for help, then do it IMMEDIATLEY! Don’t hesitate one moment, don’t second guess yourself, don’t worry about making a scene, just flip up the aerial and push the button on your PLB, send out a “May Day” call on VHF Channel 16 or phone the police on 111. Get help on its way early. No one will mind if you then manage to sort it out yourself. Just call them back and give them an update and some thanks for being there. A simple rule I use in First Aid is that; if I don’t know what to do in a situation, then I call 111. It’s the same rule I use at sea, if I do not have the ability to keep everyone safe, then I call for help on VHF Channel 16, dial 111 or set off my PLB. Cheers and a happy and safe winter paddling to you all. Peter Townend

Issue 89 Autumn 2018


Waikato in the Wet

Photo by Ruth E. Henderson

By Lois Nixon

Friday, leaving Auckland. Jammed on the motorway, wet, feeling rushed, can't wait to get out. 10 paddlers make it through Friday evening from the bustle to a great welcome, a prepared meal and a comfortable hunker down at Peter and Hiroko's home on the banks of the Waikato River near Jones's Landing, Arapuni. For some, this is an annual journey, for me a first time, for Ruth our organiser, this is year 13.

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The forecast is for rain, and more rain. So, what? We are paddling, so what does that matter? We have our gear, there is no wind, no tide and the current will be with us. Next morning, two groups set out. One group to paddle from the Tutukau Bridge, and one left earlier to travel further south to start at Mihi. Some keen to "join the dots" of previous trips or, like newbie to the Waikato me, simply to see what I hadn’t seen before. Always that "what is around the next corner?" The plan was to all rendezvous at Orakei Korako thermal area, paddle on over to "the squeeze", tie up our kayaks, then enter a not so secret but tight passage following a stream through water carved sandstone to a waterfall and warm thermal pool. However, what was around that corner? A slow meandering river, peaceful, quiet, still in the early morning light. Large areas of floating lily pads, sunken trees, watchful shags, wind carved sandstone cliffs home to darting kingfishers, farmland, harvested forest, scrub and long rows of tall poplars reminiscent of French canals. Always though, the water. The rain delineating the smooth current patterns, pattering on the hat, feeling cosy, secure, even with the trickle down the neck, down the arm. Damp, but warm, as everywhere in the country this weekend. Not everyone though witnessed bubbling thermal vents steaming through manuka scrub, nor wondered how did a bath get half way up a hill? And, is it still there? What is there, without doubt, is a very good back massage under the waterfall


Issue 89 Autumn 2018

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Issue 89 Autumn 2018

Photos by Ruth E. Henderson


tuned to just that right pressure, warmth and volume to create a queue of happy campers awaiting a pummelling at the head of "the squeeze". After a shared meal on Saturday night with our hosts Peter and Hiroko, and much appreciated portage driver, Ian, the next day it was a quiet pre-dawn rise and "on the water" at 6 am for a "float" down the river to the Arapuni Dam. Magic. The quiet stillness, the water dark and smooth, reflections, the raucous magpies, the melodious tui, time slowed, taking in the detail, swatting a mozzie. Funny how reality bites when you are trying to be spiritual. Then it was bacon ‘n egg breakfast compliments of chef Greg with a side of wild blackberry.

Photo by Jill Dyet

To walk it all off, six of us went along the river bank following the Waikato River Trail to the Arapuni Dam to glimpse the river from a different angle. On one side turbines spilling out roiling white water, then across the suspension bridge a view of a river bed at the base of a gorge where once the river flowed. A journey of contrasts, a great weekend with plenty of wonderful memories to take home. Thank you all.



COURSES Sep 2016 QTR LND.indd 1 PA GE 10 Issue 89 Autumn 2018

FOR INFO SEE: CANOEANDKAYAK.CO.NZ/COURSES OR PHONE: 09 476 7066 w w w . 28/11/2016 k a y a k n11:31:41 z . c o .AM nz

Photo by Jill Dyet

Issue 89 Autumn 2018

P A G E 11

Motutapu Makeover By Ruth E. Henderson


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Issue 89 Autumn 2018


Administration Bay

In 1903 on the occasion of the Oddfellows Annual picnic, 14,000 people, or 14 percent of the Auckland population, arrived at Home Bay, Motutapu Island by a fleet of streamers, family. One hundred of these picnickers came north from Waihi by train. One hundred and fifteen years later, in 2018 on the occasion of Auckland Anniversary weekend, thirteen sea kayakers arrived, eight paddling from Narrow Neck, three from St Heliers, and two came by fast ferry. We came for the peace and quiet, to side step the modern madness of the motorcar exodus of Auckland, to step into the past.

Photo credit – Reg Nichol

much faster than sail, to enjoy the hospitality of the Reid

Those of us who’d elected to leave on Saturday morning from Narrow Neck, dodged one big container ship, crossed the Rangitoto channel, and headed north. About halfway between the causeway and Administration Bay Robert, our archeologist stopped at the Sunde site to examine the pre-European Maori and Polynesian dog footprints trapped in the ash from the 1400AD Rangitoto eruption. What a sight that must have been… watching an island erupting into being! Robert counted himself lucky to photograph a preserved dog poo! We stopped in at Administration Bay, our first encounter with the island’s World War II military history. Once full of soldiers in barracks, it’s now a youth camp run by the Motutapu Outdoor Education Trust. In Yakity Yak history it’s famous for the 2003 Mid-Winter Christmas party, when, as the story grows, ‘everyone’ bought chicken. But actually, there were a few PAGE 14

Issue 89 Autumn 2018

Sunde Archeological Site – dog poo – photo by Robert Brassey

Issue 89 Autumn 2018


The ruins of the Battery Plotting Room, once the ‘think tank’ of the Territorial army camp


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Looking over the Rakino Channel to Woody Bay, Rakino salads and puddings, a Christmas tree courtesy of Steve & Sue, and some crazy party games. I recall vividly the musical chairs. Legs stretched, onward we passed Billy Goat Point where still clinging to the cliff is one of WW II’s pill boxes or concrete bunkers with commanding views over the Hauraki Gulf. Some rock gardening lead us to Station Bay, its past marked by mature Norfolk Island pines. 24 kms later we pulled up at Home Bay. Around the few young pohutukawa trees tents gathered, people were sparse, the motor boats and yachts few. Under the mature trees, at Reid House, built between 1901 – 03 bean-bags sprawled, and flags flew. Ice cream and movies were offered. It was impossible to visualize how crowded it was that day in 1903. And before then… When the military dug into the hillsides they found under the layer of dense volcanic ash, evidence of ancient human occupation. WW II over, geologists and archeologists pieced together evidence of 12th Century occupation, perhaps the wandering Moa Hunters? The blanket of ash left by the Rangitoto eruption made the soils more fertile and easier to cultivate, attracting intensive Maori settlement. Home Bay was a fortified Pa, terracing and kumara pits still exist on most ridges and cliffs. The Ngai Tai were the main occupants until the mid-19th century when they sold to Europeans who began pastoral farming, establishing homesteads and planting those landmark Norfolk Island trees. The Reid brothers, John and James bought the island in 1869 and made it a famous and favourite picnic spot. Robert Graham, a pioneer of the tourist industry was the first to introduce exotic animals in 1860. James, a friend

Issue 89 Autumn 2018


of Governor George Grey, creator of the zoo at Mansion House, Kawau Island, shared their enthusiasm. Red deer were imported from England’s Windsor Park, ostriches, emus, donkeys, and the dratted possums and wallabies. Apart from the grand social events, shooting parties kitted out in knickerbocker suits went out to bag red deer and wallabies. On other occasions such as the Boxing Day paddle steamer excursions from Thames, there were rowdy rambunctious and no doubt exciting whale boat racing and greased pig chasing. We were decidedly less energetic. Some swam, or read and others gathered for drinkie-poos and nibbles before crouching around cookers, and either sneaking off to bed to read by head-torch or joining the kids for the movie at Reid House. The next day we set out to circumnavigate neighbouring Rakino Island. Andrea’s group had the previous day paddled out and about the nearby Noises…. but were happy enough to tag along and do some more rock gardening. Andrea did point out the disclaimer sign on her back “Follow me at your own risk”. Rakino was where all the boaties were hiding! We stopped at Woody Bay…so Renee could meet and greet the dogs, and for the rest of us to grab a snack and thermos of coffee. It also had a Home Bay, a jetty and is serviced by fast ferries. We stopped there for lunch and more dog patting before passing the South Island (true), crossing the Rakino Channel to potter and rock garden down the eastern side of Motutapu. Another 24 kms done, it was time for a rest…or not. I grabbed two water bottles and walked up the hill to see the Motutapu Battery…it was extremely hot, so I was very grateful for the Rotary Centennial plantings of native trees in the gullie heading up the hill granting me and the bird life, shade. On the hill top instead of soldiers scanning the horizon and manning the pill boxes, sheep stood guard, and on the


Issue 89 Autumn 2018

hillside alongside the ruins of the Battery Plotting Room, once the ‘think tank’ of the Territorial army camp, they sheltered from the sun. In 1942, the Motutapu Battery, one in a network of coastal defenses, had up to 700 personnel on site. I had the place to myself, so could loiter and take the time to contemplate the island’s military history. The signage on the gun emplacements and magazines described the jobs of these men (and a few woman) however the poignant thing for me was seeing the cramped, narrow quarters they slept in between duty shifts. Rusty doors opened to show the remains of brackets that would have held skinny bunks. Compensation perhaps would have been the wonderfully expansive views? Ideal for spotting enemy submarines and warships. Across to Rakino in one direction, then over to Waiheke and Motihue, and around to Rangitoto joined to Motutapu by an artificial causeway built in the Second World War. I watched big yachts and launches, en route to a safe anchorage, a place to pull up for drinks and dinner... yes, it was that time of the day, so I wandered down to Reid House seeking an ice cream…alas they had sold out, but I was given a glass of iced lemon water and a chance to read up on the Motutapu Restoration Society. “Motutapu Island’s physical connection with the iconic Rangitoto Island enhances its significance in the Hauraki Gulf. While Motutapu represents one of the oldest landforms in northern New Zealand, Rangitoto represents the youngest. Together they will create a wildlife sanctuary landmass about twenty times the size of Tiri Tiri Matangi, twice the size of Kapiti Island and significantly larger than Hauturu (Little Barrier Island), New Zealand’s other major island wildlife sanctuaries”. The Society in conjunction with DOC is giving the island a makeover. It got rid of the inhabitants once introduced as game, wallabies and possums in 1990 and in 2011 both Rangitoto and Motutapu were declared pest free. Admirably they have a 50-year working plan. So

far 500,000 trees have been planted and workdays are held every second Sunday of the month. Fifty plus years ago Shirley Maddock wrote and no doubt Elizabeth Easther will echo her mother’s sentiments in her 2018 TV program “Islands of the Gulf” “All inhabitants have left some trace of themselves behind. The Reid’s left their belladonnas, the walnut trees and the Norfolks; the army, the remnants of their camps and batteries, and heavy concrete doors that lead mysteriously into hillsides.” That night we discussed the next day’s weather forecast of 20 knot Easterly winds and rising…and decided to get up at 6 am for an on-thewater time of 8. The tail wind gave us good speed, we whizzed by Emu Point, the site of another early settlement, across Islington Bay, and 15 kms later were back in Auckland in the 21st century, in time for lunch. We may be back to plant some trees, but this time we left not so much as a tea-bag, just the temporary imprints of our tents.

27 Flemington Place4— 

References: 1. The Story of Hauraki Gulf Marine Park – HGMP Board 1983 2. Islands of the Gulf – Shirley Maddock 1966 3. To the Islands - Kerry Howe 2016 4. New Zealand’s Islands – Pamela McGeorge 2004 5.

Issue 89 Autumn 2018


Third Time Lucky

by Nathan Fa’avae

Three kayaks, Three paddlers, Three sea lions, Three days


Issue 89 Autumn 2018

Issue 89 Autumn 2018


What draws one to explore, to adventure, to challenge themselves with difficult and risky endeavours? This is what I pondered as I paddled south along the western side of Stewart Island, well and truly in the Roaring Forties, the notorious belt of ripping westerly winds. My thought process had begun as we drove towards the island, travelling from Tasman Bay. After a stop in Queenstown we were amid the convoy of tourist buses heading to Milford for the day. I wondered, about those passengers. They bus for hours, glimpse Milford Sound, perhaps have a short boat tour, then return by bus to Queenstown. At the end of the day, when they rest their heads on their white starched hotel pillows, what have they achieved, how have they been touched, changed, how are they better for the experience? I wasn’t judging them, I was genuinely curious. I had to think that the experience couldn’t be that meaningful, but maybe I was wrong, maybe it just wasn’t something that would fulfil me. Adventure relativity. It got me thinking about my impending trip to Stewart Island, with the aim of circumnavigation. I decided that for me, I needed more than seeing incredible places, I needed to live within them, be part of them, even if it wasn’t for long. I needed to travel slower than a bus going at 90 kph. One fond memory of the kayak trip was having breakfast at Flour Cask Bay, freeze-dried banana porridge, a steaming mug of panther black coffee, pondering the paddle to follow, around the South Cape. The fact we’d worked so hard to reach Flour Cask Bay enhanced the experience. I like exercise, I welcome some hardship, I enjoy basic living - drinking from streams, cooking on fire, sleeping on the earth. I also need, somewhat regularly, to feel alive, to have peak experiences. Moments


Issue 89 Autumn 2018

where skill level meets the level of challenge. Peak experience is not about the activity itself so much: but more about the blissful feeling that is being experienced during it, and the reward for making it, the accomplishment. I’ve accepted I need regular adventure in my life to function. Another part of me reasons that my sea kayak loaded with gear for a multi-day trip has a total value of around $10,000, I’ve worked hard for that gear, I better well use it. I was a sea kayak guide in the Abel Tasman National Park as a younger bloke. After the 1992 season I joined a group of guides and we headed to Stewart Island with the hope of paddling around it. Weather forecasting in those days isn’t what it is today, we arrived on the island at the same time as a large storm. Kayaking around the island was impossible so we resorted to a thorough exploration of Paterson Inlet and hiking to the West Coast, Mason Bay. We had an amazing trip, but the around island paddle was postponed. I knew I’d be back. And I was back, in 2010. My paddling partner was Tony Bateup (Golden Bay Kayaks). We’d paddled a number of exposed water trips over the years and were eager to explore the Isle of the South. Short story, we reached South West Cape half way around and were battered and bruised by an unrelenting storm that had west in every forecast. 75-knot winds, mountainous ocean swells and tidal streams that resembled flooded rivers more than sea currents, chuck in some breaking waves and we couldn’t find a safe passage, frightening stuff. Eventually when stores were bare, on the advice of the skipper, who predicted the weather pattern to last for at least another week, we hitched a ride with a cray boat to Bluff. We’d be back. And we went back, in 2018.

Rock pool – Photo by Shelley Stuart

Issue 89 Autumn 2018


This time Tony and I were joined by Perry Turner, all of us from the top of the south. We didn’t have the luxury of waiting for the perfect weather, we all lead busy lives, like everyone else I guess. So we set the dates well in advance and simply hoped somewhere over that time we’d get a window to complete the trip, around the island. As the departure date arrived, we studied the weather maps on various websites and gathered all sorts of information. It’s quite incredible how different the forecasting can be between rival forecasters, but what we looked for was patterns and trends, and from that made our own conclusions, based on data rather than hope. What resulted was that we believed there was a four to five day window suitable for a circumnavigation, March 17th-21st. The plan was to get on the water on a calm after a storm. There was two fairly settled days before another north west system hit, cutting up the west coast of the island. Tony and I had seen that up close before so we knew what to fear. After two days of north west there was a southerly change, which creates a whole other set of challenges, adding exposure to cold as another factor.


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On paper, which in this case was a map of the island, our plan was to get off the ferry on the 17th and paddle the north coast, which should be aided by a easterly behind us. Then we had to clear the west coast on the 18th, with a small back stop being we likely had a small window on the 19th to get around the southern capes before the arriving storm. If we managed that, we would be able to tuck in under the land along the south east coast and have two days to paddle that before the cold and windy southerly arrived, which was forecast to last for a week or so, . It was possible, but it felt like we were running the gauntlet, to borrow a phrase. The plan relied on no surprises in the forecasting, or if there was changes, we totally relied on them resulting in less severe weather. If the weather turned out to be worse than forecast, then we would be … up Stewart Island without a paddle, something like that. Tony and I had a coffee at a local cafe before we committed to the 1000 km drive and ferry journey, to be absolutely sure we weren’t embarking on mission impossible. By the time the cups were empty we’d decided we were on our way, game on. Perry flew down and met us in Oban. We quickly packed the boats and launched, on the water by 2:00pm, with the goal of clearing the north coast. We had food for 10 days in case we got pinned down. Surprisingly, we all commented how easy we fitted all our gear into the storage compartments. Typically on a trip over 7 days it’s difficult to fit everything in, careful and calculated packing is essential, but this time everything went in easy with room to spare. We agreed the difference was taking freeze-dried meals instead of regular food. We didn’t have the bulky low calorie food often packed for trips. We figured that paddling big days we could eat 5 freeze dry meals per day each, accompanied with snack food at sea. 5 meals each per day for 10 days, do the math. 50 meals allows for a huge variety of flavours and choice: we had breakfast options of Banana Porridge, Scrambled Eggs, Creamed Rice. We had hot and cold lunch options: Cous


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Cous Salad, Bacon Mash, Southern Beans, but we expected to be on land for lunch where we could boil water. Dinners provided a smorgasbord of options, mains and deserts. I took mainly my favourite, Chili Con Carne for main, Mocha Creamed Rice for pudding. Yum. On the water we made good time, we had a light easterly pushing us and roughly 7 hours of daylight. We wanted to paddle as far as we could, figuring we could get in the vicinity of Codfish Island, about 50 km away. We were prepared to go further if conditions on the West Coast were mint, but we were mindful there was no moon, so it was going to be a dark night. It was a glorious afternoon. It’s a stunning trip along the coast, the bush, the beaches and the Anglem peaks to stare up at. We enjoyed a quick stretch and snack break at Lucky Beach, putting some extra layers on and getting our nights lights set up and accessible. It was hard to keep pushing on as there were so many amazing campsites, but we didn’t have the luxury if we wanted to get all the way around. We were averaging 7 kph and the tidal flow was against us but we knew we wouldn’t get far beyond the Rugged Islands for the night. At best, Waituna Bay would be our camp, but as darkness fell, we went through Inner Passage to find a big lazy south west swell rolling in. We sat off West Ruggedy beach trying to determine the size of the waves crashing in. In poor light, we couldn’t tell if the waves dumping onto the beach were 1 metre or 4 metres, it felt very risky to attempt to land when we couldn’t see much, plus we’d have the issue of getting off the beach again in the morning. A quick scan of the map showed numerous awash rocks on the way to Waituna Bay so that didn’t seem smart either. We back tracked to East Ruggedy, which was the best decision. It was calm, there was fresh

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water, cool campsites in the dunes and kiwis calling at night. We didn’t have the stress of a surf break out after breakfast either. 54 km on the GPS, nice one boys. Somewhat coincidentally, East Ruggedy was were Tony and I camped on our previous trip. Awake at 6:00 am we huddled in darkness in the dunes sipping coffees and eating brekkie. The atmosphere in camp was excitement and nervousness. Today was a significant day, could we clear the West Coast? Our ultimate goal was Broad Bay, 85 km away. In theory, the distance wasn’t an issue, we had plenty of daylight, but what would the weather do to us. The first 10 km ticked along nicely, then we opted to cross Mason Bay out wide, taking a beeline to South Red Head, which put us about 10 km offshore at one stage. Over the next 30 km the brakes came on as we hit a tidal stream on the bow. Our speed reduced to a heart breaking 3-4 kph. It was a tedious stretch and the day was ticking by faster than we wanted. Adding to the sore butts was thirst. Because of the long stint at sea, we’d run out of drinking water, and we didn’t feel that we had time to divert off course to land to refill, we wanted to stay on our transit south and stop at Kundy Island, which we’d done on our previous trip also. Kundy Island was home to a mutton birder, who yelled from the clifftop something we couldn’t understand. It was most likely a warning about the aggressive sea lion that guarded the beach we were about to land on. PAGE 28

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We landed at the next beach and had an entertaining conversation with the local resident who suggested we didn’t take any chances with the sea lion, who clearly had a reputation. He did tell us to call in and see Alistair at the next island, but it was a detour so we chose dehydration instead. So with parched mouths we started paddling again. We were forced to do some calculations. We wanted to get around South West Cape at least. That would provide some shelter from the north wester if it came in early. If time and conditions allowed then we’d attempt South Cape as well, but we knew there were risks in that idea as it’d mean going into Broad Bay in darkness. The other and more sensible option was to stay the night at Flour Cask Bay, which had the added bonus of an earlier finish and daylight to set up camp. As we paddled between Big South Cape Island the tidal race was, well, it was racing. Our speed reduced again but we knew we’d make it to Flour Cask, possibly further. As we rounded South West Cape we got into fascinating seas where tidal flow met ocean swells, it was big glassy waves combined with a river flowing through. We opted for Flour Cask, confident we would get around the South Cape proper in the morning. We didn’t have high hopes of finding a decent campsite in Flour Cask so we were stoked to tuck in behind the peninsula and find a sheltered beach with fresh water, and three sea lions, after all, it wouldn’t be a beach without a sea lion would it.

It was a clear night with no wind so we built a fire and enjoyed some food, recapping on the 12 hour trip down from the north, 75 km in the arms. Fatigue sent us to bed early and the knowledge we had another big day ahead. The north west could be a factor and we had two days to round East Cape before the southerly hit. After deep sleep and an enjoyable breakfast in a truly awesome location, we launched and got our teeth into rounding South Cape. The sunrise was surreal, magical. We had the tide with us for a change. It was a treat to be able to stay close to land after the previous day where we had spent hours offshore. We stopped at Ernest Island for an early lunch, which involved serious negotiations with a seal lion who didn’t understand the concept of sharing. Rain and wind was building and we could see white capes in Port Pegasus; the storm was brewing. We braced for an action packed afternoon. We played it safe staying close to shore and by the time we reached Seal Point the wind had abated; it felt like the storm had passed, rapidly. Our plan was to paddle until six then look for a campsite. As we approached the Breaksea Islands it was clear we’d be in Port Adventure for the night, joking too soon, we’d have an early finish. Shelter

Point had the last laugh, we encountered big tidal races and a south east swell, so it was all action for a stint to get into the Port. We finally landed at Kaika, clocking up another 70 km. Golden sand beach, lush forest, bird song, the place is very special. Back on land it was dry clothes, fire and food. We had just under 30 km to go to complete the trip, and it did really feel that nothing could stop us now. We slept well. The final day we cruised up the coast, around East Cape and into Oban, pulling in just before midday. As you can appreciate, we were very happy. We’d made it, we were safe, we’d worked hard, we’d been gifted with spectacular wilderness and coast. Unpacking our boats it didn't feel like we had any less gear than when we started, we could have lived comfortably on the Island for 10 days, but we’d only taken three days (two half days and two full days). We did have a spare day up our sleeve but we’d opted not to risk it. We didn’t want to get stuck again. We agreed the positive side of doing such a quick trip, was: we’d be back, with more time and a better forecast, but with the same menu.



Issue 89 Autumn 2018



A huge pod of dolphin fishing together at San Telmo Point.

Turbulent waves crashed over the bow of my kayak as my companions and I made our last crossing from Punta Coyote to the mainland. The wind was blowing hard against my face as the fast-moving tide tried to draw me back out to sea. Fortunately, I was in the best shape having just put 300 miles of paddling under my spray skirt. Nevertheless, my whole body ached as I pulled myself to shore and the last stage of our journey was complete. Back to the beginning - Weeks had passed since we left the small mountain town of Telluride in Colorado and headed in my Chevy truck for the West Coast. Tim Smith, owner of the New Zealand based “Bay of Islands Kayak Co.” and long-time companion and hang glider Greg Robinson of Salt Lake City rode with me in the cab. Excitement flowed through us as we anticipated our upcoming adventure in the Sea of Cortez. The trip had been in the planning stages for over six months. Including our gear, we had built a custom rack on the truck to carry all three of our eighteen-foot (5.5 m) kayaks. The drive down the treacherous Baja highway would be an adventure in itself. The large trucks and cattle were our first obstacles. Arriving in Irvine, California, we put the cold November mountain weather behind us and picked up our kayaks at “The Southwind Kayak Co.” As we secured the boats to the roof of the shell, last minute preparations were made putting our food supplies, gear and maps together. Tim stayed PAGE 30

Issue 89 Autumn 2018

by the counter gathering information he felt may be pertinent on the trip. We loaded up and headed South towards the border. Crossing the frontier at Tijuana, a third-world country appeared before us. Snarled traffic, barking dogs and crowing chickens took over our senses. We continued to drive for two full days through the beautiful Baja landscape which was a sea of cactus and boulders until we reached Mulege. Arriving in Mulege, halfway down the Baja peninsula, we found a small campground on an estuary that led into the Sea of Cortez. Here we set up camp and began to pack our kayaks for the long journey ahead. As we loaded our kayaks, Tim reminded us, "Bring only the gear we listed." We registered the distance we had to paddle (300 miles or 482 km) and the importance of keeping the kayaks lean, so a large pile of gear was left behind in the truck. Here in Mulege the truck was parked and secured until we could later arrange to have it moved to La Paz. We paid some locals well enough to keep an eye on it until it could be moved. The following morning, we finished packing the kayaks with 25 gallons of fresh water, food, camping, fishing and survival gear. Our backs strained as it took all three of us to carry each three hundred pound (136 kg) kayak down to the mouth of the estuary. Caution was key as we carried the kayaks, knowing that if one dropped the fiberglass hull, it would crack when it hit the ground.

The estuary was a tunnel of plant life as we headed towards the Sea of Cortez and numerous birds flew out of our way as we arrived at the mouth of the river. It was a calm and overcast afternoon as we paddled through the Bay of Conception and headed for an abandoned fishing camp on the far peninsula. It was here that we realized our journey would be a magical adventure. In the distance, I saw four Orca jumping and frolicking in the calm waters and yelled, "Look at those beautiful whales splashing around,� just to make sure Tim and Greg did not miss this wonderful sight. The three of us moved closer and watched the whales in silence until they disappeared into the blue sea. It was a wonderful way to begin our journey. As we set up camp on the far side of the Bay of Conception, we relished our easy crossing and the whale sighting. We slept with anticipation for our next day’s journey under a clear and starry night. For the first week, my companions and I hugged the rocky coast line marveling at the white sandy beaches and the unique Baja landscape. The fishing was wonderful. We trawled spoons on hand lines enabling us to catch fish with ease. We caught many tuna, dorado, wahoo and roosters which we consumed throughout the trip. At one point, I hooked a huge dorado that nearly flipped me out of my kayak, but fortunately, the sixty pound line snapped before that happened. We also witnessed a group of manta rays gamboling in the sea. They were jumping out of the water at random causing loud slaps upon re-entry. It was wonderful watching their acrobatic feats in the air as we sat in our kayaks.

We camped in a number of picturesque coves that week as we covered 15-20 miles (24-25 km) per day. Pulpito Point was our first rough passage. We camped just north of Pulpito Point and set out early in the morning to try to avoid the high winds. However, the high winds and rough sea persisted making the crossing very dangerous. The winds were blowing 20 knots causing the sea to be extremely choppy. We were all aware that if we came out of our boats rounding the point we could be crashed against the rocks. Fortunately, we made it without harm and pulled ourselves ashore early to recuperate and set up camp in the warm Baja sun. Here we did some snorkeling on a lovely reef for the remainder of the afternoon. It was a great experience as brightly coloured fish surrounded us in the wonderfully warm 240 C degree water. After our first 85 miles (137 km) that week, we came to Coronado Island just off the coast of the town of Loreto. We set up camp on a beautiful beach and watched the sun sink into the horizon creating a rainbow of spectacular colours. As twilight grew into darkness we could see the flickering lights of Loreto in the warm desert night. In the morning we crossed over to Loreto to resupply and explore the old Spanish town. Here we found a fine campsite on the beach on the outskirts of town. After pulling our kayaks to safety, we rented some old bikes to explore the back streets. While in town, I made the necessary arrangements to have the truck moved from Mulege to La Paz so it would be waiting for us at the end of our journey. We stocked up on fresh water and food to carry us through the weeks ahead. Returning to our campsite, we repacked our kayaks with the new provisions then rested under a palm tree and dreamt of tomorrow's 12 mile (19 km) crossing to the Island of Carmen that laid to the southeast of Loreto.

Issue 89 Autumn 2018


The next morning the three of us carried our kayaks down to the surf to make our crossing. The trip was accomplished in under three hours as the wind blew against our backs. Along the way Greg hooked a superb tuna that made fine dining that evening. We set up our tents by the water on the cool sand and watched a group of brown pelicans dive bomb a school of fish just off shore. We slept soundly that night with full stomachs and the sound of lapping waves upon the beach. In the morning we clung to the coast of Carmen Island as we continued to head South. As we reached the end of the island we could see the island of Monseurate in the distance. On the far side of Monseurate Island lay a beautiful camping spot with a blue lagoon. The crossing took two hours with no problems and calm water. Although at one point we were alarmed to see a shark nearby that was as long as the kayaks. The campsite on Monseurate was one of the most scenic of the whole journey. The views were spectacular. To the east and the mainland were the most rugged and lush green mountains, which reminded me of Bora Bora in French Polynesia. The water was a clear bright turquoise and gave us 90 feet (27 m) of visibility to snorkel. That evening we circumnavigated the three mile island fishing. We caught some wonderful wahoo which had with rice. As we relaxed on the rocks, a golden sunset brought another glorious day to an end. After a breakfast of hot oatmeal, we broke camp and crossed back to the mainland. We stayed close to the coastline for the next five days while covering over 100 miles. During this stretch the only people we saw were a few Mexican fishermen. Each night we found wonderful campsites on soft white sandy beaches. As we approached San Telmo Point, we saw a huge pod of dolphin that were herding fish into the corner of the glistening bay. As we neared the pod, the dominant male signaled to the 200 plus dolphins in his pod by flapping tail upon the water. In an instant, all 200 dolphins in the pod lined up and simultaneously exploded out of the blackness of the bay into the air as if they had become a single entity.

That evening we made camp in a lovely box canyon with the sight of the dolphin pod still fresh in our minds. The desert vegetation was lush and thick and the most vivid green. We gathered driftwood for a monstrous bonfire, and had a relaxing evening sitting around the glowing fire reading our maps and discussing our plans for the next few days. We told old adventure stories and laughed until our stomachs hurt. Finally, we crawled into our tents for some much needed sleep. There were still a few days ahead of us. The next day we hugged the massive walls of rock along the coast and spent part of the afternoon exploring dark caves along the way. The tall cliffs dwarfed us and provided shade from the intense sun. We continued southward watching tiny crabs scoot along the bottom of the sea searching for cover from our boats. We stopped occasionally to take photos of the beautiful scenery along the way. As we paddled by the shoreline, we discovered some bleached whale bones. The variety of wildlife was amazing. Brown pelicans lined the beach looking as distinguished as English gentlemen and schools of fish swam underneath us causing the sea to explode with colour in all directions. Occasionally, seals would slide off their perches and into the water to take cover from us. The crossing to San Jose Island was a tough span of open water. The wind was blowing hard on the nose and the current was trying to push us back out to sea. We felt like three corks in a whirlpool. However, with determination we pushed on to the island. As we hugged the coast of San Jose, we noted the dryness and desolation of the island and decided not to stop but continue to San Francisco Island and take a much-needed rest after the rough crossing. We spent the next day resting and hiking in the desert. We would need plenty of rest for the next leg of our journey which would be our longest of the trip. After a day’s respite, we began the 22 mile (32 km) crossing to Espirtu Santo Island. Our journey started at 6:00 am and we watched the skies carefully for any sudden weather changes. The calm weather held up,


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Issue 89 Autumn 2018


but the crossing was exhausting. It took us 5 1/2 hours to reach the safety of the Island. We slept soundly that night knowing the roughest portion of our journey was behind us. The next morning, we paddled over to the seal colony on the far point of the island. It was well worth it. It was an exciting afternoon as we snorkeled with the playful seals in the translucent blue water. The seals would shoot by us doing acrobatics and stop every once in a while, to blow bubbles in our masks. They were magnificent to see under the water. We continued along the coast towards Punta Coyote and our final crossing to the Bay of La Paz. The city of La Paz loomed in the distance. But the winds were high and the seas rough for our In sunnier climes, wearing a PFD becomes uncomfortable and only worn in situations of heightened risk. last crossing. There was no time to relax as we became caught up in a before checking into the hotel for some good food, soft beds and relaxation. tidal change. The final push was a wild rodeo ride as the wind blew and We all needed a few days’ rest. the waves crashed. I remember hitting the beach totally exhausted and completely saturated with sweat. Our sensational adventure was over, and As the three of us drove back north and towards home, we felt a real only later would I find that I had lost over twenty-five pounds (11 kg) over sense of accomplishment as we spotted places along the way where we the 300 mile (482 km) ride. had stopped. We drove for three full days before reaching the U.S. border. As the noise of the crowds began to bring us back to reality, we all knew we We caught a ride with some locals to retrieve our truck from the Lorimar could relish and remember a journey that most people only dream of. Hotel, then drove back down to the beach to pick up our kayaks and gear,


Issue 89 Autumn 2018

Issue 89 Autumn 2018


What to Wear in Winter?

With a winter house-sitting job at Nelson Lakes, Peter Townend’s Challenge in the last magazine’s editorial, and an aging kayak kit – it was time to look at replacing or upgrading my paddling apparel for time both in and on the water. A dry-suit felt a step too far; a wetsuit I found too difficult to heave and haul on and off and impossible to moderate the temperature. I wanted an outfit that looked good; fitted my petite size; and was suitable for my type of kayaking: sea kayaking in waves, wind and rain; rescue practice in cold water; sit-on-top paddling with my dog in calm sunny conditions. I’ve always liked the Sharkskin look – stylish, sleek, sporty…and already had a Sharkskin Rapid Dry Rashie and Performance Wear long sleeved top, designed for torso warmth and sun-protection on the arms. With a paddle jacket, if conditions warranted it, between the two tops I had my bases covered in spring, summer and autumn. Now to get winter sorted. PAGE 36

Issue 89 Autumn 2018

The website was easy to navigate. Quickly I figured out that the Chillproof - Climate Control range would suit MY needs. The long-sleeved top with matching long pants would provide the warmth of my 3 mm wetsuit, but with the half zipper allowed for heat retention or ventilation and would be easy to get on or off. The silver panels would provide UV protection and reflect heat, the stretchy nylon and lycra would repel water, the technical second layer would give wind protection and the furry fleece be cosy and luxurious on the skin. The garments YOU choose have to suit your activity. So, if you’re a kayak surfer or white-water paddler, you’ll probably prefer the Chillproof top with the neoprene neck gasket; and if you spend eight hours on your bottom as a swimmer escort, you might prefer the Performance Wear pants with stretch neoprene in the butt for comfort. The Sizing Chart was very detailed, but daunting for someone who is apparently a size 8 in height and doesn’t have an hour-glass figure. I needed to try garments on. Initially I looked like one of those ‘Rolly’ dogs...I needed to look more seal-like…so down a size I went…and rushed home eager to put my new gear through its paces.

Per usual I put on a merino top and knickers as my first layer, then the Chillproof - Climate control gear. Within minutes I capsized (on purpose!) and did a few “John Wayne” self-rescues, then went for a paddle. Yes, I had got water down my neck, but did I get cold, feel chilled? No. It was only when home again, and stripping off did I feel cold, and that was the bits covered in merino. I rinsed off my gear, inside out, in a bucket of water thinking “that’ll take a couple of days to dry”, but next morning was amazed. The sodden fleece had drained away and felt toasty to touch. The cuffs were a bit damp, but what’s new? So off I went again, this time with Pippa on the S.O.T. It was a warm autumn afternoon, about 19 degrees, and I thought I’d be too hot. But no, with the zipper open I was comfortable. Another rescue practice, another circuit of Bon Accord Harbour and I was soon dry, the hollow fibre fleece wicking away the sea water on my inside, and water beading and dropping off my pants on the outside. Another bonus for a fair sensitive skin was…no itches. With a Sharkskin beanie, gloves and socks yet to trial on Lake Rotoiti… I’m ready for winter, are you?

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Issue 89 Autumn 2018


The “Sound of Music” By James Fitness We are all aware of the benefits of kayak fishing. The stealthy nature of it, being able to get in close to rock formations, the small shadow imprint and the reduced noise. Kayaks have no outboard, and the hull doesn’t slap around as tinnies and larger boats do. Noise travels much further in water than it does through the air, so we need to be aware of how much noise we make. Boaties are often told to cut their engine and don’t use the anchor in fear the fish will be frightened off. So how can we attract fish? Is there such a thing as beneficial noise? I was at a barbeque the other day, talking fishing, as you do. A friend was extolling the virtues of his new boat, and the subsequent improved catch rate. This he puts down in no small part to the reduced hull slapping.


Issue 89 Autumn 2018

He then went on to say how he had been out one day and the fish were not biting. His wife took to singing (she is a professional musician and sings very well). The fish began to bite almost immediately. When she stopped singing, the lines went quiet. So, to test this, he tried it himself. He sang, not so beautifully. Nothing. Mary sang again – BANG! Fish on. Of course, there is no science behind this, but it does make sense that if there is excessive noise, such as hulls slapping or out of tune singing, the fish will scarper, whereas if the noise is pleasant, they may be attracted. It appears fish have an ear for music, so try taking some pleasant music out with you next time. I can just see it, 15 kayak fishoes out on a reef singing along to “the hills are alive, with the sound of music”.



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One Woman’s Journey Through the Inside Passage

Review by: Paul Caffyn Title: Inside Subtitle: One Woman’s Journey Through the Inside Passage Author: Susan Marie Conrad Published: 2016 Publisher: Epicenter Press Website:

Contents: 272pp, central colour plate section, small maps, reference book list, gear list Cover: Hardback with d/j Size: 23 x 160 mms Price: US$ 24.95 ISBN: 978-1-935347-57-6 Availability: NZ$ 31.89 from Review: Paul Caffyn

In the North American Spring of 2010, Susan Conrad launched from Anacortes in Washington, and set off solo paddling for Juneau in South-east Alaska. What do I like about this book? - Susan’s expedition style - her descriptive writing style - Susan’s inner journey as well as the physical side of paddling - her chapter heading quotes - her comprehensive kit list Expedition style – I break down my long distance expeditions into three phases: - planning and research - training - execution

For her first ‘big trip’ Susan did impeccably well with all three. It took me a few years to figure out the prime requirements for my big trips - small things, that prove to be so important when a trip is underway, like annotated maps (some of Susan’s maps with comments from Audrey Sutherland), tide tables, dehydrating meals and, with mailed food parcels, including a letter to the postmaster advising of her trip and an approx. date of arrival. That’s exactly what I did for my Alaskan trip. To me, pre-trip training is so important. On the water ‘realistic’ training is the absolute best, in conditions as close as possible to what will be encountered on the trip. Training in a gym, lifting weights, is a bit like a broken pencil – pointless in my view! Susan spent three months paddle training in southern B.C. Then there was a 100 mile paddle in the fall of 2009 to check out equipment. In terms of the critical criteria for the Inside Passage paddle, she needed a dependable roll, competent navigation and good sea(wo)manship. She had all three. I must admit that some of her paddle distressed me immensely. I was so envious of Susan’s encounters with big and small mammals (whales and bears), knocking off another committing crossing and her sheer joy of finding a magic evening campsite, fresh water, bit sheltered from wind, dry under the tent and a better than average view of the water. Echoes so much of what I loved about the ‘big trips’. Although the issue of weight (kayak and kit) took me several trips to come to terms with, Susan realized from the outset, that the weight of kayak, paddle and kit was extremely important. In the Antipodes we call it the expedition ‘minimalist’ style – boat, paddle, tent, cooking kit and food, all as light as possible. Down to sawing half the handle off the toothbrush – not sure if Susan did that, but she had the minimalist style to heart, which is so important when paddling solo. Susan’s low key approach to the trip also appealed to me, no big prepublicity, no daily website updates, no sponsors to satisfy, no big welcoming party at the conclusion, just the satisfaction and pleasure of achieving an outstanding adventure.


Issue 89 Autumn 2018

I liked Susan’s writing style – very little of day to day diary fashion (launched at 7am, paddled for four hours, wind strong, landed at …) but then not overly doing the serious introspective. Susan’s inner journey adds another dimension to the text; a wretched childhood and running for 40 years from loss of friends and abuse, then like Victoria Jason, making a life changing move in ‘middle age’ and taking up sea kayaking. She is not absolutely focussed on the goal of reaching Skagway, but what I liked so much was Susan’s determination in letting go of her emotional baggage and living the dream, enjoying the paddling for the moment. That is what has been so important for me with the big trips, using my mental and physical skills to make the most of every pleasurable (and not so pleasurable) moment. She is joined by a paddling mate Becky for 11 days out, and accepts a ride on a fishing boat, which offends my sense of purist paddling ethics, but this is Susan’s journey, not mine. The ending is a bit sad. Keep tissues handy – well for the ladies, not for the blokes of course! The chapter heading quotes are better than average and the inclusion of a comprehensive kit list is a grand way to start planning for your own wee paddle up the Inside Passage. There are now more books than you can shake a stick at on paddling or how to paddle, or I’ve paddled, the Inside Passage from the lower 48 (Washington State) north through British Columbian waters to South-east Alaska but this one is comes near to top of the best of the narratives.



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Issue 89 Autumn 2018


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Issue 89 Autumn 2018 Ph: 0800 866322 Recreational and commercial roof rack systems to fit all vehicles and a huge range of accessories including:

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Issue 89 Autumn 2018


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Issue 89 Autumn 2018

Paddler: Sam Ricketts, Photographer: Callum Parker Photo Andrew Cornaga

Issue 89 Autumn 2018


Antioquia – Colombia By Sam Ricketts

Rio Verde camp- Photo Sam Ricketts PAGE 46

Issue 89 Autumn 2018

Issue 89 Autumn 2018


Passing the season virtually anywhere in South America is the perfect option for the traveling white water kayaker and/or rafter. Over the past eight years I’ve sporadically travelled to South America, exploring Patagonia in Argentina, Southern Chile and Colombia. The cultures, friendships, quality of rivers and life makes it hard for me to resist returning. Colombia specifically, is a paradise that is quickly turning into one of the top tourist/white water destinations in all Latin America.

Sam on the Samana- Photo Jules Domine

The vast and diverse country that borders Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Venezuela has a vibrant albeit dark history. For over 50 years Colombians endured a brutal civil war due to political unrest and heavy drug production and trafficking, tearing the country apart and deeming tourism almost non-existent. Now in 2018, after official peace treaties have been agreed upon between the government and rebel guerrilla groups, Colombia is safer than it has ever been and tourism is now an industry that is skyrocketing, and for good reason; Colombia has both an Atlantic and Caribbean coast, it is blanketed in Amazonian rainforest, holds the world record with over 1900 recorded bird species(18% of the

world’s bird population), snow-capped peaks (5775m is the highest), endless river systems to be explored all year round, the list goes on. My first trip to Colombia was in 2012 with five fellow kayakers. We were amazed by the hospitality of the locals, often meeting farmers and fishermen on the banks and being invited in for hot food. Areas that were once red zones are now open and safe for the public, meaning that all we needed to do was to pull up google earth, pick our river and go. Classic sections and multiple days with no shortage of rain water are everywhere. Great food, year-long spring weather and multiday kayaking paradise. This year I spent another summer season in Antioquia, Colombia in a small mountain town named Cocorna. A close friend Dan Dunn is now based in Cocorna, operating a kayaking and rafting company on rivers in the valley, four years after we completed the first descent of the Cocorna River with another friend of ours, Pete Lodge. During the war, the rebel guerrillas used the town as a base. Bombs were set off in the streets and they took everything they could from the locals, forcing them to spend most of their time confined to their homes. The local people of Cocorna lived in constant fear and in a sense, imprisonment.

Today the safe, incredibly friendly and beautiful pueblo (town) of Cocorna is hands down the perfect hub for kayaking in Antioquia. From the Cocorna River branches an amazing drainage of classic rivers with deep gorges, dense jungle, white water galore. Rios (rivers) including: Rio Calderas, Rio Verde and the Famous Rio Samana, all drain into the Magdalena River. Colombia has two main river systems: The Magdalena River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean and the Cauca, which drains into the Amazon Basin. This area is pure wilderness. Alongside the many kayaking and rafting opportunities, it’s also jungle, river, waterfall and paragliding galore. The Rio Cocorna flows right next to the town and it’s easy to shuttle on top of a Chiva (the local, slow, very cheap, colourful and glamourous old four-wheel transport) and receive a scenic tour with your boat to the local section. It’s only one Kiwi dollar for a return trip which is hard to beat for one hour of awesome Grade Four. Then grab a cup of coffee or a lunch at the store and repeat. It is also possible put in from the highway, but this section is steep and serious Grade Five. If you want one of the best multi-days of your life, you can start in Cocorna and finish on the Rio Magdalena. Which would be six to seven days of world class multiday Grade Four to Five kayaking.

It’s important to remember while you’re enjoying the warm creeks and big water rivers, that Colombia also boasts some of the world’s most poisonous reptiles and insects. It is essential to do your research on the types of snakes in the area, wear repellent for mosquitos and buy a cheap machete for portaging/ setting up camp. Some of the most naturally beautiful places I have ever seen have been deep in these jungles. We are so lucky to be able to pass through such potentially volatile and unforgiving places in our kayaks while running white water, observing untouched landscapes as they have been for thousands of years. A place so packed with life and booming with the sound of birds and insects, it can sometimes hurt your ears! Colombia isn’t just Grade Five jungle descents, it has many great beginner to intermediate runs, something for everyone. Climate, hospitality, a very smooth and easy to understand accent of Spanish which is great if you are beginning to learn. Book a flight, come and experience it for yourself.

Issue 89 Autumn 2018


Lachie on the Rio Suarez- Photo Sam Ricketts

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