This summer I met BRENT BOURGEOIS, a well known Mount local and we discovered a shared passion for the environment. He had an idea to SUP (stand up paddleboard) from AUCKLAND to TAURANGA and asked if I wanted to come as support crew. Thinking it was ‘just a bit of talk’, I said, “Yeah, for sure.” Brent tagged me on Facebook and announced the paddle, and I thought , “Oh hell!” It was on. The set date: February 23rd. The reason: Because it was there to be done!

DAY ONE

DISTANCE TRAVELLED: 65 KM

My upper body was ready, but sit­ting for so long was going to hurt. We launched just after sun­rise with an out­go­ing tide, passed Ran­gi­to­to Island and head­ed out to the open. I was excit­ed about the marine life, and the Hau­raki Gulf did not dis­ap­point. Being tailed by mako sharks and dol­phins that put on a spec­tac­u­lar show were high­lights. The con­di­tions were silky calm, right up until about 8 km from land­ing, when the wind picked up. Brent’s focus and strength saw him through to the end, though. We land­ed at Port Jack­son and enjoyed a stun­ning sun­set over a bar­be­que.

DAY TWO

DISTANCE TRAVELLED: 57 KM

Today we real­ly had to watch out for each oth­er, as round­ing the point at the top of the Coro­man­del Penin­su­la was not for the faint­heart­ed. The swell was around two metres and with con­fused water com­ing at all angles, it was one of the scari­est moments of my kayak­ing career. We got through the worst of it to be faced with dark clouds that rolled in fast. The heav­ens opened and ham­mered down on us. We were then con­front­ed by a head wind and were quick­ly run­ning out of time to land. I sat in the kayak for a total of 12 hours solid. And it hurt. Big time. We final­ly arrived at Opi­to Bay and I was very hap­py to fall out of the kayak and onto dry land.

DAY THREE

DISTANCE TRAVELLED: 60 KM

I spent last night in a cab­in, so a good bed helped to ease my aching and bro­ken body. We set off on yet anoth­er pearler of a day, with a plan to stop at Hahei for cof­fee, then on to our des­ti­na­tion at Whanga­mata. It was all plain sail­ing until around 5 km out, when a head wind picked up and made for a slow trip in. We pow­ered up with elec­trolytes and bars to keep us fuelled dur­ing the­se last few kilo­me­tres, so we were ‘all smiles’ as we round­ed the point to come in for land­ing. That was, until I saw the surf. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of kayak surf­ing, but not in a sea kayak with gear onboard and cam­eras out in the open!

DAY FOUR

DISTANCE TRAVELLED: 61 KM

My wet shirt made for a slight­ly uncom­fort­able start, but it didn’t mat­ter because the surf was still pump­ing as we walked towards the glow­ing sun­rise. I opt­ed for pow­er­ing through rather than tim­ing the sets, and it was a refresh­ing way to wake up. At the south­ern end of Whanga­mata, we could just see The Mount! The adren­a­line was pump­ing, and we went for it. After a quick stop for cof­fee in Wai­hi Beach, we were ready to tack­le any­thing, even the Bowen­town Bar which was just rock­in’ and made for some fun surf­ing. Past 20 km of Matakana Island, Mauao was like a wel­com­ing giant stand­ing above us. Emo­tions start­ed to flow. I had close friends around The Mount, wav­ing and cheer­ing, and the old eyes were def­i­nite­ly water­ing. As we drew closer to Pilot Bay, we were met with applause. It took some doing, but we had made it! Life is short. Don’t let it slip by.

TOTAL DISTANCE TRAVELLED: 243 KM

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