D'Urville Island

This years Easter trip was to be a circumnavigation of Durville Island by kayak - something I was woefully under prepared for given my lack of kayaking experience.  Nevertheless on a sunny morning six of us congregated at French Pass, unfortunately to discover that we had misinterpreted the tides and the tidal flow was going at a fair rate in the wrong direction.  After a brief discussion we headed for a friends private property west of French Pass to launch there instead of waiting several hours for the tide to change.

D'Urville Map

D'Urville Map


Once final gear preparations were made - mostly taking things out until everything fit inside the boats - we were off!  We had a light breeze as we headed across the ocean and around the south west corner of D'Urville and through Paddock Rocks.  Not long after we came across a school of fish jumping about in the water - we soon found out why as a sizable shark leaped clear out of the water some 30m away!  Apart from that we had little else to look at as we cruised towards Greville Harbour; the sea was somewhat soupy which didn't do my stomach any wonders but soon enough we landed near the entrance of Greville Harbour for a bit of a walk about looking at Argillite flakes, and an early dinner of Paua, watercress, onions and Pita bread.  We also bumped into Nelson personality Pearl the Pirate who was sailing about in her blue catamaran.  We eventually headed across the harbour to our camp for the night  and it was well dark by the time we arrived to set up our tents, got some dry clothes on, had second dinner, and eventually headed off to bed.

Greville Harbour

Greville Harbour

I'd be lying if I said it was a particularly active morning on day 2 - we eventually rolled out of bed as we were aware that the owner of the nearby house was in residence and was wanting to take his boat out and we were camping in the middle of the road.  After clearing the road of tents cookers and kayaks a few of us headed off for a casual stroll around the lagoon soaking up the sunshine.

Moawhitu Lagoon

Moawhitu Lagoon

Plane landing at Greville Harbour

Plane landing at Greville Harbour

Eventually we decided that we should make some sort of progress towards Port Hardy, so we had lunch and headed north on a flat sea.  We stayed close to the coast line, scooting through narrow gaps, and getting up close to a few sea caves and blow holes.  As we arrived into Port Hardy, we stopped at a small beach to collect dinner - consisting of Paua, Blue Cod and Rass.  There were also at least a dozen boats out making the most of the calm and sunny conditions to keep us company.

Dinner

Dinner

We headed up to the South Arm campsite for the night to cook up our catch, but unfortunately one bottle of Sprig and Fern Ale was taken by the tide while it was cooling down.  Despite some searching out in the kayak under moonlight it was not rediscovered and so we mourned its loss and tucked into the wine instead.

As the forecast predicted, the next day was a bit miserable with a stiff breeze and squally rain rolling through.  We passed the time by the fire, making damper, nibbling at leftover fish and having extra naps.  After lunch we decided to head a little further north to make the next day around Stephens Passage a bit easier so we headed out of the safety of inlet and out into the open ocean.  The wind was gusting over 30 knots and the waves were over 2m at times which made for slow but exciting progress - on the big waves the whole front half of the boat or more would get airborne and then come crashing back down accompanied by creaking and groaning of the timber which did make one feel slightly nervous.  At one point a small navigational mishap resulted in us having to turn around which meant having the sea behind us, and I was given a very rude introduction to controlling the kayak with a strong following sea - quite scary for the first few waves while I worked it out, especially with some very uncomfortable looking rocks nearby.  Eventually in the interest of everyone's safety we decided to call it a day and we headed in to Skull Bay, where there was a good landing spot in the lee of Victory Island.  Thankful that we were all still in one piece we set up camp, got a roaring fire going and tucked into some more wine.

Skull Bay

Skull Bay

The next day was an early start - up at 5am so we could catch the slack tide up at Stephens Passage around 9.  The forecast was again bang on the money and we had no wind and a nearly flat sea.  What I was expecting to be the wildest part of the journey turned out to be quite straightforward, although the paddle through the very narrow Hell's Gate was fun enough even in fine conditions.

Tea break near Hapuka Rocks

Tea break near Hapuka Rocks

We spent the day cruising around some of the outer islands - one of which is now predator free and a bird sanctuary with a small population of Takahe.  We collected our dinner of Cod, Butterfish and Paua and headed for the Penguin Bay campsite where we celebrated our final night on the Island by having a big feed by a big fire.

We had a easy final day - the tide at French Pass didn't turn until 2.30pm so we got there an hour early to watch.  After a while I was beginning to doubt that such a strong current was going to change direction but sure enough with 10 minutes to go it started to slow down and we paddled through against the current just before it turned around to make things exciting.  From there it was a easy finish to the trip.

 

| April 2nd, 2018 | Posted in Storytime |

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