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New Zealand Kayaking

Don’t forget to bring a pair of sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen, to avoid a sunburn!Find out what New Zealand kayaking is like. That’s what we were after a couple of years ago when we decided to book a one day kayaking adventure in the Marlborough Sounds. And we were not disappointed at all! After a short time of paddling, we found ourselves suddenly surrounded by at least eight small dolphins (Hector dolphins), all playing around our kayak! A truly amazing experience! We didn’t even take our camera out, afraid to chase them. We just stopped paddling and watched until they left again. After a while they indeed did, and we continued our trip.

But let’s start at the beginning. We had never kayaked before, so we were a little bit nervous when we arrived in Anakiwa, where we rented our double kayak for the day. Anakiwa is located almost at the end of the Queen Charlotte Sound, not too far from Picton and Havelock. It looked like a quiet place to start our New Zealand kayaking adventure. And it was. Though the Marlborough Sounds are in fact open sea, it doesn’t feel like it because of the many bays and inlets. The shore is never far away! It was a nice, sunny day, without wind, and we first received a very professional and extensive instruction. We were explained in detail how to get into our kayak, how to fasten the spray skirts, how to act when something is wrong and, of course, how to hold and use the paddles! We paddled in undeep water for a while, trying to acquire the basic skills, and after about half an hour, we felt safe enough to set off.

We had opted for a double kayak (with two cockpits), so we would be able to stay together, no matter what. Kayaking didn’t turn out to be all that hard, and we stopped after two hours for lunch on a deserted picnic spot. A kayak has ample storage space, we were told in advance, so we brought lots of food and enjoyed a delicious lunch! We sunbathed, went for a short walk, paddled for another hour or two, and at the end of the afternoon returned to Anakiwa again. And that was the end of our first New Zealand kayaking day!

Since that first experience, a few years have passed. We’ve done some more kayaking trips in New Zealand, but the Marlborough Sounds is still one of our favourite spots for a kayaking adventure. The last time we’ve paddled there, we didn’t see any dolphins, but we did see a seal from a very short distance, and a big sting ray, just below us on the sea floor. The weather was not as nice as the first time, but as the Marlborough Sounds are very sheltered, we still enjoyed two fantastic kayaking days!

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