Saturday, 23 June 2012

Okarito to Hokitika & a surf landing in the dark

It's about time we kept our readers happy with some epic West Coast antics!  We were starting to get worried our adventure seemed boring, so here goes...

We left the small town of Okarito early in the morning of the shortest day of the year.  The tide was low and we paddled out the mouth of the lagoon and into the surf.  We were relaxed as it didn't look to epic but the first big wave I punched launched me backwards and flipped me over.  I rolled up and tried to gain forwards momentum before the next one hit- for a couple of seconds I was teetering on the edge with a paddle blade clawing at the top of the wave trying to hold my ground whilst the rest of the wave tried to suck me back.  After finally breaking through I boosted out the back and looked over to see Sim making it though no worries.  

The sun was rising as we paddled towards Abut Point and within about an hour I could not hold it off any longer and I gave the fish a wee feed.  The going was slow, and as the hours ticked by I keep chundering.  The closer we got to Greens Beach the more we realised that we wearn't going to make it that day.  We had a look on the map and it looked like it might be an okay landing about 6km before Greens.  When we finally paddled into view of this beach, large waves rolled in and the thought of landing through this surf didn't seem too appealing.  It was 5pm and the sun had just disapeared- if we boosted it we might get to Greens before things got really dark.  The lemons were adding up but we decided to go for it.

Daylight was disappearing fast and we tried to radio KT to get an update on our landing situation.  No luck.  A tiny orange dot in the distance momentarily put our minds at ease, KT obviously had a fire going on the beach- at least we would have somewhere to aim for.  We finally negotiated our way in through the surf.  Sim went in first and disappeared.  I followed and managed to get in a wild side surf in the darkness.  After a second side surf I launched up onto the sand.  

KT's comment was "a bit on the late side, but I call that a success" haha. Being on land was awesome, and having a raging fire going and dinner on the go was a job well done by KT! It was a long day- nothing quite like paddling 45km on a packet of raro!

The next morning we got up early ready for the 45km paddle to Hokitika.  Sim cruised off through the surf first and made it out the back sweet.  I followed and managed to get about half way out before getting slammed and back surfed most of the way back in again.  Wave after wave I couldn't make and headway, the sets just kept rolling in.  I was getting dominated.  After feeling like i couldn't take any more, I finally I made it out the back.  

The day was as perfect as could be until we neared Hokitika later in the day.  Huge waves rolled into the river mouth, it clearly was not a go-er  for a landing.  We paddled further north towards the edge of town where KT was waiting for us.  The waves were breaking way out and it looked like it could be messy.  I went in first and just as I got into the surf zone saw a huge wave about to eat me.  I threw myself into it but it trashed me upside down.  I rolled up and took a few strokes before the next one slammed into me.  I was upside down, rolled half up, got smashed by the next one then did the long swim of shame into the beach.  Sim made it in sweet with no dramas at all, not even a broken paddle.  When I finally got on land my pants were around my knees haha. 

At least all that was hurt was my pride and the only casualty was a jandal and a sponge.  Maybe a bit on the damp side, but I'll call it a success! Character building i think its called.  

So now we are in Greymouth staying with Sim's friend Jono until the weather improves.  It's about 45K westerly at the moment which isn't that ideal.  If anyone's keen to come and join our journey, get in touch, paddling on the West Coast really is awesome! 

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