Te Pukatea Bay to Onetahuti Beach, New Zealand

Distance: 0 miles
Time on bike: 0 hours

We try and get going at a relatively early time so we can make the most of the kayak before needing to drop it off further up the coast where it’s scheduled to be collected at 3.15 pm. We have a very enjoyable breakfast with Petrea and Richmond from Auckland and Thomas from Poland before getting on our way at 10 am. It’s been great to meet up with them and we say our goodbye’s on the beach and exchange contact details before paddling off.

The reason we’re keen to get going is because we’ve had recommendations from two people to go and visit a place called Shag Harbour as, apart from being a nice tidal inlet, is also home to many young seals.

We first call in to see Frenchmans Bay, which is a lovely little tidal inlet which we can navigate through with the kayak. We then paddle by Sandfly Bay and then on to Pinnacle Island where we see a few seals, again looking quite lazy taking in the sun while basking on the rocks.

Mosquito Bay is another tidal inlet which is lovely to see and thankfully the high tide is timed perfectly for us to get in with the kayak as anything bigger would probably get stuck as the water is only about 30 cm deep.

It’s then a paddle around the coast to visit the Tonga Arches where we have a little play in the kayak going in and out of the arches as the waves take us in and then spit us back out. It’s great using rented equipment. We then pop over to Tonga Island where we see our first young seal pups playing around in the water. Although we’re supposed to keep a 20 m distance from the rocks, we see two speed boats parked up in an inlet, so we have a little nosey in.

There are quite a few seals in the water playing around the two speedboats which are just leaving when we arrive. One of the girls has been in the water swimming with the seals, which looked like it could be good fun. The seals are quite inquisitive of the kayak and swim around us. They pop their heads up and give us a sniff and it’s not long before we have a seal launch itself out of the water and into the middle of the kayak between us. We’d heard of this happening to some other people and it was a fantastic experience.

The baby seal has a wander around the kayak and comes up to Carl to give him a bit of a sniff. They certainly aren’t shy. We then have a few seals hopping on and off the kayak as if a new toy has just turned up and at one point we have three seals on the kayak – two in the middle and one behind Carl. They seem to love chewing the plastic toggles on the kayak and anything else they can get in their mouth. We try giving them a tickle and a stroke, but most react as if something is trying to bite them. It’s only when they swim past with their belly up do they accept a little tickle.

We eventually have to make a move as we then have a tough paddle to make it up to Shag Harbour as the kayak is being picked up in a couple of hours. We motor on and head up the coast, past the point where we’re not really supposed to go beyond, and up to Shag Harbour.

This is another tidal inlet and is a haven for young seals. It’s right at the end of the inlet where the water is full of them playing around, chasing each other and larking about. When we turn up with the kayak, again it’s like the new toy has just been wheeled in and they start swimming around and it’s not long before they’re hopping onto the deck of the kayak.

We stay in the inlet for about an hour, which was certainly the highlight of the whole kayak trip and amazing that it’s not mentioned by the kayak hire company as somewhere to go and visit. Seeing seals in the zoo will never be quite the same again.

We then need to do a swift paddle back down the coast to Onetahuti Beach where we’re dropping off the kayak and camping for the night. We get there at about 3 pm and get unpacked and lie down on the beach to relax.

Our schedule for tomorrow is to walk up along the coast to Totaranui, however the weather forecast isn’t good and four other people dropping kayaks off are calling it a day here and cancelling their last day. We decide to do the opposite and extend the trip by another day so we can get all the way up the coast to visit Mutton Cove, which was recommended by Thomas who we met the other night.

With that confirmed we get the tent pitched and settle down for an early night. After the sociable evening last night, tonight is a much more quiet affair with the other campers keeping themselves to themselves. We have an early start in the morning as we need to catch the low tide further up the coast which means we need to get going at 7 am, which is basically sunrise, so we’ll be getting up and packed away in the dark.

For dinner, as we’re trekking tomorrow we try to get rid of the heavier food items so have the kumara with courgette with a tin of sardines. We’ve had to also string out the food as the planned three day trip has now turned into four days.

Food status: 1/2 x carton of milk, 500 g bag of oats, 3 x oranges, 1 x loaf of bread (-8 slices), 2 x pot noodles, 1 x sardine tin, 1 x carrot, 1 x packed of sliced pastrami (-4 slices), 2 x cheese slices, 1 x jar of sun dried tomatoes, 10 squares of chocolate, 1 x packet of ANZAC biscuits (11 remaining), 1 x packet of mixed nuts, 2 x tea bags, 1 x US Army energy drink sachets.

Jour 369 – Vendredi 22 Avril 2011. De Te Pukatea Bay à Onetahuti Beach, Nouvelle-Zélande.

Distance: 0 km – Temps à moto: 0 heures

On essaye de partir assez tôt ce matin comme il y a pas mal de choses à voir en kayak aujourd’hui et on doit rendre le kayak à Onetahuti à 3h15 cet après-midi. Mais on déjeune avec Richmond, Patrea et Thomas et comme on discute pas mal, et du coup on ne part qu’à 10 heures, mais on devrai réussir a tout voir quand même.

On commence par aller voir quelques petites baies qui ne sont accessibles en kayak qu’à marée haute : la baie des français, la baie des puces de sable et la baie des moustiques. La première baie est vraiment sympa et on y est un peu tôt pour la marée, ce qui fait que le kayak passe juste, il n’y a vraiment pas beaucoup d’eau, et en sortant il fait foncer un peu car la marée nous repousse dans la baie. Les autres baies sont au peu plus grandes mais sympa quand même. On va ensuite voir les deux iles ou il y a des colonies de phoques, l’Ile Pinnacle ou quelques phoques semblent faire la sieste au soleil, puis en faisant un passage le long de la cote par les Arches de Tonga, on va vers l’ile de Tonga ou on trouve une eau superbe et claire, et plein de jeunes phoques curieux, quand on reste un peu calmes, l’un ou l’autre ose monter sur le kayak pour nous voir de plus près et essayer de jouer avec nos pagaies. Ils sont vraiment adorables avec leurs grands yeux noirs et leurs moustaches, mais ils ont l’air nerveux quand on essaye de les caresser.

On y passe un bon moment, ne croyant pas notre chance, on avait entendu que c’était arrivé à d’autres gens en kayak, mais on ne pensait pas avoir cette chance. On arrive enfin a nous détacher de ce lieu idyllique pour aller voir un autre endroit qui est censé être superbe : Shag harbour.

C’est assez loin et c’est un bon détours, mais ça vaut le coup, quand on arrive c’est une baie superbe et bien cachée, et on y entre par un passage étroit, il y a l’un ou l’autre phoque ici et la, puis, tout au bout, vers la fin de la baie, il y a plein de jeunes phoques qui jouent comme des fous dans l’eau, et ils ne sont pas perturbés quand on arrive, à nouveau,  à tour de rôle, ils montent sur notre kayak et jouent avec les pagaies et mordillent tout ce qu’ils peuvent. C’est un vrai plaisir de les voir de si près, dans leur environnement naturel.

On reste dans le coin une bonne heure, et ça nous donnera de superbes souvenirs, c’est bien qu’on ai croisé des gens qui nous aient parle de ce bel endroit.

On pagaie ensuite au plus vite pour arrive à temps a Onettahuti ou on doit rendre le kayak qui est repris par la compagnie de location. On est un peu fatigues, on profite donc de la jolie plage presque vide pour nous y installer et nous y reposer. Demain on a prévu de marcher jusqu’à Totaranui, mais la prévision météo n’est pas bonne, il est sensé pleuvoir, quatre autres personnes qui devaient faire la même chose ont annulé et rentrent à Marahau en bateau plus tôt que prévu, mais on décide de  faire l’oppose et de rester un jour de plus pour aller plus au Nord, car Thomas nous a dit que ça vaut le coup.

On s’installe au camping et on passe une soirée tranquille, il n’y a pas grand monde ici. On doit partir tôt demain matin car on a deux traversées de baies qui ne sont possible qu’a marée basse, et comme la marée basse est a 9h30 demain, on nous a conseillé de partir du camping a 7 heures du matin. On se couche donc assez tôt après avoir mangé le plus de choses Lourdes possibles car demain il nous faut tout porter, ça sera plus dur qu’en kayak!

On a calculé qu’on aura assez a manger pour un jour de plus, mais après ca il nous faudra retourner quelque part ou il y a un magasin.