Tara mulvany


Bay of Islands to Whangarei

Posted by Tara Mulvany on February 20, 2014 at 11:30 PM

After two days in Kerikeri I paddled out across the Bay of Islands, sun shining, kayak loaded and feeling strong and ready for a few days of cruising. I had picked up a hitch hiker from Opua Bay, and Hermin, my bright green praying mantis friend clung on tightly to my front deck. As I paddled, he cruised about, climbing high on the bungies to admire the view, and hiding in the shade of my drink bottle when things got too hot.


I jumped out at Roberton Island to play tourist, and went for a swim in the clear green water before continuing on. Hermin stayed with me. I camped on Urepukapuka Island for the night, the grass was soft, the sky clear and the moon big and bright. The third full moon of my journey. It would have been perfect, but that night Hermin disappeared.


The next morning I set off for Cape Brett. As far as capes go, Cape Brett was a bit of a letdown. I'm not sure how it got its cape status, in my opinion capes should be dramatic places, headlands where the oceans meet, where the winds and the seas continually rage. Cape Reinga and South West Cape are well deserved capes. But Cape Brett, really?


A friend had drawn all over my maps of the Northland coast, making the places that I had to visit along the way. Ginney had scribbled a tick box beside a small island off the cape and wrote, "you have to paddle through the hole in the rock. Watch out for high speed tour boats!" The hole turned out to be massive with boats galore. I paddled in and took my time, taking a couple of photos and some go pro footage before i made my way out the other side. I didn't care that I'd made a few boats wait for their turn to motor through. After all, I'd paddled a long way to get there.


I paddled a huge 20km that day and camped under a giant pohutukawa tree at an old whaling base at Whangamumu. I went for a swim in the afternoon sun and ended up onboard a very tidy yacht, drinking a cup of tea and eating home baked cookies. I listened to the stories of Craig and Mary about their life at sea. They had spent 12 and a half years sailing around the world, including three crossings of the Indian Ocean. That's a half of my lifetime they'd been at sea, living adventures that most will only ever read about. It made my trip sound pathetic.


From Whangamumu I made a bee line for Oakura. On my map were the words "good F&Cs". Enough to make me paddle fast. A few hours later I was sitting on the grass beside the beach eating my fish and chips. On such a hard core adventure eh?


My day ended early again, at a small bay ringed with gnarly pohutukawas, lush grass and golden sand. I lay in the sun and swam in the warm clear water. What more could I have wished for. If I had been smart I would have wished for calm conditions for the next few days. But I wasn't, and the next day I spent 12 hours slogging into a south easterly wind, on a very sloppy sea. I stopped at Matapouri Bay for lunch and after an L&P and a mince and cheese pie I was back into it, the lunch of champions!


I pulled up in a bay 12km north of Bream Head and walked up to the farmhouse to ask permission to camp. I introduced myself to Reece, and he pulled me inside to meet his wife. "Mona! We've got a mermaid!" He called out. Classic. Over a feed of watermelon they asked me a million questions, shaking their heads in disbelief that I had paddled from Picton. They had been married for more than 60 years. I wondered about the secret of living such a long and happy life. Maybe to live by the sea? I hope I look that fantastic when I'm in my 80's, but somehow I doubt it. Time will tell.


The next morning I paddled away, into a driving wind on a messy sea. A few hours later I rounded Bream Head, it's towers of rock covered in a thick mist. Native trees clung to the steep headland, and the waves broke heavily on the rocks. It made me feel like I was back in Fiordland. But I was struggling to appreciate the beauty around me, all I could think about was my desperate need to pee. It was too lumpy and sloppy a sea for me to think about taking my spray deck off so I just paddled fast, hoping and praying that I'd make it to calmer waters before it was game over. A few minutes later I pulled off my deck and did my thing while waves sloshed in over the side.. But I made it!!


I camped at Peach Cove for the night. It was an awesome campsite surrounded by giant pouhutakawas and nikau palms with camelian trunks, changing from bright green to purple and then to brown. The mist stayed hanging over the steep hills and I was alone in paradise.


I packed my life into my kayak late the next day, and as the rain began to fall I cruised towards the entrance of Whangarei Harbour. Huge gusts of easterly wind threw me along, and an hour later I pulled up inside the heads and walked up to a dairy. My dreams of hot donuts, fish and chips and chicken nuggets were crushed. "Sorry, no takeaways today." Are you kidding me?!! So I wandered back to the beach and ate a packet of crackers and a can of tuna in the rain.


That night I saw the first familiar face since leaving Auckland a few weeks before. And it didn't even matter that it was an ugly one, it was just good to be in the company of a friend. I stayed on Damans bird shit covered yacht, the Kiwi Logic, and we had a few drinks to celebrate my birthday. Now, after two days off waiting for the easterlies to die down I'm ready for the run to Cape Rodney tomorrow.  Maybe on Monday i'll make the crossing to Great Barrier?  I hope so!!

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Reply graham
3:28 AM on February 24, 2014 
wondering where your at perhaps a lay day with those howling S/W winds travel well Tara
Reply Aunty D.
4:54 PM on February 22, 2014 
Oh, I miss the "F&C"s as much as you did at the dairy that didn't have take-aways that night :(
Guess you'll be catching Jess fairly soon!
Reply Graham Jones
3:40 PM on February 22, 2014 
looks like your clocking the klm's from your track ...... travel well Tara!!
Reply Ash
8:11 PM on February 21, 2014 
Blowen away with your boldness Tara, love how your keen to just meet people and share your journey! Go Hard!
Reply Peter and Su Sommerhalder
4:04 AM on February 21, 2014 
Keep those paddles spinning and the enjoyable stories flowing. We are proud of you. Will we see you in Auckland after "bagging" Great Barrier? Or will it be from Tryphena to Cape Colville? Cheers, Su and Peter
Reply Graham Jones
12:07 AM on February 21, 2014 
Hi Tara lovely to read your blog I surfed that coastline as a grommet and spent many happy nights at peach cove sounds like it hasn,t changed ....
Travel well