45. Mistletoe Bay – Kumutoto Bay (Queen Charlotte 2/5)

Monday, March 27: Foggy to begin with, clearing about lunchtime, with a lively east wind coming up in the afternoon, a couple of clouds

Sea kayaking: 19.9 km

Kumutoto Bay Campsite ($6, Doc)

It had rained a little during the night, but nothing too serious and when we were up at 7:30 the bay was very still and shrouded in fog. The door to the kitchen had been & remained closed for the night so our food was ready for eating. Christelle offered up her porridge and I supplied some sugar. We took all that she had left of it, microwaved it, and it was enough for the two of us. I put some condensed milk in as well.

Everything had to be packed up: The tents as wet as they were, then everything carted down to the boat. I had estimated high tide @ 11:30 and it was just on 9:30 so that whatever time we decided to leave the tide would be highest as near as dammit. I elected for trying the camera and its mount out and got everything together, except that I had forgotten how to put the camera into continuous mode (yet again) and left the camera running for the first part of the trip without taking any photos.

Into the wind and storm. GPS quality: 30/30, coverage: 100%, download: Mistletoe Bay - Kumutoto Bay GPX (56 downloads)

We glided down into the channel with various changes in the fog but the sea as still as a mirror. A couple of shags were hanging out on the rocks with a few Pacific gulls, and then I spotted a *couple* of dorsal fins as we reached Hautehoro Point. In the course of the next five minutes or so we became engulfed in a whole pod of dolphins – they were huge and we were right in the middle of them. One took course for us, jumped out of the water and then swam under the boat where I could see the scratches on his back. They were then past us and we headed through the ever denser fog in the direction of Lochmara. They must have been saying to each other, “Gave those yellow guys with the two heads a run for their money, haha.”

Reaching Lochmara at just after 11:00 we got out for a look and walk around (day visitor pass without kayak use, $5). Not much really. The lizards were all hiding, and pigs & chooks can be viewed elsewhere. One of the turtles was on its back, alive but only just. Back at the café the toilets could be made use of; there was a talking parrot (some pet species) and a couple of picnic benches and tables that could be made use of for lunch, a couple of crackers each with butter and cheese, an apple and some trail mix. The aquarium viewing times were later in the afternoon, which would have been too late for us; another possibility would be to buy lunch at the restaurant. With all said and done we were ready to take up the track again at 1:00.

This time I got the camera running – not in continuous mode, but with a lapse of 0 s in rawopint. Then we set off for the afternoon paddle. Up until we reached the channel everything was going smoothly, then we ran into the east wind, which was just starting to cause white tops. A pretty tumultuous ride ensued across Double Cove, with me desperately trying to keep the boat off the rocks, but with the waves coming from the east and us going east we were rolling about quite significantly, and one wave rolled over my back.

We decided to turn north into Torea Bay and beach there for a bit of a breather at 1:40. Christelle put a call through to MSA but they had no news of any impending change in the weather. In the meantime the wind appeared to have dropped and we decided to chance it to Piheka Point and return if it was going to be as rough again. Putting on a brave face we left at 2:30. As we went across the bay the wind did appear to pick up again, but it was smoother as we made our way southward.

Turning the point things did become rougher again but we appeared to maintain better control of the boat. We could see another couple of kayakers apparently heading for Blackwood Bay. We headed over to the sheltered shore beyond Kumutoto Point and then saw the other two taking a beeline, first for a picnic spot and then for the campsite. We took a break at a jetty in the sheltered zone and the sea was indeed finally becoming calmer with every paddle stroke. The campsite was reached at 4:20.

The others – Graham & Warwick from Sydney – had landed just before us and we all assisted in taking the kayaks up the beach. The tents were set up (and mine was almost dry), the meals sorted into various bags, and it was already 5:40. The meal tonight was tuna, peas & rice with tomato sauce: One cup of rice, 100 g of surprise peas, three cups of water boiled for 10 minutes was fine, with the tuna mixed in & tomato sauce added on top.

Not much water here, so it will have to be boiled. However, we have 4 L with us, which could do until the next campsite. Night has closed in on us and I still have to brush my teeth. Due to the cold ground last night I have to put on all the clothing (and will keep it on, have used a drytop to supplement the pillow which appears to be on its last legs, and will lie on the raincoat for insulation).

A weka was heard at dusk and the bright lights of Picton and Waikawa shone as beacons across the bay. Everyone was abed by 9:00 to the tune of waves crashing on the beach and gusts of winds in the trees.