Paddling the Bay
New Zealand’s Bay of Islands is located on the north-east coast of the North Island. Maori called the Bay Ipipiri, however Captain Cook re-named it the Bay of Islands in 1769 on account of it being a bay of islands. Paddling the Bay’s intricate coastline promised a unique perspective on this beautiful area, so I set about organising a multi-day kayak trip.
At first, the hire company were reluctant to rent me a sit-in sea kayak as I would be heading out by myself. However after explaining to the manager that I was born in a kayak, had been raised by kayaks and had been paddling since before I could walk (none of which is strictly true) he agreed. We checked the forecast and picked three days that sat within the company’s safety guidelines.
On the morning of departure I shoe-horned my camping gear, supplies and myself into the kayak and set out from Paihia. As I rounded Tapeka Point I left the sheltered waters and headed east towards the Bay’s major island chain.
Pulling in to Motuarohia Roberton Island, I found the place where Captain Cook anchored the Endeavour in 1769.
Upon his arrival, Captain James Cook had a skirmish with the island’s Maori inhabitants and shots were fired. Upon his arrival, Captain James Clayton had lunch.
After a feed I paddled east from Motuarohia Roberton; the island blocking the prevailing wind and making for glassy conditions. Floating over the shallow reefs I could check out the marine life below.
When conditions are good, there’s something very calming and meditative about kayaking; the rhythmic action of paddling, the ‘swoosh’ of the blade through the water, the gliding motion of the kayak, the peace of the tranquil marine environment.
After passing by Moturua Island, I reached Urupukapuka Island where I drifted between the yachts and beached at Paradise Bay.
It felt good to walk around and have a stretch, then relax for a while on the grass overlooking the beach.
Feeling rested, I slid back into the kayak and made my way around the south of the island to the main Urupukapuka camping ground.
Approaching Urupukapuka Bay, I came across a colony of pied shags nesting in some trees overlooking the water.
The Urupukapuka Island camping ground is big enough to hold hundreds of people, but when I visited it I had the place to myself. The campsite was well equipped with water, toilets, outdoor showers and acres of grass.
I spent the following day exploring the hills, cliffs and bays of the island via the network of walking tracks.
The next morning dawned drizzly, and with the forecast predicting 15+ knots later in the day I made an early start back to Paihia. Apart from the odd light shower, the early conditions were perfect.
I made it back around Tapeka Point before the wind blew up, and stopped at the picturesque town of Russell for lunch.
Thawing out in the sun at Russell I lost track of time, and ended up leaving a little too late. The nor’ easter arrived as forecast, and I had to battle the wind and whitecaps back to Paihia. I arrived tired and saturated, but buzzing from what had been a fantastic trip paddling the Bay.
For more on the Bay of Islands click here
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