Even before we got to Okarito, we’d begun talking about hiring a kayak to get out on the lagoon. And once we got there, we went to visit the nice people at Okarito Kayaks. We were too late for the coffee machine, but were able to book for kayaking the next day. We were hoping for a clear day so we could see the mountains. But we struck it even luckier as it turned out; a relatively calm day with high time in the middle of the day. We’d be able to paddle up the lagoon on the incoming tide, and then come home on the outgoing tide. That sounded like a good plan.
So we were up early, figuring out what to wear and what to take. We called around to Okarito Kayaks and were soon kitted out and well briefed on what to do and walked down to the lagoon And before long, we were pushed off out into the lagoon and paddling with the incoming tide.
It’s a big lagoon (the biggest natural lagoon in the country), and it looked even bigger sitting on the water.
We soon got used to paddling in unison, and made our way up the line of manuka poles marking our channel.
It was at this point that we spotted our first white heron. These nest to the north and are sometimes seen in the Okarito Lagoon. We saw three while on the lagoon and two more as we were leaving Okarito the next day, the last one flying overhead as we drove away. With a NZ population of only 200 birds, we felt privileged.
We explored our trail into the forest, until we couldn’t go any further.
We headed back to the lagoon, and back to our second forest trail. These side streams were delightful, almost silent apart from the birds and the splash from our paddles. As we were gliding through the forest, it was easy to imagine Westland as it was 200 years ago. We mostly had the place to ourselves, although we did meet another kayaker on our way out of the second stream.
From here we returned to the lagoon and paddled back with the outgoing tide. We were careful to follow our instructions to keep to the wharf side to avoid being swept out into the Tasman Sea! We soon pulled up out of the water, a little weary after 4 hours of paddling and very happy with our day’s adventure. It’s a wonderful experience.
West Coast Circuit Gallery 2017