Saturday, June 16, 2012

Drunken Pirates, that is what we be!

Enjoying Lake Taupo in a kayak in Winter.  Home of the swim leg of Ironman New Zealand.
Beth and I had a few days vacation in Taupo this past week.  We did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, but that deserves its own post and we spent an afternoon on Lake Taupo yesterday.  Our day started a little slow as we did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing the day prior and had to catch a bus at 6:20 am.  We were pretty keen on doing some kayaking prior to coming down as the lake is pretty awesome and the weather cooperated as it was a balmy 6C (about 43 F) out.  We were helped out with this endevour by Laura at C&K Taupo, who delivered the sea kayak to Hot Spring Beach and then picked it up at the Taupo Yacht Club.  This is a service they typically don't offer, but as it is the slow season I think she wanted something to do.  After all we were the only kayakers on the lake.  We saw a couple fishing boats and a single sail boat.  We both wore our new macpac rain jackets and they preformed as I thought they would.  I've been pushing the gear now for about 7 weeks and I've only worn the merino wool, which I love.  The jackets kept the water out, granted it wasn't rain but splash, and they breathed really well as my shirt was dry even though I was putting in some good effort.
Point on the East Coast of the bay.
 Laura showed up at the appointed time to drop off the kayak and showed us all the stuff we would be sent out with; spray skirt, bilge pump, floatation device for paddle in-case we flipped the kayak, and PFDs.  I'm only a stranger to the floatation device that straps to the paddle to help flipping the kayak back over, but its pretty easy to understand.  However, flipping over in this cold lake would definately suck and getting this on would probably take some time.  She didn't hesitate to mentioned that the kayak was designed and made local to New Zealand.  I don't recall the brand, but its probably posted on their site.  The kayak weighed 20kg, which is about as much as our single recreation kayak back home.  That is pretty gnarly if you ask me.   The kayak handled well and had 2 dry container areas.  Important as I had my hiking boots with me.
Opted for a bright color that could be used for sailing as well.
 After we donned the provided gear and got ready to push in, a local gentleman wondered over to tell us to be careful of the strong Taupo winds and then gave us a hand with pushing in.  We yelled our thanks and then proceeded to do our best to make some headway.  It was made difficult as I didn't put down the rudder and it was held firmly in place by a metal hook.  We must have looked like drunken pirates!  We paddled for a little ways down the coast before backing in and unhooking the rudder.  I'm pretty sure we were still being watched by the locals, but I didn't want to come back into the same place to get the kayak in working order.  With the rudder down, we proceeded to paddle around the east coast of the bay to a point that Laura told us about and then headed directly west to another point and then back to the yacht club.  We paddled for about 2.5 hours and covered approximately 16km. 

Some background info from wiki about the lake: largest lake by surface area in New Zealand and 2nd largest in Oceania.  You can see Lake Taupo from the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.  It is drained by the Waikato River (New Zealand's longest river) which the Huka Falls is on.  Taupo is home to Ironman New Zealand and Lake Taupo is home to the swim leg and there is 2 laps of the hilly area for the bike.  There is also the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, where you have 12 options to suit your pain enjoyment level.  There is the soft cheeks of 1 lap (160km) to the buns of titanium known as the Extreme Enduro, which consists of 8 (160km) laps!  Each lap has 1308m of climbing.  This ride starts at noon on Wed and while there is no cut-off the full event prize giving is at 6pm on Sat.  Who wants to start training for the November challenge?  From the organizers, the enduro is a challenge and not a race.

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