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Sunday, 16 November 2008

Paddling in Pahia, New Zealand - Page 3

Written by Aaron Ober
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There I was, flipping through a guide book in my hostel bunk, while
crunching noisily on vitamin C drops and sniffing back the head cold
that I had picked up somewhere in the rainy streets of Auckland. It
was day three of my solo adventure to the North Island of New Zealand.
With limited time, I decided to explore the Bay of Islands at the
utmost tip of the land, rich with native Maori history, geographically
blessed with one hundred forty-four islands, and some of the best
sport-fishing in the world.  I was dripping with anticipation—and as
sick as a dog.

Paddling in Pahia, New Zealand, solo adventure, adventure travel, North Island, travel New Zealand, Kiwi Express, Bay of Islands, Pipi Patch hostel, Russell, Pahia, Aaron OberThe river swells collapsed over my kayak and sea spray stung my eyes.
After what seemed like hours, I made out the blurry outline of the
bridge at the river mouth.  My arms felt like rocks tied to my
shoulders, and a searing hot pain shot down my back as I inched toward
the bridge.  Enter: Rocky Theme Song…  Just a little further…  The
sound of my kayak scraping sand brought tears to my eyes.  I put my
head down--not to pray, but to shield it from a brutal sand blast
ripping off the beach.  I hastily disembarked from my kayak, legs
wobbly, arms dangling; a real life Raggedy Andy.  One by one, the
others landed on the sand bar.  Some paddlers whooped for joy, some
sat in a silent, stunned state, while one poor paddler even sobbed
uncontrollably.

Our group piled into another outfitters tiny shack on the beach for
shelter from the storm.  It was then that I remembered Arjen.  I ran
down to the water's edge and scanned the bay for him.  Sure enough,
there was our workhorse, charging through the raging sea, confident
that we were following behind him into the bay, like a Viking warrior
leading his troops into battle.  The other's joined me on the beach
and we began to cheer him on.  I secretly wondered if he would be all
right.  Even the guides didn't dare to chase him down, and so we would
take the van back and meet him on the other side of the bay.  We
hoped.

As the others started for the van, I stayed a minute longer,
admiring the bravery of my Dutch friend.  It was then that I saw Arjen
look back.  He must have realized he was all alone, for he swung his
kayak around on a dime and started paddling fervently for the beach.
I called to the others and we celebrated his landing, which pried the
frustrated look from his wet, red face.  He simply smiled and asked,
"What? You guys couldn't make it?"

I never did get my money back.  Instead, I got two days use of an old
rowboat, which Arjen and I took out to do some fishing in the bay, and
yes, he rowed.  Paddling in Pahia, New Zealand, solo adventure, adventure travel, North Island, travel New Zealand, Kiwi Express, Bay of Islands, Pipi Patch hostel, Russell, Pahia, Aaron OberWe drank wine, fished and laughed about or kayaking
experience, which we later found out was at the tail-end of a
hurricane that had hit
Fiji; a perfect "rite-of-passage" ending for
two newbie paddlers.  Eventually my cold cleared up, my bruised,
"fat American" ego healed, and my attitude towards kayaking grew
surprisingly fond.  I figured it couldn't get any worse than that.
So, it's smooth paddling from here on out.

© Aaron Ober

(Page 3 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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