A moonlight kayaking tour with KG Kayaks was my introduction to ocean kayaking two years ago. Since then, I have been out on Ohiwa Harbour to check out the little islands - which make great picnic spots by the way! Most recently, I joined him on the Whale Island tour - where we encountered some decent swells due to the Winter months. There was even a curious seal pup swimming alongside us for part of the trip. This blog post covers an awesome morning exploring the beautiful coastline between West End in Ohope and Whakatane.
It’s only been a couple of weeks of New Zealand’s Spring and I officially have a tan line thanks to this adventure. Kenny McCracken, from KG Kayaks, was already unloading the kayaks at West End when I pulled into the car park. His good friend, Jim Robinson of Motu Trails, made up the trio on this morning trip. Both are experienced kayakers so I knew I was in safe hands, besides, we had picked a beautiful day to be out on the water (read ‘very little chance of me falling in’).
Kenny McCracken from KG Kayaks (left) and Jim Robinson
from Motu Trails on the right.
This was the first time I set off from the beach - every other time had been in sheltered bays or even out in the open water. Kenny’s advice to keep facing towards the oncoming waves and “whatever you do just keep paddling” served me well as I made my way towards Jim, who was waiting for us past the breaks. It did help that the waves were minimal that morning, and any nervousness I felt soon disappeared as I looked back at Ohope Beach from the water. Bliss.
Just around the corner from West End is the beautiful Otarawairere Bay
- much loved by locals and visitors for its sheltered bays and shells. It is a swimming beach, and can be accessed from the stairs at West End (from the car park, walk towards the beach and head left), Otarawairere Village or if you time the tides right, as you walk down on the Nga Tapuwae o
Toi track. Jim actually pointed out the lookout point on the track as we kayaked past.
I asked Kenny how far out we were from the shore, and he said probably around 300m. Back in my swimming club days in primary school, I had passed a test because I could swim 1000m - though let’s be fair, it wasn’t in 14C water! The air temperature felt like 20C when there was no breeze, which is a pretty warm Spring day.
The water got a bit choppy as we made our way around the corner, after
a couple of minutes of keeping an eye out for rocks, we were back to the shelter of the in-shore channels. Kenny pointed out a few caves along the way - unfortunately the tide was too high to kayak through them. No tour is ever the same, and my suggestion is always to embrace any opportunities like these - nature runs its own schedule so go for it
Jim was ahead of us and managed to drag his kayak onto the rocks while I took my time taking photos of the various rock formations. As I caught up to them both, Kenny led me around the rocks to the other side of the rocks where Jim stood. I saw the fisherman on the rocks before I realised how close we were to Whakatane. Where he sat was actually around the corner from the Whakatane Heads. How cool is that?
As we made our way back to West End with the help of a tail wind, there was hopeful optimism that we may spot an Orca on this trip. We weren’t so lucky that morning, however I heard there were Orcas spotted the next day!
I did manage to catch a wave in - although I went a bit crooked and almost took Jim out! I was grateful for the amazing sunshine (that gave me my tan line!), and especially to Kenny and Jim for making this trip so fun. It made me love being out on the water even more. KG Kayaks will cater to different skills levels, so make sure to give Kenny a call so you too can experience the stunning Eastern Bay coastline…oh and tell him
the shorty said hi!
PHOTOGRAPHS BY RONNA GRACE FUNTELAR
Ronna Grace Funtelar is a thirtyish storyteller, creative, writer and slam poet currently based in New Zealand. She is a hobby hiker, photography and sunrise enthusiast with a passion for mindfully helping others live beyond their comfort zone.
Basically, a shorty who knows her life purpose.