New Zealand - Kayaking on Lake Taupo

After a day of walking up a rather large mountain we were all feeling it. Still, we got ourselves sorted and managed a quick foray into Taupo (new boardies for the boys, a new bikini for me) before we were out to Acacia Bay. I have to say, the bays around Lake Taupo are gorgeous. Flat and calm waters as far as the eye could see. Sheltered, with little houses set back off the roads. Prettier than I remember Taupo being, anyway.

We went out with Taupo Kayak Adventures who I went with mostly because their website was pretty (much prettier than their competitors). We got out of the car and met Matt, from Napier (though he definitely had a Saffa accent). He hadn't been doing tours long (a few months, maybe?) and was fresh out of the Sir Ed Adventure Pursuit college.

He was a riot - really had a good time with him. He was super casual, probably a bit of a stoner, but he was also good natured and passionately cared about the area and the natural environment. He was full of stories, some great ones about the local Maori traditions and culture (his pronunciation was brilliant - usually I get indignant when white folk try tell me about my people, but actually Matt did it with such genuine respect, and his knowledge was pretty bang on with what I knew that I was happy to listen to what he had to say).

The kayaking bit was a bit more hard core than I was looking for. In the afternoon the winds picked up, and as we rounded the bays we went from calm and sheltered (and extremely pleasant to kayak in) to half metre swells and white caps (the opposite). I have to say, I got seasick and spent the whole time trying desperately not to vomit over the side. Gross.

It was pretty hard going into the wind, I didn't enjoy it all that much. The plan was to go see the Maori carvings, but when we got the point just before the carvings Matt called it. He said that the carvings were pretty confined, and if we got in there and the swell was as big as it was were we were (which was likely, probably bigger) than the chances of us flipping near the rocks was more likely.

We played it safe (safety first!) and turned back. Definitely the right thing to do, it was pretty rough and I was happy to not risk it.

Instead we moored up near something Moana point for a tea break (which was all kinds of hilarious but lovely all the same) and a bit of an explore. Apparently when Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter were a thing they had a house up the hill. We visited 'The place of rest' which was a cave. When the Maori crossed the lake for the first time, the place of rest was where they'd camp out that first night.

Mostly, it looked just like a cave. Some hooligans had carved their initials into the rock face (egg heads) which was disappointing, but yeah. We also went to go have a look see of a 150 year old carving, that was apparently done by an Irish man. He used to do ferry tours across the lake and noticed that he never had any Maori clients. The myth was that there was a rogue taniwha in the lake (a bit like a curse). He was told that to lift it, he had to carve out a man doing the haka to scare away the taniwha. So he did, and the story goes he got more Maori customers that way.

I'm not sure how true that is, but needless to say the carving done Maori style by an Irishman is still there.

The tour ended up being about 10k (5k there, 5k back) and it was a good time out. A bit mental (I got annoyed at Zee for his rubbish steering) but I was glad we tried it! I'd be keen to try again to get out the carvings, perhaps when the swell is a bit less dramatic.