Tuesday, March 04, 2008

New Zealand: The Journey Begins...

I'd be lying if I said that this is where the adventure began. But if you subtract all the who-la in getting to this point outside the LAX terminal...this is where the adventure began. The first task was to get my buggy and I (my cousin Sophie stayed in her home-land, Cali-forn-i-a) from the point at which this picture was taken, to inside the terminal door and to the check-in counter. Not exactly an easy task, considering that doors to any airport are never as wide as three kayaks, or the transformation I had to under-go to become Moses, parting the sea of people inside the airport. It all felt rather fitting though, because I wasn't going halfway across the world not to be challenged!

Ever since I started flying with kayaks, I seem to have developed a habit of getting to a destination without boarding a single flight I was originally booked for. Again, despite checking in my gear and I at LAX while the final boarding call echoed over the masses, I arrived in Auckland, New Zealand early New Years Day morning, continuing my streak.

My earlier-than-expected arrival left me as an observer on the group-W bench outside the airport, waiting for action. This train of buggies went by and I was immediately impressed with their resemblance to ducklings, despite their racial differences.

When I first got to New Zealand, I knew one person in the whole country. Luckily that one man showed up at the airport the same day I arrived! Ladies and Gentlemen...Mr. Gareth Wheeler, A.K.A. "Wheels." Cheers for that, bro!!!

With all the fresh toys loaded up in the back of Ol' Blue, (Wheel's faithful Toyota Hiace that gets 'er done! Better introduction to Ol' Blue later) we were off to the Bay of Plenty region where our first eddy awaited our arrival. (HUGE Thanks out to the kind folk at RIOT Kayaks for making it possible to bring a fresh Boogie, Magnum AND Astro to the land down under!!!)

Driving into gorgeous country side, I was awe-struck by many things; mostly just their misspellings of words even I can spell!

This is a picture of me, happy to be in a place I've dreamed of visiting since I was a wee one! Couldn't have wiped that silly grin off my face to save your life!!!

Day 2 in New Zealand and I was already about to get on the water! This was my first glimpse of whitewater in NZ..."Okere Falls" and "The Weir" on the Kaituna River. We walked along a bit of a track to look at these and the biggest drop of the run, "Tutea Falls."

This is a tunnel. I've had some cool experiences with tunnels in NZ. Better so than my experiences with tunnels in the US. If tunnels were put on a description meter, this one would hover in at the warm and fuzzy point. Fuzzy, like a bumblebee's bum, minus the stinger, because my description of a stinger might include the word warm, but probably not fuzzy. Really though, there is some fuzz to the buzz down here!

Speaking of fuzz...fuzzy-wuzzy was a bear, fuzzy wuzzy had no hair, fuzzy wuzzy wasn't as fuzzy as people thought he was, now was he?

And then...there was kayaking. And it was fun...REALLY fun!!! This is Wheels on Okere Falls, the first drop of any significance you come to on the Kaituna.

Directly after Okere comes The Weir. Here's Wheels coming in hot, disappearing into the shadows.

Yours truly, in the true state of being yours, planting the almighty boof stroke to perpetuate the horizontal forward movement of my Astro over "The Weir."

The Kaituna is absolutely stunning. It twists its way through a gorge covered in all sorts of native NZ bush hanging down from everywhere. It's like riding in a pink, convertible Cadillac in the Macy's Day Parade, streamers coming down at you from all over, except the streamers are branches, vines, and palms. I kept expecting monkeys to jump out into the river and start heckling and laughing at you saying, "Tricked you, stupid American!!! You thought you were in New Zealand!?! Haha, this is Coast Rica!!! Puerto Vida, hombre!!!" Was it in our minds?

Another bend in the river, and it just gets prettier.

Just when life can't get much better, the world-famous Kaituna Get-out Hole appears for your freestylin' pleasure! These cats showed up with their ducky and took it back to the old school. It has been said many times...Enders are BACK!

Around the bend from the playspot, and the normal get-out is Trout Pool Falls. If your day just needs a bit more spice to it, this can be your solution. It's about a 12 footer that lands in a hole with a backwash as far back as the drop is high! Not a place to miss your boof! Here's a shot Wheels took of me trying to avoid becoming fish soup.

In New Zealand, even the take-outs are purtty!!! And yes, it's true, there are sheep here.

Cram into the truck; drive two minutes, and your back at the put-in, ready for another round!!! I'm tellin' you...Livin' the good life!!!

I'll leave you with a classic New Zealand road sign. They're brutally honest here with their signage...Like a zip folks, like a YKK zip.

Sorry for the delay in activity on this site. To be completely honest, I've just been living a dream. When you live a dream that you just can't get enough of, you don't want to wake-up! It's March now, school has started and the weather's starting to show signs of fall; the dream isn't over, but the dream summer vacation is. What I've covered in this post only scratches the surface. I think it's about three days worth of pictures. (I didn't even get a shot of the biggest drop on the run!!! Wait for the video for that!) Stay tuned for more, as I will re-live the epic trip I've had going North to South in one of the most gorgeous places on planet earth!!! HHhhheeeeehhaaaawwww!!! (Like a donkey, not a sheep)


Blogger Daniel said...

Yeah Coop! So stoked for you bro!

2:16 PM  
Blogger Ken said...

Well, a few spelling mishaps here and there but nonetheless Cooper seems to be in his element; does anyone doubt he is having fun?

8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coooooooooppppeerrrrrrrr is myyyyyyyy heeeeeeerrrrrrooooo!

7:11 AM  
Anonymous Annie said...

i've been talking to myself all day at work, but this pushed me right over the edge.

maybe i should learn one of those boof strokes to stay afloat...

8:43 AM  

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