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Seven of My Favorite Places To Kayak in Australia and New Zealand
Kayaking in Australia and New Zealand, Really?
Haven't you ever wanted to kayak in either Australia or New Zealand?
If you have, then what are you waiting for? It's the perfect time of year to go. I'm going to list Seven of My Favorite Places To Kayak in Australia and New Zealand
(Above) That's an aerial view of Sydney, taken by Rodney Haywood, from a helicopter
Besides being a great place to visit, I'll show and describe some of my favorite places for you to kayak on both continents. Each presents their own particular challenges and excitement for kayaking.
It doesn't matter whether you are a river, lake, stream or an ocean kayaker, there are plenty of places. I list my five favorite, starting in Sydney. I start there because that is where the famous "Sydney Opera House" is located PLUS.... it's also where most ~ major airlines fly to. best of all, it's easy to connect to New Zealand as well.
Starting with flying into Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney, here are my five favorites
The First Stop of Seven of My Favorite Places To Kayak in Australia and New Zealand
Starting in Sydney, not only is the city visible from the harbor but you can see the Airport Tower in the distance, the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge (which you will paddle under). Also, you will enjoy the serenity of the bay which is just a stone's throw from the airport so grab a sack lunch from a local shop and put in at Darling Harbor.
As you slow paddle, you will pass around the tip and head east and under the Sydney Harbor bridge, past the Opera House and out to Nielsen Park. What makes this trip so fun is all of the boats, water craft and/or conveyances and flotation devices everywhere. All full of people doing just what I'm doing, enjoying the water and people watching.
Paddling under the bridge and heading east, all manner of sea life is visible along the shoreline as well on the approach to the Fort Denison island ( A kind of one turret Fort with a not so famous past) and it's right smack in the middle of the harbor. It's a museum as well and warrants a visit.
Next up and (named for it's shape, not for the number of sharks near it) is Shark Island. It's a great little tourist spot. There is a local ferry service available. My last stop on the Sydney Harbor excursion will be to continue paddling east towards Nielsen Park. Paddling to the north side, you will find a beautiful white sand beach.
The beach and surrounding countryside are part of what used to be the "Wentworth Estate" which became part of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service in 1911. The original residence "Greycliffe House" built in 1851 still stands. Currently it's used by the Park Service as their headquarters.
On a personal note, during tropical storms, this beach makes a great surfing beach.
Once at Nielsen Park, pull ashore and open your sack lunch for a quick bite, soaking in all of the sights. As you head back, paddle across the bay and take the opposite side of the harbor back to Darling Harbor..Depending on how many detours taken taken along the way, the trip from Darling Harbor and back should be roughly 15 to 20 miles. A respectable trip and enjoyable sightseeing.
There are too many sights to see along the way, so take your time and a camera on your trip.
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Lake Burley Griffin, ACT - Our 2nd stop
This is a view of Lake Burley Griffin from a nearby rise, just to give you an idea of it's size and a bit of it's unique design.
We're going to now jump in the car and take a quick three hour putt to the town of Canberra and Lake Burley Griffin. Now I know it sounds corny, but the lake is a little known secret as a place to kayak. Not to mention, it's the only place for getting wet in landlocked Canberra. The lake is right smack in the center of the city, and is a showpiece of the capital.
It's named for the American architect (Walter Burley Griffin) who designed the city of Canberra and the lake.
It's a man made lake built by damming the Molonglo River and as such, it's the perfect size lake for a day trip in a kayak Your point of contact here--is: the Burley Griffin Canoe Club. They can help you out with most any information you need with regards to the lake and the surrounding area. The lake is just over six miles long and paddling completely around the shoreline is right at 20 some miles. An easy day.
Make no mistake though, this is an enjoyable day trip with plenty to see. All around the lake, you will see numerous important institutions. They were built with the lake in mind and include such buildings as the National Gallery, the National Museum, the National Library, and such. That's not to say that the trip around the lake is just looking at man's monuments alone.
There are park lands also which are popular with recreational users, mainly boaters, as I didn't see many swimmers on my tour. But you will find again, all manner of watercraft with people enjoying the day, by fishing or sailing or just whatever. There are also six islands, the largest (Aspen) has the National Carillion donated by the British Empire to the people of Australia. Once you hear it's bells play, you won't soon forget the sound
Now it's on to my next favorite day trip location.....Innes National Park (Yorke Peninsula), SA
Kayaking Around Australia - One Woman's remarkable story.
This book "Fearless" is a "MUST HAVE" for all kayaker's. It's the true story of one woman, Freya Hoffmeister. She is a forty-odd-year-old woman who left her (then) twelve-year-old son behind to paddle alone and unsupported around Australia. Her trip exceeded 320 days and she covered over 9,000 miles, surviving not only huge, shark-infested seas, but wanting to do so in a shorter time. Buy the book.and read her remarkable story.
A Remarkable Story of a Remarkable Woman
Journalist and expert kayaker Joe Glickman followed Freya's 332-day voyage, including her daring 350-mile open-ocean crossing that shaved three weeks off of her trip. In the end, he says,
"Freya's vanity and pigheadedness paled when compared to her nearly superhuman ability to master fear and persevere"
This story is available in Kindle and paperback.
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The first river you paddle, runs through the rest of your life. It bubbles up in pools and eddies to remind you who you are. -- Lynn Noel
Mowarry Beach - Stop # 3 of our day trips
Here's a view across the bay from Eden, looking at the wood chip plant at Edrom.
After our visit to Canberra and Lake Burley Griffin, we jump in our car once again and head south again. This time towards the coast and the town of Eden, New South Wales, Australia just about 3 hours south. We are not going to Eden specifically, but to the Ben Boyd National Park. A park encompassing a massive length and number of beaches with an even larger variety of coast lines.
The town of Eden (an old whaling town) is known as one of the most southern towns in NSW, near Victoria. But, one of the best kept secrets, is that near there is a little known beach called Mowarry Beach. No one is going to write home about this beach, as it is a bit tough to get to except for the hearty of soul. If you choose to go as I did? You are going to be amazed at the beauty.
Pack yourself a decent lunch, head a few miles south and put your kayak in at Boydtown. As you paddle out of Twofold Bay, you will pass (on your right) a National Historic site of the old Davidson Whaling station from days past. Boyd National Park itself starts on the other side of Edrom. You'll see an old wood chip mill (again, on your right) as you paddle the shoreline and around the point.
If you stick close to the coastline, you can see all manner of sea birds including cormorants as they dive and eat the plentiful bounty of fish Rounding another point, looking to your right, you will see what looks like a lighthouse, but it's not. It's called "Boyd's Tower" and was built to let the whalers know when the whales were coming in but never finished. (the reason is another story entirely)
Continuing on you will see some magnificent and craggy coast line which will bring you to Mowarry Beach itself which you can recognize as it's near an open area that used to be a farm. Pull ashore and do as they say down south? A walkabout and then have lunch before heading back.
One thing for sure......check the wind and tide conditions before you set out.
Point Nepean National Park, Victoria - Stop # 4
Here is a picture of Port Nepean, taken from across the bay from the Queenscliff Tower (home of the dual lighthouses. If you look to the right of the base of land, you can see the entrance to Bass Straits----the Infamous and deadly 'Rip.'
First, a brief history of the park. Point Nepean is now a National Park, but it was not always so. The area was originally settled and inhabited by Aboriginals thousands of years ago. (There are numerous registered Aboriginal archaeological sites scattered throughout the park.) It was also one of the first or second sites in Australia that was used as a quarantine station beginning in 1852. Many of those original buildings still stand.
Now, to tell you a bit about why I like this place. First, you can stay in the sheltered waters of Port Phillip Bay and enjoy a great day of paddling or head straight away to Bass Strait, via the 'Rip.' But the one you choose will depend upon your skill set in a kayak.
The safe way to enjoy your day trip here, is to stay within Port Phillip Bay and paddle east following the coast. Not only will you encounter other boater's, but you will be delighted with the host of sites and towns to see along the way. (Not to mention the numerous places to stop and grab a bite to eat.) Do however.....mind the ferry.......it travels through there as well. One thing I encourage, is to chat with the locals where ever you do decide to stop and eat. Australians are amazingly friendly people
A view across the 'Rip' from Point Lonsdale
Innes National Park (Yorke Peninsula), SA - # 5 our last stop in Australia
Our final stop is about a days drive from Melbourne, (about 12 hours) so plan a long day trip or a casual overnight trip traversing the southern end of Australia as we head to the Innes national Park. It's on the south end of the spit of land, near Marion Bay. Once you get there, you can put in there, or follow Stenhouse Bay Rd..
I like to put in at Stenhouse Bay (halfway between Marion Bay and Inneston.) This is where the Parks and Wildlife offices are located. Put in and head west to see if the waves are lining up for the surfer's. There is some spectacular surfing here and it's always fun to watch. One thing to remember, if you planned on eating your lunch ashore and you wait until the swells are lining up for surfing? Just eat in your kayak as you're not going ashore any time soon so continue on your trip.
If you want to put in a bit further down, follow Pondalowie Bay Rd. all of the way to where it joins with Cape Spencer Rd. You can put in here and paddle up around the tip and see some magnificent rock cliffs. The entire trip changes from cliffs to white sand beaches in the flick of a wave it seems.
The Australian coast line is a magnificent coastline to see. It varies from white sand beaches, to vegetation right down to shore to cliffs and all teeming with sea life of all kinds, bays to explore and people to get to know.
Just keep in mind, that this coast line is some of the most beautiful you will find but it is also rugged and dangerous, so explore accordingly.
Next up: A short plane flight to Queenstown, New Zealand
Finally, if you are looking for a close up view of the real Australia? Bill Bryson's Sunburned Country takes you there. From the Gold Coast to the Outback and everything in between. Mr. Bryson infuses humor and wit as he tells his tales of his forays across Australia. Available in Paperback, Harcover, Kindle, Audio, you name it. It is a must have for travel down under.
Travel Guides - Buy a Fodor's or Frommer Guide
If you want some more in depth coverage of the places I wrote about today, there are a couple of sources to go to: Fodor's and Frommer's. All of their writer's live there and provide much more in depth coverage of these places and many more.. Plus, Bill Bryson adds a lighthearted view of travels throughout Australia that is NOT to be missed. Buy 'em, read 'em and enjoy.
Why Frommer's instead of another? The author's (and there are several) are ALL from Australia. The live there and travel to and see what they write about. First hand and accurate information.
A shortcut version of the standard Frommer's Guide If you want a book to carry with you on a daily basis, this might be the one for you. It is to be considered a backup to or in addition to the standard full size Frommer's Travel Guide. Available in Kindle and Paperback.
The Road Heading Into The Mountains of New Zealand
Milford Sound - Fiordland National Park
The First of Two Stops in New Zealand
As we near the end of our Seven of My Favorite Places To Kayak in Australia and New Zealand tour, we find ourselves flying in to Queenstown, New Zealand. Our destination is Milford sound and there are two ways to reach it. You can fly, or travel to Milford Sound in custom built glass roofed buses so you won’t miss views of the mountains, glaciers and rainforest. (I always prefer the bus ride for the magnificent views.
Milford remains the first stop for many wishing to experience Fiordland Nation Park. It is a popular spot for kayaking, (or boating of any kind it would seem) An area surrounded by ancient rain forests and granite peaks that seem untouched by man. Waterfalls that thunder down mountainsides to fill the 10,000 year old fjords that flow out to the sea. A more magnificent and beautiful place on earth would be hard to find.
With a plethora of ways to enjoy the sound, you need only choose. From sleek looking catamarans to kayaks to noisy helicopters and even airplanes. For me, the two day kayak trip was the way to go. We were not to be disappointed.
From stepping ashore and walking but a feet yards inland, you meet the towering cliff faces that mark the surroundings of the fjord. Long vines and thick vegetation that you would swear has been untouched for thousands of years. All arching towards the clouds.
Waterfalls thunder down the mountainsides and crash into the fjord below in a magnificent display of nature's power and abundance. The mist from the waterfalls extend far out into the sound and can be felt quite a ways from the source.
Then of course, there is the ever popular and the much photographed and iconic Mitre Peak. A mountain rising seemingly out of the sea for more than 3,200 feet straight up. If nothing else, getting to see Mitre peak is worth the trip.
Next up, my number one choice for kayaking in New Zealand.......Doubtful Sound.
Feel free to leave a small trinket to 'add' to the bounty - As you cross over Wilmot Pass
Our Final Stop In New Zealand - A truly wonderful place, Doubtful Sound
Doubtful Sound was named by Captain James Cook in 1770. He called the entrance "Doubtful Harbor" and did not venture in for fear of being unable to return from the harbor to the sea once he was inside.
I saved Doubtful Sound as my last stop in my favorite places to Kayak In Australia and New Zealand because it is a special place. Not only because it is a remote place and hard to get to but because of it's beauty which makes it well worth the journey. It is also one of the few places in the world where there are no known natural predators. You can camp with ease.
If you thought my description of getting to Milford Sound sounded like an adventure, then take a look at this. You may feel as if you are touching the end or even the beginning of the world
Since there is no direct road access, the sound is less crowded. The one and only way you can get to there, is by a cruising across Lake Manapouri. Once across, you then must take a bus trip over Wilmot Pass (the bus stops at the top so you can get a look at the lake before proceeding on). But think about it. This ensures that only those who WANT to get to Doubtful Sound go. Therefore, it is more pristine and you will appreciate the beauty even more so.
You may be reminded of the Movie "Lord of the Rings" or "The Hobbit with there majestic views when you gaze down from the top of Wilmot Pass. it is truly magnificent to behold.
Doubtful sound is only 25 or so miles long, but it is 3 times larger than Milford sound and you can count on one hand the number of other boats you will see. The remoteness of the area means you have a better chance of seeing the abundance of wildlife that live in the fjord, from bottlenose dolphins to fur seals to the elusive Fiordland's own Crested Penguin. There is just no end to what you are going to encounter including the sounds of birds whose cries echo off the granite walls.
The waterfalls, rivers and streams are rich with tannin (an astringent and bitter plant compound) Tannins are found in leaf, bud, seed, root, and stem tissues of many plants and since they are abundant in the area, they are naturally occurring. Rainfall also accounts for a portion of the tannins in the water and rainfall is abundant here.
When you pull up on that beach at the end of the first day, you feel as if you are the first person to ever set foot there, so quiet and peaceful it is. Lying on your back and gazing at the stars is an entirely new experience because it is so clear, like you are looking 'through" the universe. You may want to swim in the water, but let me forewarn you....it's cold.
When you reach the end of your journey and are back where you began, don't let yourself feel bad in the least. You have been able to experience fjords carved by glaciers nearly 2 million years ago and now you have the memories of experiencing something few people ever have or will in the entire lives.
Thanks for reading and I'll see you on the trail--
If you want to see New Zealand? This is the book to buy. Great maps, photos and descriptions allowing you to customize any and all of your travels with this full color guide. Available in paperback
Gorgeous Photos and stories to match. Fodor's let's out all the stops on this one. Lots of information in an easy to read and understand format. Nit too much on the maps though but all around? An excellent addition to anyone's trip. Available in paperback.