Coming up north after our Torangiro Alpine Crossing, our plan for today was to tackle the largest lake of New Zealand, Lake Taupo. We decided to book a kayaking trip for 1:30 after lunch and leasurely started our day with lots of stops along the short drive, a food and diesel re-fuel and a coffee… only to realize that we are already running late! Lunch was cancelled and the van drove at its maximum speed of 90 km/h along the windy roads. We got to the lake front just in time, a group of young people was getting ready with kayaks and paddles. After we had introduced ourselves we were given life jackets and a kayak with motor. I guess the journey has not taken away our ages yet. So right away for us the challenge was clear: to prove them wrong.
The first task was to jump right into the lake to overcome any fear of getting wet. Next, we climbed as pairs into the wobbly boats and off we went. I didn’t realize that these type of kayaks have a proper rudder that you can operate by foot. Steering was actually quite easy this way – compared to smaller kayaks in which we would have spent the rest of the day going round in circle. So we paddled out into the lake for the next hour or so, enjoyed the sunshine, the vastness of the lake, and being able to exercise our arms instead of legs after yesterday’s hike. Our halfway point was were famous Maori rock carving can be found, and they were impressive indeed! A huge scene with faces and animals carved as lines into the cliff on one side and rocks carved away into animals on the other. Beautiful!
After a swim in the cristal-clear lake, we had coffee and snacks on a lonly beach with chairs and tables that had been hidden away in our boats. Beautiful setting and a well-deserved snack after some hard paddling. For the way back the task was that one person in each boat could do a rock jump, and of course I did not want to disappoint. The snack was starting to feel a bit heavy in my stomach when I realized it was an eight meter forward jump into the lake I was going to attempt. The other big challenges turned out to be getting up onto the rock and then getting back into the kayak without tipping Anja out. To cut it short, it all went well and was great fun.
The way back consisted of small races between individual boats and trying to avoid getting soaked by the paddles of our guide. He has been kayaking here for 16 years and knew exactly how to move the paddle in order to wetten you. The final task was to try and stand up and paddle to shore. I must admit I had a very hard time here and even made us both go swimming once.
In summary, a great trip, amazing carvings and good exercise – just to proof this point we did not turn the motor on once!