Okarito is this untouched sweet little lagoon on the west coast that Claire, Rachel and I went to for a camping kayaking girls trip. The B&B was booked out by a group of 5 guys who have been friends for over 20 years and take a long weekend each year to get together in new location in New Zealand; this year they chose Hokitika! With the place being privately booked out Claire decided it would be fun to take us on a little Kiwi adventure to the lagoon.
We spent the morning packing and preparing and left at about midday. We were super worried about the weather being crappy but Claire checked the forecast and it looked like it was clearing up for us! We navigated and chatted down windy roads for just under 2 hours to the little (I’m talking there are only about 27 residents kind of tiny) town of Okarito.
We packed our kayaks up with all our food and camping gear and set out for a paddle. Claire had a single kayak and Rachel and I took a double. We paddled and explored some sheltered and intimate little creeks before committing to cross the main channel that had a very strong and wavy current. On the way to the creeks the waves worked in our favour but when we tried to cross the waves lapped the sides of the kayak and crashed over the top. Also because of the wind the water from each stroke splashed on us and even with the splash skirts,our bottoms were still completely soaked (luckily I brought a spare pair of leggings – not so lucky for my dear Rachel who later dried her pants by the bonfire). Rachel steered us which meant my main job was to paddle like a mad woman until we got to the other side. After about 40 minutes of hard work the sunshine was brilliant and we slid up onto the shore of our campsite. We unpacked and set up camp and then went to the beach (over some sanddunes the opposite direction of the lagoon).
There was LOTS of driftwood at the beach so we set up a bonfire, had some wine, ate a delicious chicken meal that Rach prepared for us in the morning and watched as the sun sink below the water. It was just beautiful – especially because as most of the sky had cleared so you could see Mount Tasman and Mount Cook on the horizon picking up all the shades of pink and orange that the sun exuded.
Once the sun went down it got COLD (unfortunately the wind didn’t set with the sun) so we headed back to our campsite and got cozy for the night.
At 5:50 I woke up surprisingly energetic. Because I was wide awake I wrestled myself out of my sleeping bag, thus waking up Rachel and announced I was going to see the sunrise. Claire was also up so the three of us headed down to the lagoon to watch the sunrise over the mountains. It was DAMN COLD but so worth it. The sun took her time coming up (a full hour) but made a painting in the sky and because the lagoon was still and glassy it left a nearly perfect reflection in the water.
We brought everything to the water after the sun rose so we could eat a nice breakfast and take our time loading up the kayaks. Unfortunately we were unexpectedly hit by an ARMY of sand flies. I’m talking biting-your-eyelids-biting-through-your-clothes-no-mercy sand flies. We packed up as we smacked and swatted and eventually made it back into the water. Once we were paddling they seemed to go away (or perhaps I just stopped acknowledging them). We paddled through the peaceful lagoon and admired nature’s kaleidoscope of mountains, grasses and wildlife mirrored back at us. We also got to see White Herons – also known as Kotuku in Maori – which are rare to see in New Zealand but common to see in the Okarito lagoon as it is their main breeding ground.
Once we got back to reception we enjoyed a nice cappuccino and headed back to our cute little wonderland in Hokitika.
In the evening we chatted with the 5 Kiwi guys who were having their last night together. Complete with a monster bonfire and some fireworks, we hung out on the beach and struck up conversations of travel and shared stories and different experiences. One of the gentlemen was even kind enough to extend the offer for Rachel and I to catch up and stay with him in his place in Christchurch in March! I’ve realized that when you are on a trip like this, meeting people who are so open minded and kind make such a hugely positive impact on your experience. Offers like this (this is the second one we have had while staying at Drifting Sands) make the place feel warm and comfortable – I feel welcomed and included in a place that is far from my Canadian home.
Yesterday morning we got up and finished this really awesome sculpture that we have been working on. Claire – being the creative genius that she is – entered us about a week ago in a competition on the beach called Driftwood and Sands. The idea is to build a sculpture out of materials from the beach – there is a list of different awards that you can win that have awesome prizes but we thought it would just be a fun way to spent some quality girl time together. We have been working on our piece for about 5 or 6 days but we haven’t mentioned it or told many people because we weren’t sure if it was going to turn out or not. It turned out better than I thought it would and I’m really proud of it. I am not much of a political person and often feel as though I am not educated enough in that sector to make matter-of-fact opinions… but in the last week every time I log onto Facebook or surf the internet I am overcome with sadness, disappointment, and honestly a little fear as I scroll through article after article about changes that the American President Donald Trump has been making. I respect everyone’s opinion and freedom of speech – so we decided to take this awesome creative opportunity to make a statement about how we feel – even though we are so far away. Rachel, Claire and I have worked really hard on this piece and the reason I love it is because I believe in its message. At the end of the day LOVE TRUMPS HATE. Love above all. This piece doesn’t say “Donald you suck” or “You’re terrible” – its not slandering and its not rude. The message behind it is that love, community, unity, and diversity are fundamentals to a progressive and accepting society – one that I would want to be a part of and one that Donald Trump doesn’t seem to support. The three of us decided that we have faith that love conquers and that is what we have tried to represent in this piece.
** if I have offended you with what I have said above – please note that trying to convey feelings, opinions and emotions without physical presence, body language, tone of voice, etc., can be very difficult. I am in no way trying to force my opinion onto others or put other thoughts down. If what I said has put you off, if you have any questions or even if you want to talk about the piece feel free to reach out to me.**
And that’s probably enough of that serious banter…. Currently the weather is gorgeous and I am sitting outside on a picnic table with some hummus, crackers, cheese and apple (a Mary snack favourite) and journaling in the sunshine. Tonight I think we might go and see the Glowworm Dell in town and Rach & I might make some homemade chocolate chip cookies!! Sending love! ❤️