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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kayaking to the Carvings, Taupo


I've always wondered what it would be like to take a leisurely kayaking trip around a lake. So I booked this excursion for our stay in Taupo. I'll still wonder what its like. This short little kayaking experience turned into 3 hours of paddling and a bunch of rough water.

We met up with the guide and another kayaker in the afternoon. The lake looked calm and beautiful (although much larger than I expected).

I was a bit surprised when the guide told us he wasn't sure if we should go out because it looked pretty rough when he had driven by earlier.


He decided that since it was only the 4 of us we would go ahead and try to get to the carvings.

He gave us some lessons in paddling, steering and how to pull ourselves out should we flip.

I started to get nervous. I couldn't stop staring through the water as we got started. I'm actually a very good swimmer (thanks to mom who put me in numerous swimming lessons after a scary experience) but I have a hyper-active imagination and didn't exactly want to be in the water.

Who knows what scary sea creatures are out there! There could be New Zealand fresh water lake sharks!


So we got into our kayaks and we paddled. And we paddled. And we paddled.

My arms started to get tired. And we paddled some more.

And then the guide yelled over to us "We're almost half way there!"

Oh crap. I started giggling. He meant that we were almost half way to the carvings...which is half way thru the kayaking. So really we were only a quarter of the way thru. At this point I'm really wishing I had included some more upper body workouts before NZ.

Then he said "After this bend the hard part starts. Its going to be rough. Keeps your hips loose! People who are stiff get flipped!"


I can't even tell you exactly what it was like. We were so focused on paddling that I didn't have time to be nervous. After we rounded the bend it felt like we were in the middle of the ocean The waves were big enough that we weren't able to see the other kayak when we were in between waves. The waves are coming at us, challenging us to cut into and over them.

Oh but there was a moment that I will never forget. As the wave came towards us B was yelling "paddle, paddle, paddle!" and I was. I was paddling my heart out. We paddled up that wave and for a moment there I was sitting right on top jutting out just slightly. I could see the yellow of the other kayak in front of me but I seemed to be suspended in air above the water. The kayak tilted foward like an amusement park ride and we came crashing down into the dark, choppy water.

It came over me in one cold swoosh...and it was so fresh. I had forgotten I was in a fresh water lake. I gasped and let out a large laugh/sigh/squeal.


"Paddle, paddle, paddle!" Repeat. Up, over, swoosh, up, over, swoosh!

Soon enough we were at our destination. These carvings are only able to be viewed by boat or kayak and were amazing. What you can't see in this picture are all the over incredible carvings. All those black rocks to the left are carved into animals and maori symbols. The rocks surrounding those are as well.

We were actually closer than this but couldn't balance paddling to keep us from getting pushed too close and balancing B's camera.

These were about as good of pictures as we got. As our guide says "It may be water proof but it sure isn't going to float!"


Its amazing how calm the water looks. Right around that corner is the toughest part.

But as you can see, I am genuinely loving this. I'm loving the rush of the water. I'm loving the adrenaline of paddling over the waves. I'm loving the feel of the fresh, cold lake splashing over us.

I might also be smiling because this way we'll be traveling with the waves, not against them.


I realize kayaking is hardly considered an adrenaline-inducing activity compared to other things available...but I'm doing things I never thought I'd do. I'm way out of my normal comfort level.

We stopped here for punch and some homemade sweets. It was a welcome break and I realized how tired I was. I also remembered that we were only half way done.

By the way, thats a little loading dock and there were quite a few families out there enjoying the sun with 3 of the most adorable dogs ever. 2 of the dogs were enjoying a swim and the other one, a pit bull puppy was awkwardly running around the kids.


Once we were back into calm water I pulled out the camera to take some pictures.

Translation: My arms were burning and I needed a rest.


B never stopped paddling and I was really glad that he had experience rafting. I could only imagine what that would've been like with me and...someone else like me in a kayak.

Let alone the steering part.

Does that picture make you feel off balance?


But at the end of the day, it was well worth the effort. Yet another thing I tried and liked.


Have you done any water sports? Kayak? Surf? Ski?


  1. Your honeymoon just cracks me up. I've never seen such adventure. Was there anything you didn't do??

    My only thought while paddling would be about my camera. I was so relieved when you said it was waterproof:) Those carvings were And the water was so blue! Who knew New Zealand was that interesting. I really only thought it was rolling green hills and sheep!

    BTW thank you for your prayers for my friend. You were one of the first people I thought of. I almost emailed you, but then reined myself in...until I knew. Anyway thank you:)

  2. We were using B's camera, its a Olympus Stylus Tough and its waterproof, shock proof and freeze proof. :)

  3. Oh those pictures....I would love to go kayaking, it's on my bucket list.
    As for doing any....water skiing, haven't done it in years, but used to love it.
    I had a horrible experience boogie boarding once...lets just say Hawaii saw more of my hiney then they ever cared too.

  4. Those carvings are incredible!!!

  5. The water looks so blue and clear, amazing, and those carvings are so cool! I would be so worried about my camera too, glad it was waterproof!!

  6. Gosh, I have to say my first thought was - "what was she thinking? taking her camera in the water?!" LOL, I should have realized you had the situation entirely under control and used a waterproof camera :) Beautiful pictures and looks like you both had a great time! We went canoeing once, many years ago. Around here, we call it a 'float trip'. We had such a great time and meant to go back again. Maybe we still will. Thanks for sharing another fantastic part of your trip! -Tammy

  7. I used to work at a kayak shop-I sold them...but I've never ever kayaked. It was pretty funny selling them! Talk about making stuff up.

    Sounds like hard work but the pictures are beautiful, makes it look like it was worth it!

    Match's dad has a couple of canoes that we keep insisting we will one day find the time to paddle along the river. I'm with you, I'm hoping for leisurely!

  8. Great photos!

    Found the link on Twitter


  9. I love kayaking, and I would definitely love to kayak there, but I'm with you - it's so hard to tell when it's going to be rough water for a kayak just by looking!

  10. I love your blog too! Kayaking is one of my favs. Are you in NZ right now? It's on my bucket list. Keep in touch!

    aka @Travelblggr &

  11. Absolutely gorgeous, gorgeous scenery! I've only been canoeing, but really enjoyed it. It definitely is a workout though!

  12. We own two kayaks. We used to use them all the time, but I flipped one in a river once with my baby daughter inside. Scared both of us silly.

  13. Dandy, how beautiful. I love kayaking, and that carving was cool. : ) Carrie

  14. Oh you are reminding me of my weekend warrior days. When I loved up North I used to whitewater kayak. I would have been in hog heaven on your paddling experience. Those carvings are Amazing!

  15. oops, I meant lived up north... hee hee, lived... loved :)

  16. I've been canoeing and raftingg but not kayaking! The carvings are pretty cool! Are they ancient?

  17. I would never Kayak because I don't like small spaces. I have been whitewater rafting and that was fun. Your pictures are great and you look adorable.

  18. Just rafting, and it's a lot of fun. Those carvings a very cool, well worth it. Thanks, once again I'm really appreciating the effort to bring us these amazing photos! : )

  19. What a great adventure. How cool to see those rock carvings! I've never had the desire to kayak -- canoeing, sailing, jet ski -- those are all fun, but the balance thing with kayaks scares me.


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