Thursday 6th – kayaking the fjord and penguins!

Up 6am
Thermals on
Time for breakfast, toast, peanut butter and Vegemite
Teeth brushed we donned the rest of our kit – was a warm morning so no fleece, but thermals, splash jacket, kayak skirt and life jacket were all needed
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Headed out into the dark to collect kayaks and carry to water, then paddles, crossing a small stream each time – also a warm welcome from the sandflies
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After a quick chat about various signals and scenarios we were off into the water for our paddle around Doubtful Sound – so called as Captain Cook was doubtful it would make a good harbour

Paddled for about 3 hours, apparently we were lucky with the weather, v calm and once the sun was up, sunny! While we were out it was hard to get a sense of scale as there was nothing to provide perspective. From one side of sound a hill looked around 100m high, was actually over 1000m! (higher than Snowdon) and paddling from one side to the other took far longer than expected.

We would stop occasionally for a story, some facts or to look at penguins!!!! Fjordland crested penguins nonetheless!
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One of the stories explained the presence of the sandflies – the legend says that to stop people being mesmerised by the beauty of the place and never leaving the goddess of the underworld gave the sandflies to make sure people would go!
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We got back in time to strip off, have a quick shower and sit down for lunch – wraps, so yummy so hungry after our morning paddle.

Before long it was time to catch the bus that took us back to the ferry. At the info centre where we waited for the bus there were more sandflies, unbearable numbers so we all ended up inside and they were in there too!

The ferry journey back was good, more free coffee! Sadly once we were back we had to say goodbye to our kayaking guides and when we were back on our bus, discovered we had to say goodbye to Shortie (our driver) too – she had been suffering from a bad back for several days, but now it had reached unbearable levels of pain. We met our new driver, Max, when our paths crossed on the way back towards Queenstown, said a sad goodbye to Shortie and then we were away.

Max turned out to be a Barenaked Ladies fan so, in my role as bus DJ, they were on the stereo for a whole album! Soon followed by Crowded House then more rocky hits from the past! We drove from Frankton (just outside QT) across to Wedderburn where we were staying to do a section of the rail trail the following day.

We were staying in the Wedderburn Tavern, a pub (awesome roast lamb for dinner) with rooms (converted barns) out the back.
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