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December 3, 2013

We meet with Jo at the Fiordland Adventure office at 9 AM where she helps us to prepare a plan for a short kayaking trip around the lake. We set out from Pearl Harbour and paddle out from the river to the lake. We stay on the left side to avoid the ferry and other boats.

There is no wind and the forecast is high temperatures. Since we didn’t bring hats on this trip, we need to keep dripping water on our heads to prevent our brains from melting. We follow the coast of the peninsula between Surprise Bay and Circle Cove and turn the Stony Point. Some stretches of the shore are bare rock. It’s interesting to see how the vegetation grows directly on the rocks with no soil at all, just from a splotch of moss.

Kayaking in Lake Manapouri

We stop at a sandy beach to have lunch but the sandflies don’t let us enjoy the moment and we go back to paddling. Once on the water, they disappear. We head for the Bellevue Island where a colony of seagulls is nesting. Well before we approach them, they start squeaking and sweeping above us. We can see some of them incubating, on the rocks right by the shore. Then we paddle to the Mahara Island and hop from island to island till the Holmwood Island. There is a channel too shallow for boats but ok for kayaks and that’s our turning point.

Ducks in Lake ManapouriAlong the way we have seen a few flocks of ducks and the disturbances on the water surface probably due to trout, but that’s about all the wildlife we have seen. Well, not counting the sandflies and seagulls plagues.

On the way back, instead of going around the Stony Point again, we go through a short portage between Surprise Bay and Circle Cove. It’s a 100 meter long stretch through the beech forest. It makes it an odd place for a kayak: in the middle of a forest with tropical birds’ calls. The entrance to the trail is not marked. Look for it at the very right corner of the bay (Southwest). There is no beach. The exit is on a small sandy beach at the Surprise Bay.

When we pass next to Richters Rock, we call Jo with the radio she provided and we meet again at the Pearl Harbor. She drives us to the office and there we pack the bikes for our ride back to Te Anau. Jo has been very friendly storing some of our stuff while we were riding the Percy and Borland saddles. We thank her for all the help and leave Manapouri.

Hidroplane on the roadIn a little over an hour we cover the flat 20 Km to Te Anau where we get a room in the modern Alpine View Motel to spend the night. We re-stock on food for the next days at one of the town supermarkets. Our treat for the day is dinner at The Fat Duck: venison, lamb and dessert. The lamb could be better but the venison is pretty good.

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