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It’s all about the garnish,’ fellow paddler, Janet, said after Nicholas placed a sprig of parsley on our lunch of green curry rice. We had paddled with Auckland Sea Kayaks from Auckland, across the Hauraki Gulf to the untouched Browns Island for this quiet lunch on the beach. Turned out, the whole trip was about ‘garnish.’
After arriving in Auckland for some R & R away from Christchurch’s sporadic shaking, I was picked up by Auckland Sea Kayaks owner Nicholas Mead from the YHA Auckland International and whisked to Buckland’s Beach—our launch point. Three other women joined the expedition.
Nicholas was our guide for the six-hour tour. Twenty-six-years-old and energetic, Nicholas fitted us four ladies with two double kayaks, Croc-like shoes, rain jackets and all other associated paraphernalia.
We launched from Bucklands Beach to enjoy a unique and peaceful side of Auckland. The weather was unseasonably warm while rainclouds and rain hovered over the mainland, but not over the Gulf. Time was forgotten as my kayak-buddy, Anne, and I fell into a rhythm of (*cough*) synchronicity. Never having kayaked before, Anne had seemed the most nervous setting out and was the most proud of her accomplishment when we returned to Auckland at the end of the day.
Reaching Browns Island, or ‘Motukorea,’ we walked to the summit of the volcano where we took pictures of the sweeping views of the Gulf and the city. My companions had lived in Auckland most of their lives and had never experienced this remoteness so close to home. They were in a kind of awe.
Back at sea level and on the beach, Nicholas warmed lunch on a camp stove as we sipped hot mint tea and watched sailboats drift by. Fully rested and fed, we were then prepared for the return paddle. We circumvented Brown’s Island, pointing our kayaks toward the Auckland shores.
Rain poured down just as we landed at Buckland’s Beach. Good thing Nicholas had provided us all with rain jackets. We packed away the kayaks and headed back to the city, but not before a quick stop at the dairy where Nicholas bought us frujus.
From the rain jackets to the hot mint tea and frujus, Nicholas proved he’d thought through all the finer details for this trip that was all about the ‘garnish.’ That is reason enough to opt for the guided approach when kayaking. It was my best day out in Auckland.