A small group of Maitahi paddlers made the long trip South last week for the Ki Uta Ki Tai event on Lake Te Anau.
Jeff Neilson and Tony Davies were the first to depart, early on Wednesday morning with the singles trailer and seven waka onboard. The sun was shining and there wasn’t a breath of wind so, despite numerous coffee stops and the inevitable senior master ‘comfort breaks’ that go with them, we got to Wanaka at 7.30pm Wednesday night.
After a good night’s sleep we were up early again to pick up Peter and Helen Bywater from Queenstown airport and then headed down to Te Anau. Meanwhile Seb Head had nearly caught us up on his epic solo trip down in his car, despite leaving about 8 hours later than us on Wednesday.
The vast majority of the crew flew down and grabbed a hire van in Queenstown. Sean Timoney and Zoe Horvath, Liz van Beek, Suze from Te Tai and Anisha and Anna from Waikawa. Last to turn up on Friday were Gerard Malcolm who drove down, narrowly avoiding hitting a deer on the Haast pass, and Tracey Kingi and Corinna Gage who flew in.
By then, the rest of us had already enjoyed an incredible day down in Milford Sound. Six of us took to the water in singles while everyone else went on one of the ship tours around the Sound. According the the skipper, we were enjoying one of the best days you are ever likely to find in Fjordland.
A few of us then spent the afternoon climbing up to Key Summit, which rewarded us with some extraordinary views. Seb and Tony looked a bit special as well.
The evening was spent in serious race preparation at the pub before running the gauntlet of an unexpected police blockade of the road in Te Anau. Our slightly overloaded ute was kindly ignored by the cops !
Next morning was race day at lake Te Anau. Zoe’s crew negotiated the 15km course in style in 1h 26m while we watched and hydrated (or re-hydrated for those whose pre race beer intake was a bit higher). Krakenz then chased an Open Men’s crew for the whole race before fading in the last 2km and finishing a couple of boat lengths behind in 1h 13m. We did get a nice trophy, which means we will have to return next year to defend it.
Big thanks to Oraka- Aparima Runaka Waka Ama club for their hospitality and organisation in difficult circumstances. After the race we headed off to Queenstown for a couple of nights, some paddling on Lake Wakatipu in singles and sixes (thanks Leon), a few beers and shots (for the wahine, we were more sensible) and then the long trip home. Who knows if we will ever get the same weather again but put this race in your diaries and book some time off for next year. It’s amazing.
Its never too early or too late to start paddling waka ama
We always welcome new members to the Maitahi Outrigger Canoe Club.
We have social and racing waka ama crews catering for a wide variety of ages and abilities.