NZ Herald Review of Northland Sea Kayaking

Excerpt from Travel and Leisure section of the New Zealand Herald, by John Hutton, August 24, 1999.

Northland Sea Kayaking is run by personable Richard Israel from his home near Whangaroa Harbor. Combining his love of the sea and expertise as a paddler, he provides a range of interesting kayak adventures. Other activities, such as snorkeling, fishing, hiking and overnight camping, can easily be included in the trips.

We chose to stay in Israel's on-site accommodation, a secluded bush cabin. While there are more sophisticated options at nearby Tauranga Bay and Whangaroa, we quickly bonded to this basic but cosy hideaway. The coastal view from its panoramic front is superb. With no electricity (the kitchen is gas-powered) the mix of candlelight and moonlight proved both relaxing and romantic. And to round things off, there's an amazing "air-con" bathroom, complete with flush toilet and shower in a private bush setting.

We spent a couple of days with Israel. Although we were complete amateurs at kayaking, he soon had us paddling with assurance across the calm Whangaroa Harbor waters.

That morning we visited isolated bays and picturesque streams nestled among the rocky cliffs and native bush, discovering the harbor is an all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant. Oysters and pipis are bountiful and trailing a fishing line behind the kayak will often provide the evening's supper.

After lunch we left the harbor to explore several spectacular sea caves and grottos. Overcoming our initial apprehension, we followed Israel into various narrow caverns. A gentle swell ensured we enjoyed a thrilling and memorable experience.

By day's end we felt accomplished and really pleased with ourselves. For a couple of mid-40's of mid-fitness, we had come through well. "If someone feels unsure about fitness," say Israel, " I can pair them with someone stronger in one of the two-seater kayaks." We paddled assuredly past golden beaches back to his home, sharing the waters with feeding penguins, gannets and cormorants. The next day's ocean trip to the picturesque Cavelli Islands couldn't come soon enough.

Nevertheless, we slept soundly that night, lulled by the soothing sounds of the sea, the distant calls of a morepork and the sense of satisfaction that comes from finding what you were looking for.


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