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February 18, 2014

Steff on the Puhoi River

Grymm and Frostbitten Lands, Steff

On Sunday five friends and I tackled the (not-so) mighty Puhoi River on kayak. We had an absolute blast. If you’re ever in this area of New Zealand, I would highly recommend this as a fun day out.

The first adventure of the day was actually getting to Puhoi, which is a picturesque village somewhat north of Auckland. If you stick to SH16, you’ll need to go through a toll tunnel, but CDH thought he’d take a different route. We ended up 4-W-Ding it down this insane gravel road, which in places was only one-lane-wide. According to Google Maps, it was the long-way round, but we arrived before anyone else.

Puhoi is a beautiful village to visit. There's a historic church, museum, and a very famous pub and cheese shop.

Puhoi is a beautiful village to visit. There’s a historic church, museum, and a very famous pub and cheese shop.

Puhoi is one of New Zealand’s two ethnic historic villages (the other being Akaroa, which is close to Christchurch and settled by the French in the 1840′s). It was originally settled in 1863 by immigrants from Bohemia, an area which is now the Czech Republic. The voyage to New Zealand took around 120 days, and upon disembarking in Auckland, the settlers were taken the final 4 miles to the village up the river in Maori canoe.

The village retains much of the Bohemian charm, including the historic church, the museum, and the famous Puhoi Pub. For more details, check out the Puhoi village website.

The word “Puhoi” is a Maori name and translates to ‘slow-water’ – referring to the slow gentle tide that ebbs and flows the 8km to Puhoi Village from the sea.

We rented kayaks from Puhoi River Canoe Hire. Basically, you choose how many kayaks you want, give them a date and time you’ll show up, they kit you out with a life jacket, give you a map, push you off, and you’re away!

Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I am not exactly sharp in the eyes department. Being legally-blind doesn’t preclude me from doing much (except flying a plane and driving a car … legally) but it does mean that I am sometimes a bit of a hazard to other people in my general vicinity.

Here I am, about to paddle off down the river.

Here I am, about to paddle off down the river.

So when the lovely kayak man shoved me off and I went gliding out onto the water, in the midst of the bottleneck of 20 other kayakers learning the ins and outs of paddlin’, I spotted my friend, and promptly proceeded to ram her.

This photo was taken mere moments before my ramming.

This photo was taken mere moments before my ramming.

And that was by no means my first ramming incident of the day. Before 20 minutes were through I had made contact with all of my friends at least twice, rammed two strangers, and later I whacked my BFF in the face with my paddle. So yeah, that’s me – Paddled and Dangerous.

puhoi trip group kayak

I got the hang of not hitting people eventually, though, and we meandered slowly down the river, taking in some of the beautiful scenery and chatting about this and that.

Because the river is tidal, and we’ve paddling with the tide, the journey is very easy. This is definitely suitable for beginning kayakers, although it’s so picturesque that those with a bit of experience will enjoy it, too.

We got a bit stuck toward the end, where the tide had gone out so far we were bumping along on the sand for a while, but we got to the end in one piece.

Pretty.

Pretty.

Our group in the kayaks.

Our group in the kayaks.

We followed our river exercise with a lunch at the Puhoi cheese cafe. Puhoi is famous for its cheeses, and the selection definitely lived up to the reputation. Then CDH drove us home through the gravel road again (it was FUN) and we had to take a detour from our detour after a tree fell across the road.

We went back to our place via a friend from CDH’s work, where we picked up these four ladies:

Eat Omelette Every Day.

Eat Omelette Every Day.

Super fun way to spend a summer’s day with friends. I would definitely do again.

Kayak rental $50 per person for approx. 2 hours. You need to book because the river is tidal. Contact Puhoi River Canoe Hire for more information.