I hadn't thought of taking the kids kayaking before. I love adventures but presumed they would get bored after, hmm, 10 minutes.
They proved me wrong. This time I was happy to be wrong. And that doesn't happen often. :)
We were in Queenstown with King River Rafting. Paul normally takes people out white water rafting, but for kids aged five and seven, as you know, rafting is not really that appropriate. So he suggested a kayak up the Franklin River. He also liked the idea of getting some kids pics to promote that area of his biz.
Leaving Strahan early, I'd forgotten to pack spare clothes so was hoping we wouldn't get too wet. Oh well, I thought to myself, it's just kayaking (and worse case scenario, we can blast the heaters in the car when we get back). When Paul brought out wetsuits, booties and thermal layers for all of us I realised I had completely underestimated the experience and how cold we could get. Oops.
The kids looked ridiculously cute in the smallest adult gear we could find. Wetsuit legs rolled up like big cream puffs. Booties that flopped about like flippers. They stomped about with giggles.
The next clue to our adventure not being as leisurely as I thought hit me when we arrived at the river. I hauled a kayak over my head and plodded for ten minutes down the forest path to the river. Of course Paul asked if I was ok, but of course I answered, 'yep, no problems'. The kids had to carry a paddle each while I stepped one foot in front of the other, blinded by the kayak, hoping I wouldn't fall in the leech-infested ferns.
While Paul climbed in his and slid down the rock face to the water, I was a little more cautious. I shouldn't have worried, the blow-up kayaks are very stable and can handle just about anything, as I was soon to discover. Ashton jumped in and was paddling before I could push off the rocks.
We paddled for about five minutes. I'm sure I looked ridiculous... learning how to paddle straight using the paddle out one side only (not switching sides). The kayak nosing left then right up river, Paul had to come back and check in on me a few times. It was definitely a slow start.
Then we hit a rapid - with no water. Slimy rocks and branches lay strewn across the river. Hmm. Paul was all over it. He hopped out, hitched his canoe above his head and ran over the rocks to the next section of the river. Then he returned and did the same with our kayaks.
Meanwhile, I was desperate to find a non-slippery rock or branch to step on, and make sure the kids do the same (I don't think I found one). They loved it. I worried about them falling. Nothing unusual. But after doing this about five times up river, I was getting used to it. Then we had to do it all again on the way back. Workout? You bet. Fun? Definitely. Scenic? Given. It's truly stunning.
And... did the kids enjoy it? Absolutely. We took a risk, but because it was just us and Paul, and knew we could turn back at any time. But the kids just kept on going. They loved to 'help' paddle, lay down and watch the water float by, and grab hold of Paul's canoe to get a pull.
Their favourite bit? Clambering all over the wet rocks. Ashton also loved skimming rocks over the river surface - well, trying to.
My favourite part? Getting the hang of keeping the kayak straight while moving forward, using only one paddle. Winning!
Here are the pics I took...
NOTE: Definitely make sure you have a wet bag or housing for your camera - it will get wet.