© NZPocketGuide.com
© NZPocketGuide.com

Kayaking in a Canyon of Glowworms

© NZPocketGuide.com

318 Days on the Road

We are stoked! During our 365 Days: 365 Activities, we have seen a fair few glowworms. We’ve even done some pretty awesome kayaking missions, but never have we had the two put together! Yep, today we are doing a glowworm kayaking trip!

An unexpected start to the adventure

It kind of goes without saying, but the glow of the glowworms can only be seen in the dark so we arrive for our Waimarino Kayak Tour late afternoon. The base for the kayak tours is quite a crazy setup in itself! We walk down a set of steps down into the Waimarino Adventure Park. We duck under a slide for kayaks (?!) and to a riverside of all sorts of apparatus: trampolines and balance beams on the river, a waterslide and a climbing wall. Well, we do have half an hour to kill before our kayaking trip…

Climbing wall fails

Next thing we know, we are hitting the climbing wall to see if we have improved our skills from our climbing session back on Day 61 in Ohakune. In short, Robin is still afraid of heights and Laura is still a weak sh*t, so let’s swiftly move onto the kayaking trip…

The journey to McLaren Falls Park

We meet our kayaking guides for this evening, Tom and Calvin, and join seven other keen kayakers in a van attached to a trailer full of kayaks. From here, we hit the road to the put-in point at Lake McLaren. Throughout the 15-minute drive through rolling green hills of farmland, our guides show us a few points of interest such as “rare animals” like sheep. Their wisecrack remarks keeps the tour fun and lighthearted.

Wine and cheese on the lakeside

Admittedly, we took a sneaky trip to McLaren Falls Park yesterday to check out the falls and do a couple of walks. But as we cross the bridge over a cascade of waterfalls and into the park full of autumn colours, our guides give us heaps more insights about the place that we didn’t know when coming here yesterday. Where most people make the most of the walks here when visiting McLaren Falls Park, this evening we are going to be making the most out of Lake McLaren!

We park up alongside the lake and as fast as lightening, our guides whip out of the van and put together an impressive spread of cheese, crackers, salami, nuts, dried kiwifruit, chips, dip, and wine! Woah! The table is complete with a tablecloth and wine glasses! Now we can snack while Tom and Calvin sneakily set up the kayaking equipment like ninjas. Why can’t all tours be like this?!

Pre-kayaking banter with wine, cheese and lake views

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Conversing with ducks and gearing up

We sip on locally-produced wine, socialise and take in the beautiful evening views around us, such as the array of exotic trees reflecting in the lake before us. Soon enough, the feast is joined by more guests in the form of ducks. Calvin starts having a conversation with a duck who is a regular to the feast, called Ronald (or something), who can usually catch chips in the air. When Ronald fails to perform, that’s when Calvin moves onto giving us a quick paddling lesson then gearing us up for the kayaking trip.

There’s plenty of gear to keep us warm and dry, from fleeces to kayaking skirts to splash jackets. We can even wear these weird kayaking mittens called “pogies” if we want.

Kayaking on Lake McLaren

Once we are looking sexy, we double up in a sea kayak with a red light attached to the front and hit the lake. Already, it’s getting dark yet the placidity of the lake still captures the stunning reflections of the trees around us. Once every kayak is in the water, we start paddling to make our kayaks do a smooth gliding motion across the lake. We pass large black swans on our way further down the lake where it starts to narrow. We can now only make out the silhouettes of the trees towering above us.

Shimmying into a canyon of glowworms

We hear a low hum in the distance, which initiates Calvin to clip our kayak to his back. Calvin paddles us safely into a narrow canyon and passed the working power station. As we pass the power station, our attention is instantly drawn up to the thousands of faint blue lights in the trees. They get brighter and more intense the further into the canyon we go. They decorate the trees like fairy lights at Christmas. Beautiful.

The story of the glowworms

Once all the kayaks are gathered together, we float under the galaxy of glowworms while Calvin tells us about the disturbing life-cycle of these unusual creatures. We get plenty of time to marvel at the pretty display, before Calvin is leading us back out of the canyon again. Once it’s safe, it’s just a peaceful paddling session in the dark back to the beginning. This moment in itself is a pretty unique experience in New Zealand, but after just seeing thousands and thousands of glowworms, we know we have done something pretty special tonight!

Goodbye glowworms and back to Mt Maunganui

Unfortunately, we have to part with our sexy kayaking attire and hop back into the van. With everyone knowing each other a little better than the start of the tour, the van is full of banter on the way back to base. We say goodbye to our guides and fellow tour-goers and head back to Mt Maunganui where we are staying in the super social and friendly Pacific Coast Lodge.

Join us tomorrow where we start checking out “what’s happening” around Tauranga, starting with the Paradox Street Art Festival. See you then!

Kayaking at night: Why not?

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