Solo Paddler Counts Down to Epic Trip
Solo Paddler Counts Down to Epic Trip
November 19th 2010
With just a week to go until cast off (November 27, 2010), adventurer Tim Taylor is hard at work on last minute preparations for a record - setting bid to solo kayak around New Zealand.
Tim is aiming to make history with the first complete solo circumnavigation of New Zealand by sea kayak.
Leaving on November 27th 2010 from Waimarino Adventure Park on the Wairoa River in Tauranga, Tim estimates his 5,500 km journey around the country’s rugged coastline will take three to six months. “I won’t consider my trip finished until I set foot back on that ramp at Waimarino,” he says.
No newcomer to kayaking, Tim grew up as a teenager training, racing, and coaching at Waimarino Adventure Park. He began in the sport as a 12 year-old with the Park’s Co-founder Barry Anderson, and soon progressed to top-level competition under the “tough but inspiring” guidance of Barry’s son (and current co-owner) Blair Anderson.
“Blair used to push us so hard in those early morning training sessions that at times he seemed only ever satisfied if he got one of us boys to spew!”
From these beginnings Tim has developed into a full-time athlete preparing for an odyssey that will be not only a New Zealand, but a world first.
“Growing up in a boat, I’ve always wondered what the next step of my journey will be. It was during one of those long training sessions, that I wondered if it’d be possible to kayak around New Zealand. A mate later told me that it had already been done, so it wouldn’t be worth doing anyway (but I went on to discover this wasn’t the case).
“Since those younger days I have gone through university, worked, and traveled around the world. But I never completely let go of the idea to kayak around New Zealand…”
In late December 2009, on his return from Europe, Tim revived the idea and sounded out his old coach Blair Anderson and his wife Charlotte. Within the space of an hour it’d gone from an idea to the reality of a planned expedition with its first sponsor – the Andersons.
Leaving his job as a tractor driver at Christmas and committing full time to the expedition was a difficult decision, but one Tim hopes will pay off. Tim has paddled almost daily, and committed countless hours to the hunt for sponsors. He is now supported by more than a dozen local, national, and international companies - including Mission Kayaks (Palmerston North), Back Country Cuisine (Invercargill), and GoPro (California). “I worked hard to gain these sponsors and they expect me to perform. One of my greatest fears is letting these companies down because they’ve all given me so much”.
The history of sea kayaking in New Zealand is relatively short but by no means uneventful. Prominent West Coast kayaker Paul Caffyn is credited with being the first person to paddle around New Zealand’s three main islands. In the late 1970’s, he first took on the South Island with friend Max Reynolds. The following year he completed a circuit of the North Island, and finished it all up with Stewart Island and Foveaux Straight. Paul Caffyn also notched up the first circumnavigation of Australia in a kayak during 1981 and ‘82.
In more recent times, there's been a flurry of activity around New Zealand by both men and women kayakers, but no one has managed a complete trip around the whole country. So Tim Taylor says a large part of his motivation for the epic trip is simply that "it’s there to be done.”
New Zealand has a daunting coastline 15,134 kms in length. Tim’s plan is to leave from Tauranga, travelling in a clockwise direction around the country to make the most of tidal flows, covering an estimated 60 to 100 kms a day, and around 5,500 kilometres overall.
He will break his day into two six-hour sessions, pulling into shore for lunch and to camp each night. To monitor his progress he’ll carry a GPS device call a SPOT. The gadget will send a continuous signal to satellites, and these will be plotted on a special Google Earth page linked to his website for all to view. Tim plans to call into almost every major coastal town along the way, and is warmly inviting the public to come and share some of the experience with him. “I’m counting on local people’s support and encouragement to help stay motivated,” he adds.
As the final date looms, training and preparations have become an obsession. Not even a recent white-water paddling injury that left him with 32 stitches and chipped front teeth, have stopped him.
Tim freely admits that he’s made many mistakes along the way and is likely to make many more, but reckons what he doesn’t know he’ll soon learn. “And then there’s the old saying that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” says Tim.
If you want to follow Tim or support him on his journey, check out his website www.nzkayaker.com for more details.
Tim will keep the site fully updated throughout, sharing his impressions of our amazing coastline through his blog, photos and video.