Pipen Island (a Labour Day excursion)

The sun was just starting to set Sunday evening on Labour Weekend.  My wife and I were relaxing watching the evening news when we heard a knock at the door.  Francelle went to answer. It was Jada from our church.  “Hey, we were just wondering if you’d be keen to come kayaking with us tomorrow around Pipen Island.  The weather is looking pretty good.”

IMAG00392Pipen Island- I’m keen, I immediately thought. We had just driven out to take a look at that earlier in the day.  What a beautiful spot.  We actually drove out there looking for a place to go mountain bike riding.  I said to her, “You know, that looks like a great place to kayak.”

So early next morning we loaded up the kayaks on the roof rack.  This is just the thing we needed.  It had almost been 3 months since our son’s motorcycle accident in LA that left him without a leg.  We had been separated a total of 9 weeks in taking turns to care for him.  Now that he was back in NZ being cared for, we finally had some time for ourselves.  This was perfect!

Pipen Island is only a 40 min. drive from where we live in Nelson.  It was purchased in 1996 by a German business woman for NZ $2 million. It was overgrown, overgrazed and run down, with wild goats running all over it.  She put a farm manager on it who improved it greatly by planting trees, fencing it and taking care of pest control.  But the best feature about it is it’s rugged coast with loads of sea caves and stony beaches.  We went to investigate.


It was a gorgeous day – perfect for kayaking.  Tony and Jada had  a couple of Perception kayaks with spray skirts.  We had our multipurpose Espri Viking Kayaks which were just fine for this kind of excursion.

IMAG00401The breeze was a little stronger than I thought – Francelle decided to don herself with a wetsuit, just in case.  That desert girl!  The sub-tropical climate in NZ is just a little too cool for her, especially when it comes to on-the-water activities.  We felt the sun’s heat – even on the shore.  It would get hotter on the water.  Sun-screen application was applied very generously with us all.

Once we got out on the water we knew we had made the very best choice as to what to do for the day.  The water was flat, the sun was blazing and everything looked just spectacular.


I think the beauty of kayaking is the peacefulness of it all.  The only sound you can hear is the water lapping against your boat and the soft voices of your friends, chatting about, well – whatever friends like to chat about!  It’s just a fantastic wind-down time.


Probably the highlight for us both were the sea caves, especially when you are investigating a place for the first time.  Each one holds its own mystery.  What is in there?  Shall I brave it?  What if I get stuck?  It’s all part of the adventure.

IMAG00429 (2)

Sometimes we found a shortcut, like this one.  I think the picture says it all.


More caves!

IMAG00437This was a lovely spot.  We stayed here for quite some time, watching the Krags (NZ coastal bird) up above in their nests – while also avoiding their deposits!  The picture doesn’t quite show it, but the cliff faces were arrayed in several different colours and textures.  They looked stunning.

Driving home that afternoon I thought how beautiful God’s creation is and how little we appreciate it.  There’s an old saying that goes, ‘sometimes we need to stop and smell the roses.’  There’s something about a walk or paddle or a bike-ride that does more than exercise the body.  It is good for the soul.




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