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Kiwi Scott Donaldson reaches Taranaki - the first person to kayak the Tasman solo

August 20, 2018

 

By: JANE MATTHEWS (Stuff)

 

Kiwi adventurer Scott Donaldson arrives in New Plymouth after kayaking from Australia.

 

Kiwi adventurer Scott Donaldson talked of how he had to battle the wild Tasman Sea and overcome a tussle with a "frisky" shark to become the first person to kayak 2200 kilometres from Australia to New Zealand solo.

And the trans-Tasman kayaker has revealed, despite spending 62 days at sea, there was never a point he felt frightened.

 

His wife Sarah, and eight-year-old son Zac, were among hundreds of people gathered at a New Plymouth beach to welcome him onto dry land on Monday night.

 

Donaldson said during his press conference after arriving on New Plymouth's Ngāmotu Beach, inside Port Taranaki, that the hardest part after setting off from Coffs Harbour, Australia, on May 2 was not the distance, but the way the body of water works in the Tasman Sea.

 

"It's so choppy out there," Donaldson said of the swirling six metre-plus waves that were like a "washing machine" coming at him all angles.

"It was bloody hard work," he added. "I'm knackered.

"Some days I paddled to the point of exhaustion then got up and paddled harder the next day."

 

When he arrived on land the kayaker said there was never a point he doubted himself, or felt scared, during his trip.

 

"You're only frightened if you're not expecting something," he said. "Worried yes, but I wouldn't say frightened." 

 

 

 

This was his third attempt at the Tasman Sea crossing.

In 2013 he left Australia was forced to turn back after his satellite phone was soaked in a leaking bag.

 

Then, during 2014, Donaldson came agonisingly close to completing the trip. He'd paddled half the Tasman with an unrepairable rudder, sat through a once-in-40-year storm and, when he was 80kms off the coast of New Zealand, the attempt had to be aborted.

 

"Last time was an adventure because I hadn't seen or done any of it," Donaldson said. "This time, I'd done all of it bar the 80kms.

"So the last two days have been a novelty and fantastic."

 

People started to gather about 5pm on Monday on Ngāmotu Beach. By 7pm, crowd numbers were in the hundreds and Donaldson was just kilometres from the sand.

 

By 7pm on Monday there were hundreds of people on the sand.

Once he saw his family and the crowds Donaldson said he had no words, but called this the "perfect ending".

 

Donaldson's wife and son had been in New Plymouth for a week anxiously awaiting his arrival.

 

On Friday, Donaldson's support vessel met him in the early hours and restocked him with some of his favourite foods, sausage rolls, chicken sandwiches and some peanut slabs for the final push.

 

Aided by tail winds, from the west, Scott made 75kms on Sunday and started paddling again at 7.30am Monday morning in the hopes of reaching landfall.

When asked what's next, Donaldson looked at his wife with a grin and said "family time".

 

The custom built ocean kayak built by the Barracuda Kayaks team

 

 

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