WELLINGTON: A New Zealand adventurer has become the first person to kayak the Tasman Sea solo after a gruelling two-month voyage that saw him pestered by a shark and battling “washing machine” conditions.
Scott Donaldson set off from Australia’s Coffs Harbour on May 2 and paddled ashore at New Plymouth, on New Zealand’s North Island late Monday night.
The 48-year-old’s 2,200-kilometre (1,370-mile) journey took him across one of the southern hemisphere’s most notorious stretches of water in a six-metre long carbon-fibre kayak.
Donaldson said he often paddled for 16 hours a day in choppy conditions and swells of up to six metres.
“It was bloody hard work, I’m knackered,” he said.
“Some days I paddled to the point of exhaustion then got up and paddled harder the next day.”
About halfway through the trip a “frisky” shark approached the kayak as he was taking a break, forcing him to resume paddling.
“We had a little game of peek-a-boo and he wanted to chew on my rudder but luckily I managed to avoid that,” he told TV3.
Donaldson, who undertook the journey to raise funds for asthma research, said after he landed that he was looking forward to a shower and tucking into a meat-and-vegetable pie.
He made a similar attempt in 2014 but had to abandon it after being at sea for 84 days — and coming within 80 kilometres of the New Zealand coast — when his kayak capsized in a storm.
A 2007 attempt to kayak the Tasman by Australian Andrew McAuley ended in tragedy when his vessel overturned within sight of New Zealand.
Despite an extensive search triggered by McAuley’s last radio call for help, his body was never found.