Travis Easton

Boronia, Australia

Australia’s rugged landscape is an important part of my life and over many years I have explored some of the more remote parts of it on...

Cape Kidnappers

In early May 2012 I recieved a call from a band called Sons of Korah and a few weeks later found myself touring with them in New Zealand when their normal drummer couldn’t do it. I had a fantastic time making great music with great guys in a beautiful country. We had two days off near Hastings in the middle of the tour and on the second day I did a walk out to Cape Kidnappers.

Cape Kidnappers was named by Captain Cook after an incident where some Maori’s kidnapped a Tahitian who was travelling with him. It also happens to have the largest Gannet colony on mainland New Zealand with most tourists visiting the cape during the Gannet breading season which runs between August and April. During Gannet season Gannet Beach Adventures operates a tractor tour which tows trailers full of tourist the 10km out to the cape at the base of huge sea cliffs. As I discovered the tractor tour is a great idea because this is a low tide only journey and it simply takes too long to go this far and back again on foot in the time required.

The additional problem I had was being unable to straddle low tide as it was at 7:00am before dawn, high at 1:00pm and low again at 6:00pm. After a hearty eggs and bacon breakfast Stuart the tour manager was good enough to drop me off at the coast at 7:00am in time to witness a gorgeous sunrise.

The cliffs were absolutely spectacular in the morning light and were intersected by many gorges which distracted me long enough to cause some real issues at the far end.

The far headland is the one before Cape Kidnappers. As you can see a long way to go when your racing the tide.

At about 10:00am I finally reached the headland before Cape Kidnappers which was already well underwater. I took my shoes and socks off and walked around the first rocky headland (about thigh deep) only to be confronted by many more. After a failed attempt to climb over a headland and the tide coming in rapidly I took the plunge and went up to my middle between waves to get around the second headland. I was able to scale the third but then had to drop off it back into the water to get back to the beach. This is where I had a momentary lack of judgment. Of course rule number one when doing coastal walking is to always know what the surf is doing and never ever turn your back to the sea. Unfortunately to get off the headland that is exactly what I had to do, I judged that this would be a quick affair however but it proved more difficult to get off than I thought. It looked like I could lower myself to the bottom but as it turned out I couldn’t and being in bare feet and not being able to see the bottom I didn’t want to leap onto sharp rocks. By the time I had worked this out and finally lowered myself down I had, had my back to the waves for ten seconds and a moment after touching down a wave went straight over my head. By all rights this should have been fine as I have a Lowepro dryzone rover a waterproof backpack unfortunately this was the trip the zip had finally decided to give out so instead of having a waterproof PVC compartment I had created a bathtub that held the water in.

The headland where I came undone.

Fortunately I had passed the worst of it and was soon on a rocky headland trying to dry out my $$$$ gear. From the top it looked dry and it was only at the visitor shelter further up the beach that I discovered the inch of water in the bottom of the ‘dryzone’. Now why are all the lenses I just painstakingly dried wet again? Fortunately there was a toilet block nearby which delivered an ample supply of toilet paper that I used to dry my bag, camera, filters and lenses. Fortunately everything survived this ordeal but it was quite sobering to see ten years of savings in peril.

From here I ascended the track to the headland that overlooked the vacant Gannet colony.

And from the other side, note the dare devil sheep happily feeding on this near cliff.

It was now high tide and a return journey via the sea cliffs was out of the question unless I waited until late afternoon. I decided to return via the inland route and set off along some farm tracks. This way ended up being almost double the distance of the sea cliff route but was quite safe. On the way I passed an exclusive private golf club and it was only when I reached the main road did I see a sign that informed me that I had been trespassing, oops. I had not seen a soul all day.

After a phone call I was picked up half an hour later and after a quick shop had a superb home cooked dinner. Life is good.

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