'It was everything': Kiwi kayaker Scott Donaldson recalls best moment on his Tasman voyage

  • 03/07/2018

Kiwi kayaker Scott Donaldson says there was a particularly special moment during his voyage across the Tasman. 

He made history on Monday as the first person to kayak solo across the Tasman Sea, arriving on the shores of New Plymouth at about 8:40pm on Monday evening to fireworks and cheers from supporters gathered on Ngamotu Beach.

Mr Donaldson has attempted the voyage before. In 2014 he came agonisingly close. He was injured when his kayak rolled in a storm, and had to be rescued 80 kilometres from shore. He told The AM Show on Tuesday that passing the mark where he needed to be rescued last time was very satisfying. 

"In a lot of ways, it was everything really. This time around, for me, it was about improving on what I did last time and I did that in just about every area which was great," he said. 

"That's the sense of satisfaction for me, but at the end of the day, for everyone else, I've done it all before except for that last 80km. I really took a breath and tried to appreciate the last couple of days."

Mr Donaldson said the voyage "took a lot of hard work, planning and support from a lot of people". Aside from the gruelling task of paddling for 16 hours a day, he said completing the challenge really came down to having a strong mentality. 

"There's no set routine - it's all based around the weather, so on a good day you'll paddle for 16 hours and to do that you've got to be very busy, up 45 minutes early to start strapping yourself together while maintaining your skin and other stuff like managing food," he said. 

"It depends how rough it is outside whether you're going to have time to eat properly or eat quickly. You try and find good currents to hide in during the negative weather, but that doesn't always happen."

Mr Donaldson says he encountered a shark about 2-and-a-half metres long on his trip. He said it was friendly but got a bit frisky at night time. 

"We had a little game of peek-a-boo."

The first thing he ate when he arrived in New Zealand was a steak and vegetable pie.