Trip Report – Lake Rotoiti, September 2020

On a recent sunny spring day, two of us took a Swift Coastal Double to Lake Rotoiti, in the Nelson Lakes National Park. This was a nice day out and a trial to see how much gear we could stow on and in the double, and therefore whether overnight trips are possible.

View up Lake Rotoiti, snow on tops

Lake Rotoiti is about 600m above sea level, 80m deep, and surrounded by mountains. Beech forest runs right to the water’s edge, with alpine tops above the bushline. It was very cool and crisp on our rowing morning – we stepped around ice-covered puddles, but enjoyed warm sun while rigging the double (an easy 5 minute job) and loading our gear. With drybags in the bow hatch, and in the netted storage area on the stern, there’s plenty of room for compact sleeping bags and overnight food, so more excursions are on t

he horizon.

Small jetty, view of lake

We stayed relatively close to shore to enjoy the beech forest and birdsong, took lots of photos, and rowed to the head of the Lake. We called in to look at Coldwater Hut, a Department of Conservation Hut at the Eastern head of the Lake, and then rowed over to the much bigger DOC Lakehead Hut. We commented on how good the water was – we could have been happy rowing in racing singles. With the boat tied up in the shallows, we walked about 200m through beautiful beech forest, and ate our lunch in the sun on the steps of the hut. There were a few others aboutĀ  – a helicopter with pest management team, a few walkers and an energetic couple running right around the 25km-ish Lakeside track.

Boat parked in shallows

Back to the boat, and – hmm – the wind had come up a little. And it kept coming up. The homeward row was a totally different experience, and we were SO GLAD to be in the Swift Coastal! Racing singles? No thanks. We had no hands free to take photos on this leg of the trip. Phil laughed out loud a few times as the splashguard protected him from the waves that broke over the side of the boat, but they broke right onto me in the stroke seat. Great fun – this is indeed a water sport! Once again we stayed close to shore, which made the waves more lumpy due to the wind direction, but was safer from a ‘what if we should capsize?’ point of view – that lake is cold. The Swift Coastal double, built for waves, handled beautifully.

NZ Beechforest

Back at the main jetty we tied on two sets of C-tug kayak wheels, and rolled up the concrete boat ramp. We parked the boat on a slope to drain while we got changed into dry clothes, and then it was a simple case of de-rig, load up and head for home.

We’re learning some little tricks and hacks to makeĀ  transport and

load/unload of the Swift Coastals easier. These are heavier and much wider than regular rowing skiffs, nimble on the water but a little unwieldy off-water, until you’ve got a routine worked out. We’re happy to share our learnings.

Conclusions from our day out?Double on truck parked by Lake

  • These boats are seriously fun, and seriously safe.
  • The Swift double is ideal as an adventure craft – with good drybags and careful stowage of gear there’s plenty of scope for expeditions.
  • The splashguard works great for the bowperson!