Sunday, January 13, 2008

Aussie kayakers arrive in New Zealand.

TWO Australian kayakers have completed their journey across the Tasman Sea.

James Castrission, 25, and Justin Jones, 24, reached shore at Ngamotu Beach, about 4km west of New Plymouth on NZ's West Coast, at 1220 local time (1020 AEDT).

The pair, who have spent the last two months paddling across the Tasman Sea, were given a heroes' welcome after completing their epic crossing today.

A crowd of about 3,000 gathered at New Plymouth to greet Castrission and Jones when they reached the shore.

During the past 62 days the pair travelled more than 3,300 kilometres and battled strong winds and tides that saw them go round in circles for part of the trip and arrive 20 days later than originally expected.

As they approached shore today a fleet of Maori wakas (canoes) sailed out to welcome them, as did dozens of local kayakers.

A New Zealand tug boat gave them a ``spray welcome'' by shooting water over their kayak, and a giant television screen was set up on the beach so those in the crowd could watch proceedings, entertained by a live band.

After greeting their families, they were expected to complete a customs check before being taken by ambulance to a local hospital to be checked up.

There were fears Jones would be unable to stand because of the deterioration to his leg muscles, which have not touched dry land in two months.

The pair are thought to be the first to kayak across the Tasman, and have taken part in the longest two-man kayaking voyage ever.

(From The Australian January 13, 2008)

Sue Bayliss. Cairns, Australia.

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