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Kayak Camping: Planes, Inflatables & New Zealand's Mitre Peak with Mountaineer, Cameron Caddaye

Blog Banner-Kayak Camping-Planes Inflatables & New Zealands Mitre Peak

In this video, we caught up with aussie based mountaineer Cameron Caddaye to talk about kayak camping and how he used his Advanced Elements Convertible Elite inflatable kayak to carry everything he needed to attempt New Zealand's Mitre Peak.

During the interview, Cameron speaks candidly about the kayak's performance which was able to travel with him on a plane from Australia all the way to the Mitre Peak campsite. The Convertible Elite is an incredibly versatile kayak that is ready for tandem or solo paddlers and can handle a whopping 249kgs of payload. Great for overnight camp trips.

For more info on the Convertible Elite as well as an in-depth setup and walk through video: Advanced Elements Convertible Elite Inflatable 2 Person Kayak

Kayak Camping on Mitre Peak - by Cameron Caddaye

For years my friend Sam and I have been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to travel to New Zealand and make an attempt on the notoriously dangerous mountain that stands guard over the Milford Sound – Mitre Peak. Renowned for its exposed ridgelines and incredible views, it only attracts the most dedicated hikers owing to its inaccessibility and unpredictable weather.

an image of the car ride towards mitre peak in milford sound

Crossing the Sound

The first major hurdle is making the 2km crossing of the Sound. In previous years a water taxi or kayak rental company would facilitate an easy crossing, but after a number of incidents on the mountain these services were discontinued in an attempt to discourage summit attempts. Not one to take no for an answer I began searching for alternative means to cross the choppy, icy cold Sound. By chance I came across the Advanced Elements 2 person Kayak which had some pretty impressive stats – much better than the rather questionable bargain bin options seen in some of the outdoor stores which I suspect would be operating a submarine service in the Sound had I chosen it instead.The kayak was large enough that it could take the weight of 2 people and all our camping gear, but compact enough that I could check it in on a flight to Queenstown. Certainly heavier than a pack raft, but more durable in the rough and wild weather that the Fiordland is famous for.

setting up the convertible elite inflatable kayak in the milford sound car park

Armed with gear for 3 days and an on-call meteorologist we waited in a cabin not far from Te Anau. The night before our attempt our Met man gave us some bad news, our 2 day weather window had been reduced to a single day due to a faster than expected front system.
Discouraged, we flirted with the idea of moseying down to the Sound and going for a tranquil day paddle and abandoning our Mitre Peak dream. But we couldn’t let our dream die that easily, so ignoring our better judgement and our Meteorologist we decided to try anyway.

We had read the Sandflies at Milford Sound were bad, and let me tell you, those reports were accurate. So it’s just as well the inflation process for the Kayak was quick and easy and before long we were in the Sound paddling towards the imposing peak staring down at us.

a picture of the kayak fully loaded with camping and hiking gear

We arrived at Sinbad River and quickly packed away the kayak and stashed it in some nearby bushes. We had read that another guy who had attempted the hike had returned to discover that the tide had carried his kayak away so we were both pretty eager to avoid that. The hike to the campsite was more challenging than we had anticipated, a very faint trail with thick forest and fallen trees made progress painstakingly slow. Eventually our hard work began to show results as we emerged from the dense forest to a clearing with some excellent views over the Milford Sound.

Our happiness was short lived as the next stage was a steep descent followed by a steep ascent up to the campsite. There is nothing more demoralising than a long descent while you are climbing a mountain. The campsite was just large enough for a single tent, but what it lacked in size it made up for in views – the best views I have ever seen in my life! We enjoyed the sunset and had an early night waiting in suspense to see if our Meteorologist’s bleak prediction was indeed accurate.

an image looking out of the tent on a campsite on mitre peak

The sunrise was spectacular, clear skies and calm winds filled us with some hope that we would be able to make a bid for the summit but as we disassembled the tent the notorious Milford Sound wet and windy weather began to rear its ugly head – amazingly almost to the minute that our Met man had predicted. Defiant, we continued up the ridge to try our luck and see if we could race to the top before the rain set in. It wasn’t too long until we both concluded the wet conditions, increasing wind and reducing cloud base were going to be unnecessarily risky, so we had to make the gut wrenching decision to turn back.

a selfie on a ridge of Mitre Peak

The descent was a lot quicker than the walk up, that may have been because we were carrying less water, perhaps because we were motivated by the thought of a nice big pizza back in Te Anau, or maybe it was because we found the track we were meant to be following on the way up 🤣

After collecting our hidden kayak and quickly re-inflating it, we were off. The paddle back was more challenging due to the winds and rough waters. In spite of this, the Advanced Elements kayak cut through the water like a blade through hot butter. We arrived back at the car and looked back at the peak to see it totally engulfed in cloud reassuring us that we had made the right call.

Until next time Mitre Peak – We will be back!
Cameron Caddaye

A note about the kayak

The kayak pictured here in Cameron's adventure is the Advanced Elements Convertible. This particular model has received major upgrades over time and it now sports an incredibly rigid drop stitch floor which gives it in-water tracking and performance similar to it's hard-shell kayak cousins but without the weight! With the flooring upgrade it also recieved a name upgrade going from the "Convertible" to the "Convertible Elite". 

The Convertible Elite is one of our most popular inflatable kayaks for a few reasons. Firstly, it has 3 seating positions so it can be used as a 2 person kayak or a solo kayak. Setup time is less than 10 mins and it can carry up to 249kgs including the paddler/s which makes it a popular choice for those looking to do overnight trips like Cameron's.

Features by dot-point

  • Drop-stitch floor construction for incredible rigidity and performance
  • Thick aluminium rib frame on the bow and stern protects from impact but also creates a shape that cuts through water.
  • Multi-layer PVC tarpaulin hull that creates a durable and strong cover. 
  • 2 High-back seats w/ inflatable lumbar support so you can feel comfortable for hours
  • D-ring tie downs
  • Molded low-profile rubber handles
  • Reinforced bow and stern seams
  • Paddle holders
  • Skeg tracking fin built in 
  • 6 air chambers
  • Deck lacing for quick access to gear
  • Durable double-coated rip-stop fabric
  • Backed by Advanced Elements 3 Year Warranty

If this article has you inspired about getting adventurous in the land of the long white cloud, find out more on the New Zealand Tourism page dedicated to Hiking and Walking

On the other hand, if you would like to find out more about the Convertible Elite Inflatable Kayak, there is an in-depth setup and walkthrough video on our product page. Feel free to browse any of the other kayaks listed on the site and feel free to reach out via the contact us page if you have any questions at all.

Lee @ Kayaks For Fishing.  

Next article 2024 Beginners Guide: 7 Tips to Combine Your Kayak and Fishing

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