Auckland Sea Kayaks is pleased to welcome Tom Groothuizen to our guiding team for this summer. Tom is no stranger to adventure in the outdoors, and recently returned to NZ after walking across Mongolia with two horses for fun. We asked Tom a few questions so you can get to know him:
Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from, and how did you get into kayaking?
I’m 25 from Dutch ancestry and was born in Auckland. Growing up all I did was play outside and build model sailing boats. I also spent a lot of time out on the Hauraki Gulf fishing and sailing in the small family dinghy that my father built. This inspired my love for the ocean and it kinda just evolved from there.
You’ve joined the team after kayaking and biking your way around the world. Can you tell us a little more about this trip – especially the kayaking component?
I spent some time kayaking as a kid but the first REAL expedition in a kayak was when I was 19. I decided on a whim to kayak down the Danube, which is Europe’s second longest river. The Danube flows through 10 countries – of which I did 8, and it took me three months starting in Southern Germany and ending at the Black Sea.
I also spent a week paddling along the coast of Western Norway in a skin-on-frame kayak which I built in my apartment in Sweden.
How did you prepare for the Danube? What kit did you use?
I spent a LOT of time researching for the trip as it’s super important to understand the conditions you will be facing – water temperature, air temperature, average wind speed and wind direction. I didn’t spend any time physically training, which didn’t faze me although I would not recommend.
Were there any parts of it you would or wouldn’t do again?
It was super cold when I started the Danube trip as I left in early spring. Lots of snowmelt and some nights of minus 15. Choosing the right season definitely makes expeditions easier, but sometimes you just don’t have a choice.
What’s your favorite part of being out on the water?
Mostly I just like being outside and moving. Kayaking is a great way to do that. Of course it’s always exciting to leave the norm of dry land and have a change of environment too.
And finally, what’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who is new to paddling?
Have fun. And if you’re not sure about things, do your research. Read books, Google questions, join a club, take lessons. In the end it’s all about having fun so don’t stress.