Behind the Trip... New Zealand Mothership Trips Pt. 2
Written By: Joseph Martinez
Date: March 18, 2020
Eight (8) days on a boat with nine (9) other kayak anglers in one of the most untouched remote fishing grounds on this planet. Previously my longest mothership trip was a short three (3) day trip to the San Clemente Islands, which are about 70 miles offshore from San Diego. So I embarked on this journey with a nervous excitement.
I will be honest prior to my trip I knew very little about New Zealand, and even less of their fishing grounds. Luckily, I was with Aaron Covacich, Captain of the Bounty Hunter. Captain Aaron is one of the best Captains in New Zealand waters, and he is experienced in serving the unique needs of kayak anglers on a mothership trip. Throughout my 8 day journey I was repeatedly impressed by how well Captain Aaron knew the fishing grounds around the Great Barrier Islands. The waters around the Great Barrier Islands is what they call "Big Water," so you would not want to do this with a novice captain. Captain Aaron not only knew how to expertly navigate these waters, but he put us on to some of the best fishing I have ever seen.
Some of you may thinking 8 days of straight kayak fishing might be too much for you, but the days on the Bounty Hunter passed quicker than I hoped. Also the great thing about mothership trips is the flexibility you have with your day. You can easily come back to the boat anytime for a hot shower and a nap, or even an afternoon of boat fishing. Captain Aaron went above and beyond each day make sure we were well fed and equipped for our day. We were treated to daily Kingfish sashimi, and there was always a hot cup of coffee or tea waiting for you when you came back from your day of kayak fishing.
A few lessons learned on the trip...
First thing you need to know before visiting New Zealand is the fact that they are fiercely protective of their ecosystem, so their customs is very strict in what they allow into the country. Plants, seeds, teas, most types of food products are usually not allowed. Even dirty camping equipment or muddy hiking boots may be subject to quarantine. Also, if you forget to declare any of these items you could be subject to a $400 NZD fine, so do yourself a favor and do a little research online to be sure you are aware of all current restrictions.
Fishing equipment can be subject to quarantine if it looks dirty or used, luckily this is only applicable to fresh water fishing equipment. So be sure when going through customs you make it clear that your fishing gear is for saltwater fishing only.
Lastly, make sure you apply for a NZeTa (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) at least 72 hours prior to your arrival. A travel Visa is not required for U.S. citizens, but they do require you to apply for entry prior to your arrival. This can be done online or through a mobile application for a cost of $35 NZD. You can find more information at the following url: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/about-visa/nzeta
I know we always talk about the "bucket-list" trip, but this truly qualifies for that title. The fishing, the people and pure beauty of New Zealand will leave you with life long memories. As we discussed the New Zealand people go through great lengths to protect the purity of their land. Most of the smaller islands are off limits to humans in an effort to protect its prehistoric ecosystem. In fact some people refer to these islands as the real jurassic park. This amazing ecosystem of plant and animal life has remained untouched for literally thousands of years. During my days of fishing I was constantly amazing at the beauty of the landscapes and marine life, but the most amazing sight of the whole trip was the night sky. These remote islands are free from any light pollution allowing you see thousands of stars each night. For the first time in my life I was able to see the Milky Way with my naked eye. This along was worth the price of admission of this trip.
In my next blog posting I will walk you through my first few days at sea as we head out to our final destination the Mokohinau Islands, a tract of some of the most remote fishing grounds in the Southern Hemisphere.