German sea kayaker Freya Hoffmeister became the first woman to successfully circumnavigate New Zealand’s South Island.
This 2386 km trip is recognized as one of the most beautiful, yet committing and challenging paddles worldwide.
Freya set a new solo record completing the trip in 70 days overall, with only 47 paddling days averaging 50 km per day.
She paddled solo and unsupported, carrying all her camping equipment and food in the kayak, re-supplying along the way on the few longer stops.
On October 25th 2007, Freya launched at Okiwi Bay in the North, paddling clockwise, and completed the circumnavigation on January 2nd 2008.
“Huge seas and swells, relentless roaring surf on the West Coast, the remote Fjordlands with no road access for more than 500 km and few sheltered landing spots are some of the reasons why only three men have succeeded in the past 30 years” says Freya.
The unforgivable Tasman Sea took a toll on Freya and her equipment, breaking the stern off her kayak and swallowing her favorite paddle.
But the beautiful scenery, together with plenty of seals and dolphins on mostly remote coastlines made up for any efforts and inconvenience, like dealing with bloodsucking sand flies at camp.
A last highlight was set on the final leg, paddling continuously for 165 km in 32.5 hrs.
Freya’s past kayaking expeditions include the record setting circumnavigation of Iceland in only 33 days in 2007.
She is invited to symposiums worldwide to teach and lecture about her kayaking experiences.
Freya is a 43 year-old ex-gymnast, multi-sport woman and experienced skydiver.
She lives in Husum with her 12 year old son when not traveling, running two ice cream cafes and a Christmas shop in winter.