Tired but elated: Bruce Telford completes his circumnavigation of Lake Wakatipu this week


A kayaker who once almost drowned in Lake Wakatipu has just paddled 206km to circumnavigate it.

Queenstowner Bruce Telford, 57, arrived back at his Frankton Arm put-in point last Monday, after completing the challenge in eight legs over about a month.

Most paddles lasted about six hours though a stretch from near Walter Peak to Kingston took nine hours.

‘‘At times, long hard paddles with a head wind were demoralising while being wet and cold, yet it was truly epic at times,’’ he says.

‘‘I saw some amazing scenery, wild deer and goats, but no fish.’’

Telford slept in a tent at Mt Nicholas and near Walter Peak, but otherwise broke the trip up.

He says he tackled the circumnavigation because ‘‘I’ve just always loved nature, and this is something I wanted to do’’.

He had a very different experience when he was about 23.

Paddling back from Cecil Peak to Frankton, the wind and waves came up and filled up his kayak, which he’d borrowed from a mate, with water.

Having ‘‘stupidly’’ not worn a lifejacket, he got an inflatable tyre tube out of the kayak just before it disappeared under water, and swam for it.

He says he passed out at some stage but somehow still managed to make it to shore, between Jack’s Point and Kelvin Peninsula.

‘‘I was very cold but alive.’’

For his latest venture, Telford not only wore a life jacket but had an emergency locator beacon, VHF radio and cellphone for safety and communication.