Hot pie awaits hero kayaker

By Lydia Anderson

Scott Donaldson.
Scott Donaldson.

Transtasman kayaker Scott Donaldson's family is on standby as he completes his arduous three-month solo journey.

The New Plymouth community is preparing a beachfront welcome, but will wait for confirmation before setting up a marquee.

The kayaker had hoped to make landfall last night but strong winds off the Taranaki coastline delayed his arrival - and MetService say winds are not expected to let up any time soon.

Mr Donaldson, 34, departed from Coffs Harbour in Sydney on April 19, intending to paddle more than 2000km. If successful, he will be the first person to kayak solo across the Tasman Sea.

Helicopter pilot John Funnell, who has made three supply drops to Mr Donaldson, said it was now looking likely he would arrive tonight or tomorrow morning at the earliest.

Mr Funnell made a supply drop to Mr Donaldson yesterday, taking him water, food, a copy of the Herald on Sunday, portable radio, and batteries for his radios and bilge pump.

"Conditions were good out there and he was about 40 [nautical] miles from New Plymouth airport," Mr Funnell said.

"He's still about 30 hours away ... we couldn't talk to him because he's lost all his battery power."

He said Mr Donaldson appeared to be in good spirits.

MetService forecaster Philippa Murdoch said 25 knot south-easterly winds were expected off the Taranaki coast last night and the area was experiencing 3m swells.

Winds would change to north-easterly today and strengthen to 35 knots tomorrow.

Mr Donaldson's wife, Sarah, in New Plymouth, was not fazed by the latest delay and said different arrival times were "being bandied around all over the show".

"I'd obviously like him in sooner rather than later."

She would assess how much rest and recuperation he needed after he arrived, she said.

"I mean he's not going to be able to walk properly for a while."

A batch of homemade bacon and egg pie was planned for the homecoming hero - but only if he was able to eat properly, she said.

Ms Donaldson was looking forward to the long overdue catch-up and said the couple's 4-year-old son, Zac, had been missing his father.

"It's been difficult on all levels."

- APNZ

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