Not even spine-tingling visits from curious sharks stopped Lynn Paterson from fulfilling her dream of paddling 5843km around New Zealand's coast.

The 54-year-old Auckland kayaker was met with a hero's welcome from waiting friends and family when she finished her epic voyage at Takapuna Beach on Auckland's North Shore today.

She had been on the water paddling for 130 days to achieve her circumnavigation.

Paterson, who goes by the nickname Red, said highlights of the journey included being tracked by sharks and dolphins.


"The sealife and the Kiwi hospitality blew me away," she said.

"At one stage I had dolphins following me for three hours, which was spectacular but I was a bit wary of some of the sharks who popped up to say hello, especially along the East Coast.

"Fortunately I didn't see any great whites and I didn't get into any trouble."

Paterson paddled 40km from Martins Bay to Takapuna to finish the solo trip.

"I was up early this morning and it was a short paddle day for me. I am now going to the Coromandel for a few days to rest, celebrate the New Year and process what I have just done."

Lynn Paterson arrives at Takapuna Beach after completing a circumnavigation of New Zealand in her kayak. Photo / Chris Loufte
Lynn Paterson arrives at Takapuna Beach after completing a circumnavigation of New Zealand in her kayak. Photo / Chris Loufte

Earlier in the week as she paddled to the base of the cliffs at Cape Reinga, she could hear a cheer from tourists gathered at the top.

The cape was shrouded in mist with the tip of the lighthouse appearing above.

"It was pretty emotional sitting there in the calm of the slack tide."

She celebrated with bubbles at Spirits Bay but battled clouds of mosquitoes.

Sitting on the beach at Taiharuru, north of Whangarei Harbour entrance on Wednesday, after paddling for nine hours from Bland Bay, she had a smile on her face.

Her determination has got her through some sticky times on the ocean and hours of paddling.

"You have to respect the ocean. She gives you a lesson, then she chews you up and spits you out."

It was in Northland she completed her longest day paddling - 85.2km from Houhora Heads to Matauri Bay. On average, she paddled 12 hours a day.

One of the toughest days was passing through the Bay of Islands this week when boaties filled the waters.

"I got to the Bay of Islands and looked to try and cross from Purerua Peninsula to Urupukapuka but, holy heck, I now know what a possum must feel like when trying to cross the motorway. There were boats going in every direction, each at a very rapid pace."

Gannets, fish jumping and cute blue penguins, shags and also the dainty little birds that seemed to walk on water, kept her entertained along Northland's coast.

Paterson decided to make her dream happen and in October 2015 she took to the ocean in a kayak to circumnavigate New Zealand's coastline.

It was a dream she had harboured for some 15 years but a family member with depression was the catalyst. She is raising cash for the Mental Health Foundation from her trip.

"What I experienced and witnessed was the bigger picture of the damage depression can cause. It's not just the individuals who suffer, but also the family members who support, love and care so much."

She also wants to inspire and encourage people to set themselves goals. She was supported on the land by her crew of partner Jason Marshall and head of logistics German Bianca Hoefer.

To read more about her amazing trip click here.