I have no clue how to get you lovely readers excited about my story. I am no writer. I am no photographer. My story doesn’t involve any drama, any unusual encounters, or any world record. My story is purely about the stoke of a surf mission that’s gone beyond perfection, so much so that we thought it had to be recorded somewhere.
Pete & I decided to surf NZ again. We both love that country and both love surfing new waves. It was Queen’s birthday long weekend (we love the queen), off we went.
Pete is an architect, which you would assume means someone softly spoken, well-behaved, passionate. That is exactly the truth, unless when surf is involved, and that’s 90% of the time. When it comes to surf, he cannot stop yapping, he froths, and he has a severe lack of compassion for people who cannot get excited at the sight of even a one foot wave. He once surfed 13h in one day. Enough said….actually he did refuse to surf 25ft Waimea bay, so he can be a bit of a chicken.
I am on the other hand pretty normal!I do have a bit of ADHD in me, but generally 2 surfs a day is enough for me, and putting on a wet wetsuit in winter bothers me a little bit sometimes.
Pete arrived at Auckland airport, from Melbourne at 9pm Friday night. Having worked there that day I was waiting patiently, checking the surf reports, realising that there was no swell, and onshore winds everywhere, except for in Gisborne. 7h south east. Off we went, to the tune of our crackling portable speaker. At 2am we come around a bend in the gorge leading to Matawai and we are forced to improvise a bit of a slalom to avoid rocks that are covering the road. A rockfall happened minutes earlier. Somehow we didn’t hit any, but to maintain our good karma, we decide to clear the road, pushing the rocks aside as best as we can. A few kilometers later we are about to run out of petrol when we find a petrol station, it is closed. We decide to sleep a few hours in the car until it opens. As day breaks, we fill up (it was actually a 24/7 one!) hit the road and reach Gisborne.
Surfing is pretty fickle; it relies on the right winds, swell, tides, sand banks, and even crowds. In other words, there are only great waves when you are in luck, so tempting your luck on a 4h flight from home, 7h drive and with a 2 day window, its ambitious.
Gisborne has a great vibe and literally every kiwi we meet wants to have a chat. In minutes we realise that the place to be at that specific time is Point Makariri. Surf number 1. We surf that right point break all morning until low tide, at which point the real mission starts. We must head to the
Island according to a fellow surfer! The island is 2km offshore, and offers a world-class, hollow left. The description from our little NZ surf book: The inside section consists of a hyper-speed left-hand barrel which breaks along the side of the island over shallow reef. Expect long hollow grinding barrels. After a 30min break we paddle across with major excitement. For what we can see from the mainland, it is pumping. 36min of paddling later, we can confirm. It is pumping. Surf number 2. We share waves with 2 guys who drove 8 hours for it, and a couple of locals who couldn’t be friendlier. As usual, Pete sits way out, waiting for the bombs and I am the seagull picking up the scraps on the inside, and the bombs too, on my head. I lose my Gopro. No worries, it was a distraction. We surf til dark, paddle back (a mission), meet a Slovenian girl near our car who tells us about some party in town. Find some accommodation where the lovely old Motel lady is obsessed with giving us some surf tips. Have a 1h nap. Go to the party. Make new besties with waitresses, party goers, random cuzzies and bros.
We wake up to perfect sunshine, when the rest of New Zealand is under record level of precipitation. The little old motel lady has a tip: go to Mahia peninsula, it is more exposed to that South east swell. Ok! We first go to Wainui, as it is meant to be the kiwi version of Hossegor. That little book says: “expect sucky takeoffs and fast, pitching barrels”. We can confirm it is. Both our first waves were perfect little hollow tubes, fast. And it continued the whole morning. I didn’t make many, it was heavy, it was perfect once again. That was surf 3, and we didn’t even have to share with anyone. We now need to rush to Mahia peninsula for surf number 4 at Point Annihilation, no time for lunch (truth is there was time but it involved an annoying detour). It is an hour away. We get there and as you guessed, if you are still reading this long story, it is firing! Again the book said: “Be ready for a heavy takeoff followed by a fast section and a big bowl”. It is also picturesque beyond belief. I tell Pete that it reminds me of Peru. He tells me that it reminds him of Morocco…try to imagine! One guy comes in with a snapped board, has a bong and goes back out with a new board. Why not!? We paddle out puffed out from the excitement! It is absolutely firing, 8ft on the sets, 5 waves in the sets and 7 guys out…so not much sitting around, which is great because it is cold. Pete catches a Shippstern looking wave. I must admit I didn’t see it. I was getting annihilated along the rocks, feeling ashamed, while he was being acclaimed! This wave breaks fairly heavily along round rocks that sit at the bottom of a steep hill, on the entrance a of a perfectly oval bay facing straight south, and getting the full force of the south swell. A dream. It peals for 300m and occasionally produces nice, no-so-little, tubes! We really can’t believe our luck but we are close to exhaustion. It is now dark and tomorrow we must be in Auckland at 4:30pm for a work meeting, almost 8h away! We pack up, have a yarn with the friendly bunch who we shared waves with. We ask a local how long the is drive to Auckland. “You Aussies!!!! I don’t know, no one does it”. We jump in the car and proceed to start driving back tonight. After 500m Pete suggests a pause. Do we really need to leave tonight? Ok, he makes a good point: if we sleep here, get in the water at 6:30am, surf until 8:30am, drive all day. It is feasible. The only rule is that we need to surf a different break. It has worked magnificently for us for 2 days so it is a rule. The local had told me earlier that the banks at “Blacks” were the best they have been in 10 years. Seriously?! The kiwi luck! We find a room to stay in the small town at the end of the bay. We ask the motel manager how long the drive is Auckland, ” I don’t know, I would usually fly”. Pete is asleep at 7:22pm, snoring. He hasn’t realised that they forgot to clean our room since the last guests. My bed has not even been changed but we are happy not to sleep in the car. It is 2 degrees outside! Wake up, surf number 5 in 48h. It is dark, but it is pumping. I need some more vocabulary to explain how good the surf is. It is pumping! We surf at the Bali-looking beach break and just laugh at our luck; it is wave after wave. Our arms are dragging in the water from exhaustion. The sun takes forever to rise and it feels like we have surfed all day already! At 8:30 we pack the car, overlooking that spot, watching the only local that eventually arrived. It feels like we are on the other side of the world. The long drive back is a race against the clock. Every 30min one of us says: “seriously, it was ridiiiiiiculous!” At the airport Pete has a weak moment: “Cuz, we have overdone it…even my heart hurts!” Now I am on the plane and I am wondering how to express my excitement, our luck, the variety of perfect waves, in 3 days.