Day 73 – 12 April 2010 Monday
Set off after breakfast to meet up with the surf tour- same guys I went with before- they recognized me as, ‘ah yes the American’. Chris, Molly, Jessica and myself followed the van in our car for many an hour to Ahipara, which is a quiet little beach town just at the bottom of Ninety Mile Beach. The town was so quiet it seemed that there were more dogs than people. We made it just in time to put on some wetsuits, find a board and get some basic lessons in at the beach right in front of the main lodge before it got dark. This beach was SO much easier to surf than Piha and everyone was standing up by the end of the session.
Day 74 – 13 April 2010 Tuesday
Woke up real early and was out on the water by 9. After about 2 hours I felt that I had improved alot but was uber tired. We went back to our lodge to eat breakfast and take naps. Then we set out to go sand boarding. Drove the van over some beach and tidal pool-ish type rocks, around the point to a giant sand covered hill. We hiked up with boogie boards and from the top the slope looked much steeper. I got a good run in by sitting on my bum and using my feet in front of me to brake. Chris tried to stand and wiped out a bunch and Jess and Molly just wiped out in general. We then headed to the east coast to Tokerau beach which was slightly tougher but still offered good beginner waves. It rained a lot but we didn’t mind because we were already quite wet. Eventually it got too dark to see and we had to leave. Ate dinner, played some cards and went to sleep.
Day 75 – 14 April 2010 Wednesday
Set out to another east coast beach – this one was further north than the day before but I can’t remember the name of it. It was a beautiful spot- white sand as fine as flour and vegetated bluffs that reminded Molly and I of a beach in SB. The waves were good-but very shallow and I got very friendly with the sand a couple times. After a bit we ate some lunch and then the group decided to hang around to see if the surf would stay good all day. We took a nap on the grass and played some cricket and Frisbee but as we waited around the surf only worsened. Eventually it was too late to try to find another beach so we head back. We drove back along ninety mile beach. Not just on the road next to it- but literally ON the beach. It was quite funny because in the huge van loaded with people and boards we almost got stuck a couple times. We also learned that ninety mile beach isn’t actually ninety miles long but only 84 km which is just a little over 50 miles. Still probably the longest beach I’ve ever seen. Or driven on. We then headed to a BBQ at the main lodge. Us Californians taught a big group how to play flip cup and we ended up playing for a ridiculously long time. We hung out with the other group of more advanced (and much younger) surfers, had a mini jam sesh with the surf coaches and then walked home before it got too late so that we could be bright-eyed for the next day’s morning session.
Day 76 – 15 April 2010 Thursday
Didn’t end up heading out till 10ish-this time we went to Shipwreck Bay, barely south of Ahipara. By this time in the trip I felt confident enough to catch a green wave- that is a wave before it breaks into white wash and is heaps steeper, scarier and more nose-dive inducing. This was the perfect beach to do this at because the waves would break at the point and curl left hand all the way down the entire beach, so if you did catch one you could ride it for a loong time. The waves kept getting steeper and I got more frustrated. We went back to the lodge for a mini lunch break and then back to the same beach again for an evening surf. This was probably my best session- I caught a couple long waves and apparently at least one of them was green (according to onlookers) even though I couldn’t really tell because I was too busy trying to get over my fear of large waves (the waves weren’t really that big they just seem that way when you are directly under them on a giant piece of plastic). Ended on a good note just as it got dark and headed back to the lodge where we celebrated one of the ‘leaders’ birthdays with homemade pavlova.
Day 77 – 16 April 2010 Friday
For our last surf we headed to Shipwreck bay again- the tide was much higher but the waves were just as scary. Didn’t catch many good ones but was satisfied laying on my board, catching rays and getting jostled around every once and a while and generally just enjoying spending long amounts of time in the ocean. I realized that I had improved so much in just five days- from barely able to stand to being frustrated at not catching enough green waves. Molly and I vowed to keep it up when we get back to SB. Also, the trip overall was heaps of fun- couldn’t think of a better way to spend my ‘spring break’ than on a surfin safari in the warm north.