New Zealand had been on my bucket list for some time now… so when my wife Ashley got an email from Scott’s Cheap flights advertising a $700 round trip flight to Auckland, we freaked! We ALMOST booked it immediately… but decided to sleep on it. The next day I went surfing with my best buddy Alex. By what seemed like fate, he brought up going to New Zealand together. We took this as a sign and booked it!!! 12 days in NZ was only 2 months away… we began to plot logistics and pray for surf!
First stop Degree 33 for a new Weapon shortboard
12 hour red eyes are the worst. But the flight had a solid selection of surf movies… so we mostly stayed up and got psyched watching Momentum Generation and Proximity. We landed in Auckland on a Friday morning, snagged our rental car, and booked it to the coast. Out first stop was the Coromandel region. This leg of the trip was meant to be tropical snorkeling and sightseeing with our wives… but a last minute rare cyclone developed and the forecast was calling for bombing swell… so plans changed from tourist tours to wave hunting. Good thing my wife Ashley and Alex’s wife Kara were down to drop everything for us to score waves… shout out to Ashley and Kara!!!!!!!
As the cyclone arrived, we headed north to Otama, a typically flat beach break rumored to fire on a big cyclone. We showed up to SUPER heavy beach break barrels… but too heavy. As the tide pushed, Otama became a shorebreak. I didn't want to snap my brand new Degree 33 Weapon… or my neck… so we resorted to whomping shorebreak. I got a few much needed chiropractic adjustments.
Showing up at Otama
Even though the whomp was all time, we were itching to score still. So we headed south to meet up with Logan, Alex’s buddy from Christian Surfers and a NZ local. Logan and his crew showed us around Mount Maunganui. The next day, we packed up two cars with a squadron of local groms and headed to “Hawai”, pronounced “HA-WHY”... not to be confused. But even by the name we were hopeful. Like Otama, Hawai is a fickle noveltly wave rumored to be a perfect right point on the right cyclone swell. The crew had just tried to score it a few months back and just missed it. So they had a seeming vendetta out to score it. We trekked two hours south to get there. Upon arriving, Hawai was barely breaking. SHOOTS. Looking fun enough, we paddled out. I took out a 5’6” Keelfather Fish that I’d never even ridden before… but the homies at Degree 33 hooked it up for the trip. I paddled out with zero expectations. Within minutes, the wave of the day came right too me. The fish went like a dream. The wave peeled down the point and got 4-5 super fun carves in. I’ve been riding fishes my whole life and that was probably one of the funnest waves I’ve ever had on a fish!!!! The rest of the session kinda shut down and I didnt get another wave like that… one was enough. Stoked. Shout out to Logan (@shaka.brah) , Carmen and crew for showing us around!
After Hawai we headed west for Taranaki. On the way across the Island, we stopped for a 12 mile hike to Mordor from Lord of The Rings… at the top of the mountain a BRUTAL and unexpected storm arrived and we got so so so worked. It was actually pretty scary and life threatening… after the hike we all decided to stick to surfing instead of hiking. It was a good call.
Thanks to another good friend from Christian Surfers, in Taranaki we got hooked up with a place to stay right on the water with 3 left breaks out front to choose from. Shout out to Nev and Rusty… Legends.
Finding some quality surf at Taranaki Reef
Over the next three days we surfed our brains out. In full grom mode, Alex and I surfed 3 times a day. Waves were head high and super ripable and fun all over. My 5’9” Weapon went epic. I switch it up to quad which was a game changer for the lined-up, overhead Taranaki reef breaks.
Here is me at Stent Road, a bowly/punchy sling-shot-of- wave.
The last leg of the trip was Raglan. Surf prayers answered, Raglan was 6ft and pumping when we arrived. Raglan is one of those waves that every surfer dreams of.
I managed to sneak into a little tube at the inside section of Indicators:
Another fun one. The Weapon worked so good in the pocket!
Over the next 2 days we surfed out brains out at Raglan. By the last day, I could barrely paddle.
New Zealand was the trip of a lifetime! Stoked and grateful, we headed back home to SD. YEW!
Written by Richard Mattingley for Degree 33
Photos courtesy of @karareynoldsphoto