Surfing on the Pacific Ocean
Trip Start May 18, 2003
272Trip End Ongoing
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Today started early - Robert was the first one up as he wanted to watch the sunrise before the rest of the world. We were all going to get up to see the sunrise but it didn't look like a very clear day, and as I looked out of the tent I had doubts that we would be able to see anything until the early morning mist cleared up. It was 5am so I went back to sleep for another hour and a half.
By the time our surfing instructor had arrived we were up and ready for our first lesson. Everyone else at the motor camp still seemed to be sound asleep as we quietly walked past the tents, cars and motor homes and headed for the beach.
It was a brisk morning and once we were in our three quarter length wet suits it started to feel a lot colder
Of course, this was quite easy and good preparation for when we would be at the mercy of the Pacific Ocean. A few minutes later and we ventured into the cold water to begin surfing for real.
Jawad's Guide to Surfing:
1) Attach the cord from the board to the ankle of your leg. Choose the ankle that you are going to have at the back of the board when you stand up. After practicing standing up on the beach you will have an idea of which leg you feel most comfortable leading with. Once you have surfed a few times you may want to change your leading leg, remember to swap the cord over if you do. Goofy foot (a surfing term) is having your left leg at the back of the board and leading with your right.
2) Hold the surf board flat and to the side of your body as you wade out into the water. It will float on the water.
3) Be careful not to let the cord get tangled around your legs as you walk out.
4) When the water is deep enough (to your waist), lay on the board and start to paddle out using your arms and shoulders
5) When you are far enough out to catch an approaching wave, turn your board around (by reverse paddling on one side only) and then paddle like crazy to build up some speed.
6) When the surf starts to push you along get up and stand on the board as smoothly and as quickly as possible; if you leave it too late you won't make it.
7) Keep you balance and ride the wave back to the shore.
8) If at any point you fall off your board, remember to protect your face by putting your arm in front of your face and holding the top of you head. When caught in a wave your board can swing around and hit you. I've met surfers with stitches in their faces.
The first couple of waves we caught were just catching "nature's free ride" as Frank (our instructor) put it. This consisted of lying down on the board and getting used to paddling as a wave pushed us along to the shore. I was genuinely surprised at how fast this initial surf was, much faster than it looks from the shore.
It was not long before we had all managed to get to the shore at least once standing up. After our lesson was over Frank kindly left us with the boards so we could continue practicing for the next couple of hours. It was tremendous fun. The feeling of speed was quite thrilling and addictive. I could now understand why people would spend entire weekends just surfing. After a while we were all quite tired, and by the time Frank returned to collect his boards and wet suits we all felt pretty enthusiastic about surfing.
Once back at the motor camp we packed up and headed for the Gisborne Department of Conservation office, to book our huts on the planned hike around Lake Waikaremoana. It was relatively easy to complete the booking, and we opted for a leisurely hike schedule that included an extra day at the lakeside.
After picking up supplies for the hike we were soon on our way, leaving Gisborne behind and heading back inland northwest towards the lake. The drive took us through some fantastic landscapes, almost every turn in the road revealed an idyllic country scene. The roads themselves (until we got to the gravel highway) were a pleasure to drive on. With its minimal traffic on winding country roads New Zealand certainly has some of the best drivers' roads I've experienced
When we arrived at the lake the sun was low and reflecting off the water. I was pleasantly surprised at how big the lake was; now I could understand why it was going to take a few days to hike around it. After parking Pam and checking into the lake motor camp we walked down to the shore. Watching the setting sun sink behind the bluffs that we would be climbing the following day had us all in high spirits and looking forward to the multi-day tramp ahead of us. The only other time I had done something similar to this was last year, when climbing Mount Kinabalu in Borneo. For that trek though we didn't have to carry all of our food and cooking equipment with us, and it was only for two days.
We prepared dinner at the motor camp kitchen, signed the guest book and played a game of Settlers to round off the evening. We started to plan what we needed to take with us, taking into account the necessary food for all meals and snacks on the entire hike. Space in our backpacks would be limited on the trek, so we had to decide on the priority of each item we packed. Fortunately Settlers didn't take up much weight or space...