Kia Ora! Easter this year meant spending time over the ‘ditch’ in New Zealand. I can now say after spending a measly five nights and four days in Kiwi-land: I bloody love New Zealand.
*Segue Alert* It’s been an exciting few weeks and I’m thrilled to share my freshly published article for 1million women which went live last week. Yah! This was all kinds of cool sharing the benefits of slow tourism and the part it plays on our planet. You can read it here. What’s more, my published article was the pinnacle in defining what this blog is about: Slow Travel. Slow travel is the opposite of fluttering from place to place, from rushing, from seeing as many sites as possible. It’s about slowing down within our frantic lives and just being. I plan on sharing as many ideas and tips about slow travel with ya’ll. Give it a go!
Alas, I digress! Back to the subject at hand: New Zealand. Having just four days in the north island, Moo and our friend Isaac decided to scrap the hiking boots (the weather was just too lovely) and instead explore the west coast by surfing our Easter break away.
Having not spent all that much time in New Zealand I had little expectations, to be honest I had low expectations, assuming the weather would turn. It would inevitably rain and the surf would be likely be monstrous. When in reality it was the opposite.
Preferring not to spend the whole time in the car, we opted to see only Raglan and Piha. The most renowned surfing spots in the biz. Having seen a little more of NZ I can vouch there is simply something for everyone in Kiwi land – honestly the place is utterly stunning on every turn. Read on for my top 5 surfing spots in Auckland, N.Z:
Raglan (Ngarunui Beach and Manu Bay)
The most famous of the lot, this break boasts the longest, most consistent and most accessible left in the southern hemisphere (quite the accolade). Looking at photo’s compared to our conditions, it fell a little short. It meant we surfed at both locations, feeling they were different breaks when in reality they aught to be one. If you’re passing through, stopping in Raglan is a must! This bustling surf town has a plethora of coffee options, tasty food (try The Shack) & chilled bars perfect for that afternoon aperitif. I even got the chance to meet up with a long lost pal, Carola also visiting from the U.K – what are the chances eh?
This was my favourite from the list with the conditions we had. The backdrop was jaw dropping-ly beautiful, there were just four of us surfers out and the sheer beauty of the landscape was as if an artist had composed it just this morning, a freshly painted canvas of vibrant emerald, fluorescent myrtle and fiercely black sand. At one point I felt a certain sense of frisson looking back to shore, the only surfer out, one hundred meters from shore. Simply breathtaking.
We neglected to climb Lion Rock, despite it’s dangerously (alluring) rugged trail. However, if it’s ocean views you’re after, climbing Lion Rock will leave you facing Piha’s real estate. You’re better off hiking: The Mercer Loop Track (just two or three kilometers in length) or parts of the Hillary Trail in order to take in Piha and it’s surrounds from higher heights. I was amazed at how bustling the town was and how one teeny general store and one cafe were able to sustain the masses within the caravan park, a striking resemblance of a pen of hungry sheep, bursting at the seams. It felt a little congested to be honest.
The swells were a howling on our final day so we opted for short walks, reading our books and day dreaming. From what we could gather, Bethells packs a punch with some sneaky sections to the right of the river mouth. We had hoped to hike the Goldie Bush trail boasting waterfall views, rock hopping and a daring pool to dive into – but unfortunately it was closed to prevent ‘Kauri dieback’ disease. Definitely put it on the list!
Despite our best efforts to surf every day and while we did paddle out at Muriwai, it was a complete white wash. Not wanting to remain dry we paddled out and aimed to perfect our foamy pop ups. We walked the headland and watched the sea birds for longer than I care to admit before driving back to Auckland. Not without stopping at the Hallertau Brewery & Biergarten to break up the hour drive. We just had to.
Have a great week and travel slow!