Photography by Craig “CPL” Levers and Jereme Aubertin.
Just at the right time, Mother Nature made the seasonal change to winter this week. June 1st is the official first day of winter in New Zealand and it was certainly like that, with some pretty miserable weather across the country. We also faced quite a rough hand of surf across the regions. Less than marginal conditions for the eastern side of the North Island and, well, much the same for the west, which is currently battered by strong, disorderly swells and northwesterly winds. You’re all probably seeing a lot of blue color in your bookmarks bar, indicating poor or very poor ratings.
However, there is always a window among the chaos. It may just be a fleeting glimpse of sunlight adding a slightly brighter vibe to an otherwise terrible surf. Or in the case of Piha on Tuesday afternoon, an unexpected NE wind shift combined with a few other very rare elements, creating a local delicacy!
Our correspondent Piha Craig “CPL” Levers picks up the story: “It was the shortest window. This swell direction and clean winds are fleeting rarities. It must be the lowest of the tides and it’s only ever for a few hours above the low. I returned to the beach after running errands in town and thought to myself, is this offshore? It wasn’t quite yet, but it was clearing up quickly.
“Being in the parking lot is kind of a badge of honor. Welcome, welcome my friend, you saw what I saw too eh. All the reasons and justifications disappear, nothing else matters at the moment. The foam levels in the parking lot are staggering. We’re all frantic and determined. If there were any non-surfers present, I’m sure they’d be laughing at the shared amp. Wax the biggest one. plank, get wet and say a silent prayer so you can pass the guillotine.
Then there was the east side the next morning. A stark contrast to Piha, but a bit of shared warmth, a bit of sun and an urge to shred saw Te Kehukehu Butler and his younger cousin Taimana Marupo having fun in some terrible waves. Kehu is absent Australia is competitive and surfing for most of the year so he loves coming home, picking up his young cousin Tai and going to some of the beaches he grew up surfing on all the time as a what big. As Kehu says, “The main beach (Mount Maunganui) is definitely not known for good waves, not even close, but it’s great practice for events on the QS. The light NW winds made fun ramps on the straights in the middle of the beach. The Mount rarely gets good aerial sections, so Tai and I made the most of it this session.