The best way to plan a surf mission is not to plan too much at all. With nothing more than annual leave booked and 5 days to find the best surf possible in the North Island the scene was set for a week of good times and good waves. Autumn is a great time for waves in New Zealand with settled sunny weather, a lot of swell hitting both coasts and the water temps still around the late teens.
After an hour of poring over surf and weather reports and intense discussion we decided to hit the beautiful Coromandel peninsula located approximately 2 hours East of Auckland. Bryce had fitted the van out in style for the trip with room for surfboards, chilli bins, sleeping bags and a wetsuit bin.
On arrival at the popular golden sand beach of Tairua we were greeted with overhead, clean waves and headed straight out to wash off the road dust. After some fun waves we headed to the local supermarket and stocked up with healthy food for the next few days.
A big feed tucked away we decided to head for Whangamata and its world famous left hand sand bank to take advantage of the rising swell. It was pumping but unfortunately being the school holidays it was also very crowded. 'The Bar' doesn't break all the time so when it does all the locals stop work and hit it making for a very busy takeoff zone. Although it is a sand bottom Whangamata bar breaks very shallow on the lower tide and is known for producing good barrels and wipeouts! After 2 surfs we decided to set up camp for the night at a local caravan park where we ended up staying for the next 3 days. Each night we would see the day in with a few cold beers, card games and a few tall stories. Whangamata isn't exactly known for its nightlife (outside of the peak summer season) and with everyones bodies tired and sore from 3 surfs a day no one was keen to party too hard.
Over the next few days we would hit other breaks in the area to take advantage of certain tides and winds such as Sailors Grave (so named after the grave of an old sailor from the 1800's found in the bush just above the break), Pauanui and Opito Bay. All of the above are stunningly beautiful spots and truely reflect what most Kiwis think of when they think of the Coromandel, beautiful beaches with epic surf and fishing, rolling hills dotted with native bush and good times with friends and family.
The swell finally died on our last day and fittingly our last surf was back at Tairua where it all began 5 days earlier. With broken bodies from all the paddling, a half hour surf in the crumbling 2 ft waves was all we could manage before packing up the van for the final time, loading up on coffee and sandwiches and heading back to Auckland.
We all agreed it had been an epic trip blessed with good waves, good weather and good times with 3 best mates. This year has already been locked in and it is looking like becoming an annual tradition!
Roll on 2013! If you want some advice of the best places to surf, come and see the staff at Nomads Auckland.