It is 9am. Jess’ dad decides the swells should be perfect for surfing. He is tanned, in shape, with warm eyes, a healthy face, and a baseball cap with a light ponytail sticking out from under it.
Kiwi tradition dictates lots of time spent in, on, or around the water, and he fits the bill. We pack into the car, windows littered with surfing stickers, and head off.
The area is all windy roads hugged by impenetratable greenery – bush, palms, grass that goes up into the hills with the occasional toi-toi feather duster clumps of grass adding a light touch.
We arrive at Te Arai.
1. Climb the dune to watch how the waves break
Te Arai is a surf beach, and I follow Jess up the dune to where her dad is watching the waves break. My first New Zealand sand is just off-white and almost powdery fine between my toes. Heaven. There’s maybe 30 people in sight.
But the swell’s not breaking right.
We move on to Forestry, another beach just behind the bay cliff to the south. We climb the dune to watch how the waves break. There’s even less people here but is is decided that the surf is better. We’re staying.
2. Explore & Enjoy
We set up chairs and blankets and head in our separate directions.
Jess’s dad goes off to find surf. On any given day, depending on the water, Kiwis will surf, kayak, paddleboard – anything to get out on the water.
We ladies walk far along the beach and beachcomb the sand for seashells while waching oystercatchers with their long red beaks tap away at the shells.
We sit, chat, and eat corned beef sandwiches, snacking inbetween with some carrots and chips.
It is warm in the sun but the moment that wind blows I zip up and feel ridiculous. We flip through magazines and make conversation with friends that stop by.
I can feel the heat of the sun of my face, the slight wind cooling my cheeks. There’s really no sound other than the waves lappping on the shore and breaking, and sometimes they crack so hard I look up expecting to see a broken surfboard.