Today was the first time I properly lost my cool. A southerly was blowing and conditions were looking pretty good. The waves weren’t very big but they where quite dumpy and breaking in the same spot every time. I’ve surfed most of my life and didn’t really see these small waves as an obstacle. If I was on my surfboard it literally would have been a few paddle strokes and a couple quick duck dives and I would have been out the back. However, I wasn’t on my surfboard, I was on a 17ft SUP. It was a very grey day so I was keen to at least my top half dry. It didn’t take long for that to go out the window. I tried to time it right however every time I was almost out the back a wave would pop up and knock me back. I kept falling off, and generally getting rolled around. I kept at it for about 20min and would get so close, but not quite there. I fell off one more time and hit my neather region on the board. Fuming that these little waves were getting the better of me I turned around to come back into the beach to reassess. I then noticed that my VHF radio had been ripped out of my bag. That was the last straw. F#@k! I stormed up the beach and barked at Dad to get the spare VHF. While he was going up to the van I remembered that VHF floats. We searched the surf for 10 minutes and luckily found it. We walked up the along the beach slightly to try and get out at a different spot. Round 2. After battling away for about 10min I finally made it out. Once I was under way the going was pretty good despite the odd down pour every 40min or so. I pulled in 40km up the coast pretty glad that the day was over.
I had a chat with Ngati Porou Radio in the morning then hit the water. The wind was still from the south so I was going along at a good pace. The southerly swell had slowly been building and as I got further towards the Cape it was getting bigger and bigger. I made it to the landing point but the swell was really getting in there. After yesterday’s experience I was pretty keen to stay well clear of waves. I searched the beach for a while and managed to find a rocky outcrop. The northern side of the rocks was a bit sheltered from the southerly swell and I managed to sneak in there in between sets. We needed reception so went into Ruatoria where the Ngati Porou Radio station was. The hosts were super friendly and invited us back to their place for diner and to stay the night. We already felt that this was a particularly special part of the country and after hearing about the history of the area we felt this even more so. Their people have lived in the area for hundreds of years so I can only imagine just how strongly the feel about protecting their beautiful land and waters.
I snuck back out through the surf and headed in the only direction I knew, north. I didn’t have far to go until the next landing spot and wind was forecast to pick up later in the day so I wasn’t mucking around. The next landing spot was a long, exposed beach with a river mouth in the middle. The surf was really getting in there. I paddled as close to the beach as I could without being taken out by a wave so I could try and look for a good place to land. It was all looking pretty bad. I got to the river mouth and it appeared that the surf wasn’t getting in there quite as much so I decided to give it a go. A set passed and I paddled in as quickly as I could. I caught a medium sized wave but it jacked up quickly and the board nose-dived. My inflatable life jacked got ripped open and was handing around my waist making it quite hard to swim to grab the board. I clambered back on the board and caught some white wash towards the beach. The white wash hit the water coming out of the river and I nose-dived again. There had been a fair amount of rain over the last few days so the river was really flowing. The river was pushing me out but the waves were pushing me in. I was suck in no mans land. I got rolled around a few more times before I managed to get on the board and line it up so I could catch the white wash in. I got ashore feeling like a bit of a drown rat.
Day 29 (THE LAST DAY!)
Today was the last day! I was super excited but also a little bit nervous after yesterday’s beating, knowing that I had to try and get out at the same spot. We got to the beach and I rushed down to check the surf. It was hardly light but I could make out that the surf had dropped off a lot and it was looking pretty easy to get out. You beauty! I hit the water with a massive grin on my face. I had been waiting for this day for so long and it was finally here. As a paddled towards the cape I thought about all of the amazing places I had paddled past and all the great people we met along the way. Every person we had met whether they had lived there their whole life, or only been there a handful of times, were very supportive of the cause. They felt that the sea and coastline was absolutely priceless therefore anything that would put it at risk would never be worth it. It was great to hear that they felt the same as me. I rounded the Cape and my grin got even bigger. I could see the landing party on the beach and heard Paora from Ngati Porou Radio blow his war trumpet. It was actually happening, I was about it finish. I surfed a little wave in and was met by my beautiful girlfriend who’s grin was as big as mine. “You made it!” It was hard to believe, but yep, I had made it.