Surfing in Raglan
It was a left-hand break, which was unusual. The rolling waves were lapping at the sandy shore, and looked different from waves I had seen elsewhere in the world. I thought it looked like the perfect place to go surfing. So did about a hundred other people.
I was in a little town in the North Island of New Zealand called Raglan, at a wide sweeping beach called Whale Bay. It is one of the most popular places in the country for surfers, and various world competitions are held there every year.
I had my friend Mike with me, and he was determined to give surfing a go. I told him I wasn't much of a teacher, and perhaps he should give one of the local surf schools a go. But he wasn't keen, and said he preferred just to watch me and copy my technique. I didn't really think that was a good idea, as my technique usually consisted of a lot of falling off and spitting out of sea water. And swearing. Mike said he was already good at the swearing, so the rest should come naturally as well.
Raglan lies on the west coast, and was sunny and warm, with friendly and welcoming inhabitants. Large trees shaded the main street, creating an idylic location for the consumption of ice cream. The nearby beaches of Te Kopua and Te Aro Aro Bay are excellent for swimming, but it is Whale Bay that attracts the surfers.
There is a narrow road that leads along the coast past Whale Bay called Whaanga Road, and we took a drive along it the evening before our surfing adventure. From the roadside we watched the sun sinking into the Tasman Sea, and a few clouds in the distance looked like steam as the firey ball touched the cold ocean. Also nearby, we visited the Bridal Veil Falls, found on an easy ten minute walk from the road to Kawhia. The 55 metre plume of water fell gracefully into the crystal clear water, and we couldn't resist a plunge into the peaceful pool.
But the surfing really is the great thing about Raglan, and true to form, I swallowed a lot of sea water and invented some great new swear words.
Mike didn't even get wet, preferring to sit on the beach and talk to girls.