Massive cyclone swell, I finally got to see the potential of the east coast wave machine, New Zealand

I’ve been without a Vehicle in New Zealand for the past 3 weeks.  This had made surfing difficult as I have had to rely on friends to give me rides to the coast.  Luckily I have made some great friends here that are avid surfers so getting out to the surf only requires a phone call and I can usually find someone super keen for a session.

I took several trips out to Muriwai Beach, which is just north of Piha, and one of the closest beaches to Auckland.  It is on the surf rich west coast, and most days there is swell.  Usually its timing the session with the winds which are fickle and change quite often.  One of the best parts of Muriwai is that you can drive on the beach with a 4×4 and head miles in either direction to find a bank that is working and a peak all to ourselves.

4x4 on Muriwai Beach

4x4 on Muriwai Beach

After several missed east coast swells, frustration and feeling stranded at times, I was finally able to rally a few guys to head up north to the east coast to meet a big swell event.  Over the weekend a good sized tropical cyclone hit the pacific islands and Fiji got rocked with 230 kph winds (142 mph).  This whipped up a massive fetch that sent heavy ground swell in a NWN direction on a collision course with the ragged, point and river bar laden east coast of New Zealand.

On Wednesday a friend, Alex and I drove north 2.5 hours to catch the forerunners of the swell.  We went to Ocean Beach near Whangarei, a spot I have surfed before and a known swell magnet.  The sets where lully, and the tide was low by the time we arrived in mid afternoon.  The beach was closing out a bit, but we decided to paddle out anyway and try our luck at dropping into close-out barrels.

The water was warm, and absolutely crystal clear.  The sun was shinning and bouncing through the barreling waves, making shimmering silver tubes that looked like postcard wave shots.  I dropped into one particularly big set wave and had a chance to pump twice down the wall.  As the wave threw over me, I slide my hand across the vertical barrel wall, seeing through the back of the wave.  The silver tube closed around me and I punched out. The the view that I got in the barrel will be forever seared into my mind.  It is a vision I will take to my grave.

The next day we headed back up north close to Langs Beach, where I did all the fishing earlier in the summer.  Mark’s Family has a bach (vacation house) and we were going to crash there for the night.  We headed to a beach called Te Arai near Mangawhai.  Mangawhai has a famous river bar break that can hold solid swell. Te Arai is a shallow point and we decided to try here as the crowds would be less.

As we pulled up, a massive double over head set rolled in, and the breath was taken out of the car.  The point and beach at Te Ari where completely closed out….but we paddled out anyway.

The waves where massive and not really ride-able except for the occasional smaller sets.

After the surf we stopped in Mangawhai to look at the bar…its was thumping!

Mangawhai Bar Break

Mangawhai Bar Break

Mangawhai Bar Break

Mangawhai Bar Break

Mangawhai Bar Break

Mangawhai Bar Break

Mangawhai Bar Break

Mangawhai Bar Break

Mangawhai Beach Break

Mangawhai Beach Break

Mangawhai Beach

Mangawhai Beach

The next morning we awoke to miniature swell. The east coast is crazy like that.  One night massive, the next morning almost completely flat.  I’m just glad I got to see the East Coast work before I had to leave!

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