65 Days on the Road
We are stoked! After a bit of last-minute planning last night, we have organised to go to Foxton Beach to learn how to kite landboard this morning. With a northwesterly wind of 13 knots and low tide around 10am, these are perfect conditions to break into kite sports – something we have never done before. Man, we can’t wait!
Onward to Foxton Beach!
Foxton Beach is only a 30-minute drive from Palmerston North city centre, and is the base of Wind Warrior, the only company in the lower North Island providing kite sports. They do everything kite sports, from kite surfing to kite buggying. They even have some stand-up paddle boards for when the wind is feeling not so warrior-like. We pull up to the Wind Warrior base and before we meet our instructor for the day, we are enthusiastically welcomed by a Staffordshire bull terrier dog who just walks on our feet, rolls over and expects a belly rub. We’re happy to say this is not the first time we have been greeted like this in New Zealand.
The dog, Snoop Dogg, introduces us to our instructor for the day, Glen. (Ok, that’s not exactly how it happened but we like to think it did). Glen is going to teach us how to kite landboard!
After a quick nosy around all the awesome kite sports gear in the rental shop (and the shop-shop because you can buy some gear after you’ve mastered the lesson), we sit down for a quick safety run-through and some theory of kite sports. Now, we hop in the 4×4 Jeep, joined by Snoop Dogg, and we head to Foxton Beach.
Snoop Dogg and seal pup
Snoop Dogg is making gradual noises of excitement the closer we get to the beach – at first it’s heavy breathing through the nostrils, then it is a squeal without opening his mouth, then, the dog is literally squealing when the tyres hit the sand. This is too much to bear. Glen opens the door for Snoop Dogg to hop out and start chasing us down the beach. Unfortunately, he made the classic mistake of not pacing himself, so Glen stops the Jeep and lets Snoop Dogg back in the for the rest of the journey. (Since when did this blog post become all about Snoop Dogg?)
Speaking of animals, Glen spots a seal pup bouncing its way around the beach. Oh my God we are having an animal cuteness overload today. Anyway, where were we? Kite landboarding!
A lesson in flying kites
Glen sets up an area on this 20km long beach for the kite lesson. First thing’s first, we need to learn how to fly a kite. Because we thought flying a sh*tty little kite as a kid was fun, flying these 2.5m kites is blowing our minds! (And that’s only the beginner’s size). Mastering the wind with these kites takes a fair bit of skill, which Glen talks us through the whole time we’re flying. Really, in no time, we understand how to give ourselves a boost of speed when we are on the landboards and, more importantly, knowing how to stop.
Introduce the landboard!
With our feet firmly on the ground, we are pretty confident that we are well on our way to becoming “wind warriors”. (Oh my God, we love that name)! But once we threw a landboard into the works, things are not so easy. It’s like learning to walk again! Laura feels so clumsy letting the wind pull her out of the board bindings every second. (Don’t worry, Robin is saving his stacks for later). Robin is a bit shaky too, but after a few practices and heaps of help from Glen, we feel confident enough to start cruising down the beach.
Mastering the wind
This is such an awesome feeling! We’ve done snowboarding, skateboarding and surfing, but kite landboarding has something a bit extra. Instead of making the most of the elements, like with other board sports, we are mastering them! It’s a challenge but something we can feel ourselves improving on even in a 3-hour lesson. While being aware of the kite movement with our hands, we have to control the boards movement with the rest of our body. Once our kite finds that sweet spot in the wind, we can cruise along the beach, picking up more speed is we dare, just with the motion of our hands.
From stacking it to snacking it
We admit it, we both fall once during our cruise: Laura gracefully drags her ass on the floor in some sort of new and weird technique to stop when she feels she is about to lose control. (Letting go of the kite is the proper way to emergency stop as we learnt in our lesson). Then Robin has an epic stack, falling over his board, rolling around. Brilliant.
From then on, we are throwing all caution to the wind. (Well, we are not really, but just wanted to throw a wind pun in there)! Finally, we are killing it! We cruise for ages, gaining more and more confidence as we go, riding for about 10km or so.
We make it to the end of the beach just as the tide is coming in. From there, we’re back in the Jeep with Glen and Snoop Dogg making our way back to base.
Man, we are buzzing after that. We are almost tempted to buy our own kite landboarding gear then we remember that we live in a campervan with little room for landboards. We say see ya later to the Wind Warrior himself, Glen, and Snoop Dogg, and head into Foxton town to unwind for an hour, checking out the windmill, earthquake prone museum (so it is closed), and the oldest cemetery in Manawatu. That took a morbid turn.
Tonight, we hang out in the lovely Railway Hotel Backpackers in Palmerston North, have some of those complimentary snacks, and plan for more Palmerston North activities tomorrow!