103 Days on the Road
This is it – the day we have been most looking forward to since arriving at Bazil’s Hostel in Westport. Murals of The Evolution of Surfing, surfing kiwi birds, surfing pukeko, painted surf boards telling us to do our dishes… All of this has been teasing us with the promise of surf. That’s right, today we are going surfing in Westport.
Steve, the hostel owner and surf instructor, and Tom, another surf instructor, gather up the hostel’s WWOOFers and few more guests to join on a surf trip down at North Beach. We have a great mix of experience and nationalities all pumped to spend some time surfing/splashing in the water.
The closest we’ll surf to Antarctica
There is a surf break at the tip of North Beach just before the it reaches the exit of the Buller River. We all help unload the surf boards off the trailer then squeeze into our wetsuits in a grassy area with much needed picnic tables for balance… The wetsuits are pretty Goddamn warm, which they need to be! This is probably the closest to Antarctica that we’ll ever go surfing! The booties really help too.
Recapping the surf skills
A couple of hostel guests have never done surfing so they are getting the full beginner surf lesson, while the rest of us are having a quick recap from Tom before hitting the water. The noses of the surfboards are in a perfect semicircle pointing at Tom, while he teaches us how to get up on the board.
Two German lads run into the waves as soon as they can, and the WWOOFers are perfecting their skills – just one of the perks of WWOOFing at a surf hostel, we guess!
How the tables are about to turn
Meanwhile, we use this session in Westport to practice what we have learned earlier on this trip in Raglan, (and from numerous beginner lessons before that). If you can remember, Laura was killing it on the surfboards in Raglan, putting Robin to a deep and dark shame. Well… things change.
Robin the surfing legend
Robin is standing up wave after wave! Who is this guy?! What happened to the guy who could barely stand up when we went paddle boarding in Whangamata? The Frenchy even manages to jump, switch from regular to goofy, stands for a complete second, before crashing to the water. It’s insane!
When he rides a wave to beach up to Laura who is snapping up the action on the camera, he screams: “I’m going again!” And runs back out to sea. Wow, life really is better when you surf…
Let’s pretend that the person stood up in the distance is Laura…
Although we’d hate to do it, we swap places – Laura on the board while Robin snaps the pics. But… Laura does sh*t! If she can even catch a wave, she falls off instantly! It’s shameful to watch. The one time she rides a wave, of course, Robin has run away with the camera because he got it covered in seawater… Gawwwwd!
Surfing with epic views
So, it wasn’t a successful surf session for Laura, but who can deny that splishy splashy in the water is a lot of fun. Plus, the views from the water are pretty epic with a driftwood-covered beach and a backdrop of mountains.
After about two or three hours (we lose track of time), we regroup on the beach, chill out on some driftwood until we get ourselves together and help pack the surfboards away.
Pretending to be on Kiwi Experience
Back at Bazil’s we do some work type stuff then a bus load of 25 to 30 guests arrive from the Kiwi Experience – a backpacker hop-on hop-off bus. Tonight, they are going down as a group to North Beach to make use of all that driftwood to make a bonfire. (Well, Ok, not all that driftwood, but you get our “drift” – wheyyy)!
A few other hostel guests and us are going to pretend we are on the Kiwi Experience for the night and tag along.
Beach bonfire in Westport
We merge onto the Kiwi Experience bus and Murray, the driver guide, takes us down the potholed-riddled track down to North Beach. (That’s some pretty mean driving skills, Murray)!! Then we hop off, grab some shovels to dig a fire pit if needed, and walk in the dark to the beach.
Already, some enthusiastic so-and-so has found some burning embers that he is trying to bring back to life. The rest of us are grabbing firewood frantically trying to keep the fire alight. It’s a success! We now have a reasonably-sized bonfire. Some of the rest of the group has rolled over some large logs to sit on around the fire. Then there’s that token girl who says: “Great job, team, while she has been stood there doing nothing the whole time.” (We call her Laura… Jokes, she was taking photos… So yes she still did absolutely nothing to help).
Drinks and marshmallows
In true Kiwi Experience style, most of the group are drinking Scrumpy’s (cheap cider), bagged wine and beers. We’re more interested in the marshmallows that so many people have bought that they cannot eat them all. We’re here to help with that.
Conversation goes well into the night with some lovely people either studying, holidaying or working holidaying in New Zealand, and we exchange stories of our epic gap year for stories of their good times on the hop-on hop-off bus.
Nighttime stroll back to Bazil’s
Because we’re old, boring and have to get up at 5am to work, we walk back to the hostel with an awesome Finnish girl who we won’t even attempt to spell her name (Inge….).
What else is there to say? We go to bed! Don’t judge us!
Join us tomorrow where we are going to Karamea!
Bonfire under the stars in Westport
Well, you’ve come to the right place! Check out these articles:
- The Best Surf Regions in New Zealand
- 5 Places to Surf in the South Island
- A Day in the Life of a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Passenger
See you tomorrow!