Friday, February 29, 2008

coast to coast

Here's a map of the North Island. If it were a shark swimming down we basically drove from Raglan on the left fin (on the Tasman Sea) to the top of the right fin (on the Pacific), then cut straight down the right fin (imagine my surprise when Mr. Black said we'd be taking the fast way), then up and around the right fin (better known as the East Cape) then back across to where we began. You can just ignore the land mass on the left, which is Tasmania.

Our first stop after Raglan.

Skinner's sister Clare lives here with her partner (that's Kiwi-code for boyfriend) Rich, right on the beach in Mount Maunagnui. It's sort of like Santa Monica but without Coffee Bean or homeless people, and with a big emerald mountain on the sea.

Clare let me try out her surfboard in her front yard. Props to Mr. Black for getting this moment on film, cause it didn't last long.

Later that morning we left the Mount (as it's known) to hit the road for Gisborne (bottom of right fin). I was still in a really good mood here cause Mr. Black hadn't told me yet that we weren't taking the coastal route.

This is a campsite right by those train tracks in the photo above. There hadn't been many sunny beach moments before this one so I was totally bewildered when Mr. Black said we better hit the road to reach Gisborne in time for a sunset surf session.
Bewildered, I tell you. Speechless.

Here's what the road looked like once we cut inland. Not too shabby. Might be a good time to visit the first ever entry of this blog where I was sad that the vacant lot outside my window in Williamsburg got mowed, ruining my green view.

Ok, so he had a point about getting there by sunset. Here's the town beach at Gisborne.

First Mr. Black took out his fish, a sharp little seventies-style board that I am partial to because of its marigold orange accents, and cause it's the only one I can even attempt to ride.

He gave me a turn (pushing me into waves, one of the nicest things anyone can do for someone) while this moon rose over the surf rescue club.

The next morning we started up the right fin. This was one of our first stops, New Zealand's longest wharf at Tolaga Bay.

Mr. Black brakes for locals.

So the right fin, or the East Cape, as it's better known, is one the most remote pieces of an already remote country. There is no definitely no cell phone reception out here and our destination was Waihau Bay, where we were to meet up with Rich's (of Mount Maunganui) brother-in-law, Ben, out on a mad annual deep-sea fishing trip with his mates. He didn't know we were coming, or even who we were.

So basically we showed up in this town, which consists of only a pub and the church you see below (where Ben got married) and I walked out on the pier to a couple of guys bringing in a boat that looked like it came from "Apocalypse Now" while Mr. Black had a beer at the pub and I said to the captain, "Are you Ben?"
And indeed he was, so we bought him and his first mate Phil a beer and then he took us home, gave us bunk beds exactly like the ones I grew up with (only red instead of white), gin and tonics and took us to a barbecue with eight of his closest friends, none of whom caught anything fishing that day (except Ben's Mako Shark, which he threw back).

This is a great nation.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


One of my favorite people asked me yesterday what my favorite time of day was. I said dusk, but I may reconsider to say the the time pictured here, just a few moments before dusk.

This is one of my favorite spots ever. It's where you'll end up if you keep driving up up up a dirt road above Whale Bay, Raglan. One day after a rip-roaring afternoon session at Bunny Beach I drove up here myself while Mr. Black was still tearing it up at Whale Bay.

At the end of the path is a little lookout where you can see just how very high you are.

Good place to gain a little perspective.

Looks like you can see the curvature of the earth, right?

Favorites. Driving to the top of a dirt road by myself after a day of two bum-kicking surf-attempting sessions in my grey hooded sweatshirt over a just-dried bikini moments before dusk in a golden field thousands of feet above the sea. This is a favorite.

Come to think of it, this is what I came for.

surfer bunny flies north

So last week I walked onto this Air New Zealand plane on a sunny day in Queenstown, waved goodbye to the Remarkables and was away to the North Island.

Here is Mr. Black, my co-pilot for this journey. He is a supplier of exotic Brazilian fruits and also has the distinction of being the most SoCal friend I have. He came to New Zealand largely for the purpose of surfing Raglan, one of the country's most famous breaks, so that was our first stop.

Raglan's famous waves are at three main points: Manu Bay, Whale Bay and Indicators. This is Indicators. Mr. Black is somewhere out there but I'd be a big liar if I said I knew which one was him.

Manu Bay, for all you wave-checkers.

This makes me think of my old friend John Ricksen from UCSB shaking my shoulders freshman year in the dorms, glowing after a great sunset session, telling me about getting barreled and asking me, "Do you know what that does for a man?!"

The truth is that I don't know. But, while Mr. Black was out shredding at Indicators I would go surfing at this place, affectionately dubbed Bunny Beach (reminds me of my toddler days at Snowbunny Ski School at Snowmass, Colorado.) I've yet to get barreled, but standing on a giant yellow styrofoam board at Bunny Beach was a good (safe) start to the week.

I know it looks like I'm not really moving, and just standing in two inches of water, but I swear it's not true. Pretty extreme, I know.

Here I am with my trusty Styro Steed. This was one of four different boards I got tossed around with all week. One of my favorite things about this one was looking at the bright yellow against the slate grey transparent water, and the crisp whitewash. Those guys at Indicators are tough, but I bet I appreciate the colors of surfing way more than they do. Though the colors inside a barrel are probably pretty sweet. I did graduate to less dining room table-like boards as the week wore on, but I'm definitely still bunny-status.

Here's Whale Bay's single street lamp under the full moon.

please hold

Because 2008 is a leap year I have one more day to write about February.
The delay has been largely due to a wave-chasing tour of the North Island.
Sit tight--choppers, fish and chips to follow.
Oh, and I jumped out of an airplane on Monday.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

fashion week

Ok, so I am monitoring some fashion week coverage here from the land of karen walker, but really, who needs The Moment when you've got visionaries like this one flitting about?

Here she shows an alternative to black bar sunglasses appropriate for daytime or evening while sporting her usual youthful Scandanavian look, accessorized with day-glo froggy or the occasional blankie.
Watch out Bjork.