Go Travel The Pacific - - Contents - By Dr Tom Mul­hol­land

Having spent most of my adult life liv­ing in Taranaki New Zealand and chas­ing waves around the planet, one of my favourite trips is def­i­nitely Tahiti. With a flight time of 5 hours and es­cap­ing a wet and cold New Zealand win­ter, the French vibe and clear wa­ters of Tahiti

were a wel­come tonic to the win­ter chill.

This trip was with my ex flat­mate and now Car­di­ol­o­gist, Dr Guy Arm­strong, and bio­chemist Ray Dolan. It’s fair to say that our aca­demic cre­den­tials don’t quite match our surf­ing abil­ity and we were about to get tested against some se­ri­ous Poly­ne­sian swell. Having been the camp doc­tor at G- Land in In­done­sia and having to su­ture up dozens of peo­ple hit­ting the reef or their boards, I was not un­fa­mil­iar with the risks of the reef or your own board as the scar on Guys face was a tes­ti­mony to.

It was with a sense of re­lief that we all did the 40 minute pad­dle across the la­goon at Haapiti to per­fect 4 to 5 foot hol­low clean waves with only 4 guys out. Be­ing older and wiser now, I would sug­gest tak­ing a boat to the pass, as the pad­dle back af­ter 3 to 4 hours of non- stop surf­ing and pad­dling leaves you a lit­tle tired and harder to get two ses­sions in a day. Not only were we greeted with world class un­crowded waves, the lo­cals were friendly and one of them was leg­endary Tahi­tian surfer Vetea David, or Poto as he was known in the world pro­fes­sional cir­cuit who had won the world ju­nior surf ti­tle be­fore turn­ing pro. As we took our re­spect­ful place in the lineup we watched the lo­cals rip it up and get so deep in the bar­rel their flash­ing smiles al­most lit up the tube.

Having surfed in many coun­tries and wit­nessed ‘ lo­cal­ism’ at my own break, re­spect is a key word and once the lo­cals can see you are po­lite and take your turn, gen­er­ally you can get some waves, es­pe­cially if it’s not over­crowded. The surf gods smiled on us and af­ter wit­ness­ing the world’s best at his home break we were given the lo­cal Tahi­tian hand­shake on our boards, and it was time to get some waves.

Af­ter the warm wel­come I didn’t want to kook it and go over the falls in front of the lo­cals or my mates, so put in the ex­tra nec­es­sary pad­dles you need in the is­lands as the waves travel fast and they pitch quick. The board was mov­ing, I re­sisted the urge to stand, 2 more strokes then I was up and drop­ping into a clean per­fect wave, I sur­vived the bot­tom turn and pulled up and set my line be­fore the lip pitched over me and I was in the famed green room, the

bar­rel. It seemed like time stood still as I saw the reef speed­ing un­der me, the wave pitch­ing over me and my Sea­sons surf­board shaped by BJ, hum­ming, and Poto grin­ning at me down the line, I felt like I was in a movie. What seemed like for­ever in the tube, is still for­ever in my mind and eas­ily re­played, that’s the joy of trav­el­ling and those spe­cial mo­ments.

The bar­rel be­came a sur­fa­ble wall and our we were blessed with a week of un­crowded waves and an epic surf ad­ven­ture. The last day a new swell ar­rived about ten foot and it was not the same place when it got big and raw, def­i­nitely need a boat in those con­di­tions and lo­cal knowl­edge, not for the faint hearted or in­ex­pe­ri­enced. A guide or a lo­cal is a great idea any­where in the world you surf if you can af­ford it or have friends who are lo­cals. Let them see you surf and find waves and con­di­tions to match your abil­ity if you aren’t a hard­core surfer that can cope with all con­di­tions.

We set sail on an overnight freighter to the is­land of Huahine. While the oth­ers slept I was en­ter­tained on the deck in a rolling swell and warm wind by a lo­cal who told me of la grande vague, which means the big wave, on the nearby is­land of Ra­iatea. There is a say­ing, only a surfer knows the feel­ing and no trans­la­tion was needed as this lo­cals eyes lit up as he de­scribed this big wave. He was vague on lo­ca­tion and I was happy for that, as we headed for the qual­ity waves of Fi­tii and Fare.

The vibe on Huahine in the wa­ter at the time was not as friendly as Moorea, due to ex pats rather than lo­cals, but the waves and swell were epic and as a goofy footer the left at Fi­tii had three bar­rel sec­tions and a fun wall to carve and be­ing a pass breaks into deep wa­ter and a chan­nel. It was se­ri­ous fun and see­ing your av­er­age mates surf like pros, ( well it felt like we were all surf­ing like pros) as the wa­ter is w warm, only board and rash shorts, a and we were liv­ing the dream.

Stay­ing in pensions and ho­tels, g great food and French in­flu­ence m makes Tahiti one of my favourite and m most mem­o­rable lo­ca­tions. There a are waves for all abil­i­ties and many is is­lands to choose from in­clud­ing th the main is­land. Armed with a big s smile, a good at­ti­tude and some lo lo­cal knowl­edge, you can make your o own surf video and have the trip of a life­time, it’s a qual­ity place and p per­fect in the New Zealand win­ter. Ta Take plenty of sun­block, and re­spect fo for the lo­cals and you will do well.

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