at your own risk

New Zealand Surfing - - Roady -

By Cory There is a saying “Suc­cess breeds suc­cess” so for a few years now we have been try­ing to bring to­gether the A-Team for an epic ad­ven­ture on the great NZ Surf Pita Pit Roady. To have the best open and ju­nior surfer in the coun­try along for the ride, scor­ing epic waves and shar­ing all time laughs and at the same time feed­ing off each other’s stoke and driven to per­form out in the waves through each other’s per­for­mance was a sight we hoped we’d get to make hap­pen. It ain't easy though, pulling two guys to­gether who con­stantly travel the world surf­ing con­tests, guys who are away more than they are home. The se­cret was find­ing a win­dow of surf in­side their win­dow of avail­abil­ity. Two weeks prior it al­most hap­pened and it looked as if the Pita Pit Roady would again re­turn to the East Coast, we didn’t want that as we like to share the love around the coast­line, but win­ter had brought along a run of harsh westerly flows. Then at the last minute Kehu But­ler called to say he couldn’t make it, of­fer­ing some poor ex­cuse along the lines of “I’m off to Cloud­break with Con­nor O’Leary.” NZ’s West Coast was bomb­ing at 10 feet plus so we knew in a cou­ple of days Fiji would be cop­ping that, so we wished Kehu well, although we were all totally green with envy. The fol­low­ing week the stars aligned in more ways than one, the West Coast looked to have its first run of off­shores for months, and both Kehu and Billy Stair­mand were home and froth­ing for some waves. Here we had the master 28-year-old 6X Na­tional Champ and the 16-year-old heir ap­par­ent locked and loaded cruis­ing down the Pita Pit High­way bound for the Naki. There’s not many places in the world where an East Coast surfer can jump in the car in the morn­ing and drive across to the West Coast and still ar­rive in time for an arvo surf, but here in NZ we have it damn lucky, so when the lo­cal coast doesn’t co-op­er­ate if you’re keen and will­ing a lit­tle drive can see you score and keep those hunger pains at bay. Drives like this have be­come com­mon place on the Pita Pit Roady and we sim­ply never get sick of the jour­ney, as they say half the jour­ney is sim­ply get­ting there. While we are keen to set our eyes on the coast there is so much stun­ning coun­try­side and sights to see on any given route. As we pass the nat­u­ral lime­stone sculp­tures of the Wait­omo district and out through the iconic tun­nel of the Awakino Gorge it is a short wind on out to the straights be­fore we would meet the West Coast. Good news was sig­nalled by the road side toitoi’s which were an­gled to­ward the coast, off­shore! Yet count­ing against us scor­ing any type of wave was the low tide. This coast­line is long and straight, al­most ap­pear­ing end­less as you eye north and south down to the Taranaki Cape. Typ­i­cally, this coast­line of­fered up straight close­outs which usu­ally tran­spires into con­tin­u­ing on down to the Naki one hour away. How­ever, the one sav­ing grace that can break up these fea­ture­less beaches are the myr­iad of rivers that flow to the sea in this area, usu­ally by the time they feed out into the Tas­man they are spread wide and shal­low, un­able to carve

and hold any such form in the shift­ing iron sand base. Yet time it right after some good rain and some mag­i­cal banks can be scored. The first river we ar­rived at de­liv­ered the usual greet­ing of long straight-han­ders and the se­cond spot just fur­ther down the coast had carved a gi­ant hole at the mouth of the river where waves sim­ply re­formed back into swells, yet there way down the beach where this gi­ant gut­ter ran up the coast, right where it bent on out to sea, peeled one wave, then two, then a third all drain­ing off right on the shore one af- ter an­other. After hours in the car and with only hours left of day­light the lads were in their suits and run­ning down the beach within sec­onds. Whether it was an in­ten­tional bat­tle for supremacy, hav­ing two of our best surfers go­ing toe to toe, wave for wave, push­ing each other, was epic to wit­ness! And the ses­sion went well into the dark­ness, Billy who had been back home in Raglan for a while was stoked to go right for the first time in a while. With clear skies and the sun de­part­ing for the day the tem­per­a­ture had plum­meted and ice had al­ready be- gun to form a crust on the black sand beach. By the time we rolled into New Ply­mouth after six hours drive and four hours surf, the lads were ready to chew their arms off they were that starv­ing, thank­fully we had a bet­ter op­tion planned after all these guys wouldn’t do to well with­out their arms. The crew at Pita Pit were stoked to see us back in town, when­ever we hit the road we call into the Pit for a health­ier choice, after all surfer’s love noth­ing more than tasty pits! It ap­peared as if Billy hadn’t eaten in weeks pretty much swal­low­ing his pita

whole be­fore or­der­ing an­other. Then it was back on the road, head­ing fur­ther south on Surf High­way 45, plan­ning it so when we woke at first light we were al­ready near the coast. With a full moon il­lu­mi­nat­ing the night, the snow-cov­ered moun­tain glowed, the lineup out front was also com­pletely vis­i­ble with stacked groomed lines pour­ing through, but this was no kind of tem­per­a­ture for a night surf! We hardly slept, ex­cited at what dawn would bring, we were up a good hour

Clock­wise from top left: You've been warned! - The first sight of the coast on day 1 de­liv­ered this juicy gem of a bank. - Team Champ Kehu But­ler and Billy Stair­mand slowly psy­che for the pad­dle out.

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