Monday, May 4, 2009
Big swell doesn't always mean good surfing conditions. With the forecast calling for a 3-6 foot southeast swell, I was keen to track down some surf. Many of Gisborne's beaches are best on SE swells, but this one came along with some poor weather, including relatively high winds. I checked the surf across the street at Pines, but it was too onshore and mixed up. I decided to head north to explore the coast and see if I could find some waves. My flatmates Ana and Gio wanted to join, so I threw the board in the car and we traveled over the hill. Makarori lies just on the other side Okitu, 3 kilometers up the road from my home. It consists of four different spots: Makarori Point, Centres, Creeks, and Northerns. Makarori is one of the most popular spots near Gisborne since it offers a variety of breaks and has a large swell window. The stormy conditions were unfavorable at Makarori as well, so we continued on. After passing by Tatapouri, Pouawa, and Whangara (where Whale Rider was filmed), we turned off at Loisell's Beach. Loisell's is a relatively secluded break 25 kilometers north of Okitu and almost 6 kilometers from the highway down a rugged dirt road. The turn off is completely unmarked and requires a bit of direction and luck to find. Slowly winding down the hill, we were surrounded by rolling hills and beautiful paddocks dotted with sheep. Towards the bottom, we came across a small cluster of homes just before the road dead ended into the beach. We drove straight onto the sand to take a look at the surf. Finding poor conditions again, we did a bit of exploring before continuing on. Our next stop was Tolaga Bay.Another 20 kilometers north of Loisell's lies Tolaga Bay, a small town originally only accessible via boat. The largest wharf in New Zealand juts a kilometer out to sea at the bay's southern end. The shoreline was riddled with drift wood, mainly sourced from the Waiau and Mangaheia Rivers which flow into the bay. The East Cape region has a well-developed logging industry, which is highly visible at most beaches. Gisborne Harbour has a consant stream of logging ships to load. Though Tolaga Bay isn't best known for its surf, there are several good sandbars that form up and down the beach, primarily near the wharf and rivers.After fighting the wind all the way to the end of the wharf and finding no decent surf to speak of, we decided to head back home. Maybe we should've headed south instead.