Friday, May 22, 2009
East Cape Exploration
A beautiful Tuesday was quickly followed by a cold Wednesday with poor weather including a lot of wind some rain, and bad surf. As winter continues to bear down, the house gets increasingly cold. It reminds me of San Luis Obispo home, where I've been able to see my breathe before getting out of bed in the morning. It doesn't get particularly foggy in Gisborne, but it will typically hang low in the valleys on a cool morning. Thursday morning saw cold, onshore wind at the house. Since the swell was quite easterly, my friend and I decided to explore north once again. We followed the coastline to Tolaga Bay before continuing north another 100 kilometers to a small bay. The clouds disappeared and gave way to sunny, blue skies as we arrived in the small town of less than 500 residents that's best known for its beaches and fishing. The beach break is known for its reliable sandbars that produce great waves under the right conditions. The primary break of the area is a right hand point break rarely mentioned and located just in front of the town's Marae (sacred place used for religious and social events in Maori communities). Both the beach break and point work best on ENE swells with SW winds. Small waves at the point meant the beach break was the only option. We watched a handful of makeable waves come through but the overhead barrels breaking 20 meters from shore looked a bit daunting. We decided we could find better and headed further north 10 kilometers to another secluded bay. A small, indescript side road winds its way down the cliffs towards the ocean and terminates in another small beach community rarely discovered by travelers due to its remote location. We road several kilometers down the valley before turning off towards the beach. We hit the coast traveling back southeast. As the road turned to dirt, we passed peak after peak of fun beach break with no one out. After a kilometer of empty waves, we got our first good look at the point just as a set rolled, gleaming in the sunlight and feathered from the offshore winds. We soon reached the point to find a beachwood fire blazing in a clearing and six surfers already in the lineup (in the picture shows the point from the cliff; you can see a wave breaking on the inside in between the rocks). The wave is a relatively short, punchy right that provides a critical drop, usually followed by a short barrel section or a solid wall for a couple of turns. The wave abruptly ends into a boulder-rock shoreline, so kicking out earlier than later is the best way to avoid damaging board/body. Overhead sets and low tide made for pretty ideal surf conditions. The crowd quickly diminished, leaving us with just two other surfers from Gisborne. As the sunset, we caught our last waves before making our way back home.