Learning to surf – the best adventure
By parent contributor: Ruth Lavelle Treacy
As a mother of three young boys there is nothing more satisfying than watching them learn new things, challenge themselves and love it in the process. Especially if that thing takes them closer to nature and enjoying physical exercise.
So when, as a family from Wellington new to holidaying in Mangawhai, we stumbled across Aotearoa Surf the boys quickly enrolled in the surf holiday programme.
I distinctly remember walking down the beautiful white beach with the boys playing around me as I walked along and noticing a large crowd of happy children. They were taking a break from the water and were cavorting down a high sand dune at speed on boogy boards. It was clear it was an organised activity of some sort and the boys and I were intrigued to find out what this awesome fun was all about. A chilled out looking guy ambled over and explained what it was all about and encouraged the boys to join in the next day. That was Che, owner of Aotearoa Surf.
The following day I dropped all three boys off – Mickey (5), Frankie (7) and Joey (9) and left them for the day with Che, his group of young, enthusiastic instructors and a group of excited kids. It was that easy.
It was pretty extraordinary to be told later that day at pick up time, that all three boys could stand up on a board! I had been a little worried about sunburn and dehydration and things like that, but the instructors know that health & safety are paramount and as a result, were really good at helping the children apply sunscreen and encouraging them to drink water. That night the children were exhausted but super happy and the next day, were ready for more.
Almost three years after that chance meeting – and all three boys can now surf, have a good understanding of the sea, have made new friends and are lucky enough to have had a whole new sport open up for them. As a family we are all now learning more about surfing – the technique, determination and sense of adventure it takes to become a surfer.
I often watch my boys surf and to see the excitement on their faces when they catch wave is awesome. Joey, the eldest is now learning tricks and turns and his determination to improve is impressive. He has buddied up with another boy and the two of them ages 11 and 12 paddle out to the back and spend ages deliberating waves, trying to catch them, ride them and just generally have a great time. It is very sweet to see how they idealise the cool young instructors at Aotearoa Surf – all of them great role models.
I asked Joey to describe his surfing experience: “It was easy to start because the instructors push you into waves, all you had to do was pop up and it would be really fun riding the wave. It was hard when I started riding green waves and paddling into my own waves it was a lot more tiring when I started catching the bigger ones.Now I am an intermediate surfer, pretty confident out in the water and really enjoying going out and catching waves. The Aotearoa Surf instructors are really nice and they understand what you need and they give you loads of good tips and help you loads.”
“Surfing means quite a lot to me and I enjoy it lots and it takes away my energy and I find it relaxing when you pop up and you are on the wave. That’s the thing, in the holidays it’s a cool thing to try if you are getting a bit bored because in a couple of days you will be riding waves and its pretty sick and I hope you will enjoy it.”
Even Mickey, who was only five when he first started loves to tell the tale: “It was quite fun to give it a go and I went to the Aotearoa Surf Club, I was pushed into a few waves, popped up and fell over a few. Now I can surf on my own riding green waves. I feel good. Feels nice riding the wave touching the water. The surf camp was pretty good it yeah, I’ve done Aotearoa Surf lots and I would recommend to my friends if they like water to try it.”
The thing we all love about surfing is that it’s not just about being able to ride a wave, it’s about being down at the beach and in that beautiful ocean. We are so privileged in New Zealand to have such a stunning coastline, who wouldn’t want to get closer to that and be part of it?
I remember once when the kids were doing a surf holiday programme with Aotearoa Surf, the instructors decided to take the children for a walk to some rock pools, through some reserve and over to another beautiful beach. The kids saw a seal, a stingray in the water, crabs, fish and all sorts of birds. It was a beach safari and they loved it. How cool is that?
This past summer, the boys decided to do the five night sleepover surf camp. And what a hoot that was! And um, yes, as a Mum, who wouldn’t be happy about the kids have five nights at an awesome camp?! There were 46 children who participated, girls and boys and a range of ages from young to teenagers. My boys had a blast with surf lessons twice a day, campfires, water slides and general kid-chaos-and-hilarity! Their fitness increased hugely over that time and they returned to cricket and swimming at home and have done really well off that high fitness base.
To be honest, at the end of the day, over a summer holiday, you want the whole family to have fun, to be active and to feel like they are achieving. And surfing has allowed us to do that.
And who doesn’t love a summer holiday with an excuse to hang out at a beautiful beach and have a blast from morning to night? I challenge you to turn that down 🙂