Monday, August 22, 2011

The Coromandel: Hot Water Beach!

Surf wise, this was THE DAY! We got up super early and hit the road again. Driving past the iconic L&P bottle in Paeroa it was still almost dark. Having heard there was a pumping bank at the north of Hot Water Beach on the low tide from a local up that way, we decided to skip Whangamata and the crowds and head to the more secluded northern Coromandel beaches.
Stopping only in Tairua at the bakery for a custard square, a pie and an ice coffee, we made good time. Half way up Pumpkin Hill is the Twin Kauri Reserve where we stopped briefly for a quick history lesson and photo then down to Sailor's Grave to check what swell was on offer. The sun was just rising and the sky was perfect clear blue with a light off shore breeze feathering the lips of a nice consistent clean ground swell. Perfect!!

It was hard to leave, but with the promised land just around the corner we all jumped back in the car and drove the remaining 25 minutes or so to our destination. There were already about half a dozen cars in the car park and a bunch of campers with there spades heading down the beach to dig out their own little hot pool. Wetsuits on, sunscreen on, fins in and boards waxed, we hit the beach running!

 The overview of Hot Water Beach looking to the northern corner where we surfed a really good left.

 Campers and tourists digging their hot pools at low tide which fill with natural hot spring water from springs right beneath.

 Ken putting in his fins and enjoying the grassy car park.

 Shinya getting set and about to farewell his jandal, R.I.P. wherever you may be.

 The beautiful walk up the secluded beach.

 Shinya post surf and grinning ear to ear.

 Me, knackered, but stoked after surfing cranking waves non-stop all morning.

 Ken caught so many lefts he ended up halfway down the beach. Hahaha.

The swim area at the southern end of Hot Water Beach patrolled by the lifeguards over the summer months has a little store with ice creams, snacks and drinks for the hungry and parched.

This photo was one taken 2 weeks later and the banks were still perfect!

Obon Vacation

Usually at this time of year I'm packing up the car with camping gear and surfboards and heading off on a mission to find waves either in Fukushima, Miyagi or Iwate in the north of Japan. However, following the disaster in March and the nuclear fallout that has affected much of the area we decided to stay closer to home.
A picture of a semi secret river mouth up north that can get super super good on it's day taken in the summer of 2009.

Early on there was a low pressure system forming that looked as though it may develop into a tropical depression or even a typhoon which would've brought us plenty of swell and homegrown entertainment. It wasn't to be though, and instead it's been pretty small right throughout the week meaning the old single fin long board got dusted off and paddled around. The weather was pretty good though, so at least the BBQs got a good workout.

 Synchronized BBQing above and below with Shinya @ Hokuto and Tomoko's captured by Dave Yamaya.
A fun little peeler at Seaside in Kamogawa (photo: Dave Yamaya)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mt Maunganui & Natural Hot Springs

To give everyone an idea who doesn't know or isn't familiar, this is a birds eye view from the Mount of the thin strip of land known as Mt. Maunganui. A magnificent stretch of beach and one of the fastest growing populations in NZ.
 Photo credit* Rambo Estrada

 This was probably one of the longest days during our week's holiday in NZ. With Rags flat and swell beckoning on the East Coast I decided to check out an old haunt, Mt Maunganui, where I used to hitchhike to and learnt to Lifeguard at back in my high school days with friends Chris and Justin (Merp). The place has changed unbelievably so over the years. What was once a sleepy surf town with classic kiwi baches and spacious backyards is now a lively happening place with massive cruise ships filled with tourists from Australia and beyond as well as sky high condominiums and apartments lining the main beach. However, it still hasn't lost that cool beach vibe that attracted me to it back in the day and we even managed to score some fun uncrowded waves on Main Beach in the middle of summer. I have a hunch that the island across the harbour was firing that day which may explain the lineup....but you need a boat to access that. Maybe next time.

Me and Mum checking out her new(ish) camper before we left.
 A chicken pie for breakfast from the BP servo on the way.
 Top of the Kaimai Ranges looking back over the Waikato plains and Hobbitville (Lord of the Rings set)
 We're here!
 Shinya and Ken waxing up Main Beach with the Mount behind them. (FREE Parking STILL!)
 The Mount Beach looking North to the Surf Club.
 The Mount Beach looking South to Leisure Island and Shark Alley where we used to run out to, jump off and swim in for training.
 Cracking the lip on a nice juicy righthander.
 Beach volleyball crew were training hard for an upcoming contest.
 Damn tasty Ginger Beer after a long surf sesh in the sun.
 The most expensive sandwich I've ever bought. What was I thinking?! I was too drained from surfing to look any further. Still, it tasted fine.
On the road again to Rotorua going past the local train.
 Our semi-secret natural hot spring just out of Rotorua.
 Shinya enjoying the 36 degree water after a long fun day in the sun surfing.
 BYO Beers were the icing on the cake!
Huge thanks to my long time mate, Chris, for taking care of us in Rotorua.  Arigatou from us all!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Moonlight Surf

Holidays started 8pm yesterday and go until the end of the week. With a full moon and good banks at Seaside in Kamogawa, the call was made to kick things off with a moonlight surf. No better way to beat the crowds and cool off after a hot day at the office! Dave called a High School student of ours (and neighbour) and he was in, too.
We hit the water @9:30pm and despite there being a bit of cloud action and haze dulling the light, we all caught some keepers. The waves were pure glass, there was phosphorus in the water dancing around like little angels and the water was warm as! K's mum and dad came down to check it out and took this pic of us enjoying a post surf beer!
Check her blog HERE for cool handcrafted designs and food to die for.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Kiyoshi Kaneda is a charger! He spends a lot of time here in Kamogawa and rides Grace Surfboards. Super mellow and friendly on land, the kid's an inspiration to many in the water. This is a classic shot of him taking on the elements during typhoon #9 right here in JAPAN.
Photo courtesy of Kirby Fikunaga @ Go Naminori.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A new phone and Soba

Well, it happened. My cell phone for the last 4 years finally gave up the ghost. It had been through a lot, dropped numerous times, traveled to Hawaii, NZ, Australia and around Japan and kept coming back for more. It died peacefully with a nice blacked out screen. The result, I lost all my data (numbers, mail addresses, etc). So, it's a good chance to spring clean and start over. And this is what I got..
The new(ish) white iPhone 4 smart phone. The number is the same as before as is my mail address. If you read this and want to be back in my contacts, please mail me your number and include your name. Arigatougozaimasu!

Being a Softbank customer, I had to go all the way down to Tateyama to sort out all the phone crap. On the way down I stopped at a Soba restaurant in Emi on Route 128. The Zaru Soba Set was ¥900 and was super delicious, just what we felt like. Check it out if you're going past, I recommend it.

Pre-work Surf

Yesterday was a beautiful summer day. The sun was out, the wind was light and there were waves courtesy of typhoon #10 sitting to the East of Japan pulsing in fun ground swell. Dave snapped this photo of me enjoying the moment. Just need to bend my old creaky knees a bit more...
Mahalo for the photo Dave!
Check his website 'KamogawaPower' for a bunch of cool photo galleries around town, daily blog, photography services and more...