New Zealand Surfing, Surf Charter New Zealand- Waterways Travel Images

New Zealand Surfing, Surf Charter New Zealand- Waterways Travel

Welcome to Middle Earth, the land of Raglan, Ahipara and Mangamaunu, where the Misty Mountains split the westerly winds into rainclouds and offshore winds. Where waves as gentle as Hobbits and as monstrous as Orcs break in countless coves, bays, fjords, rivermouths, points and reefs on four sides of an island that sometimes looks like another world.

The producers of the Lord of the Rings chose New Zealand as their location because this other-worldly beauty from river bottoms to mountain tops saved them a fortune on CG. The New Zealand location made the cast pretty happy, because Merry, Pippin, Mr. Frodo and Aragon are all surfers.

And if you want in on a behind the scenes secret, when Aragon was fighting the cave troll in the Mines of Moria, in Fellowship of the Ring, they could only shoot one side of Vigo Mortensen’s face, because his surfboard had smacked him upside the head a few days before.

The truth is, Merry and Pippin and Aragorn and Sam and Frodo all did a lot of surfing when they were in New Zealand, because how could you not?

Whether they were Polynesian or Dutch or Scottish, the voyagers who pioneered and colonized New Zealand came from a long way away and survived perils and ordeals to make it to this nature-kissed archipelago in the South Pacific. And that adventuresome spirit still runs through the DNA of modern New Zealanders, who have a sailboat in their backyard, and two camper vans in every garage. New Zealanders love the road as much as Australians do, and the island is dotted with top-notch campgrounds and caravan parks “from Cape Reinga to the Bluff.”

Knowing the surf potential of New Zealand, and knowing that hiring a 4WD vehicle or camper van is the best way to experience the country, WaterWays Travel has teamed up with Britz and Maui Rentals to offer a variety of sturdy, comfortable, safe vehicles to explore both islands, and both coasts.

The Polynesians found the islands between 800 and 1300 AD, and Dutchman Abel Tasman came along in 1642. The native Maori were hostile and the islands were ignored for more than a century, when Captain Cook came to the islands in 1768. That started a flood of traders, castaways, pirates and other flotsam and jetsam, including the Christian missionaries who began converting the Maori in the early 1800s. In 1840 William Hobson represented Great Britain in the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, which brought New Zealand under British rule, but guaranteed rights to the Maori.

The native Maori now refer to their land as “Aotearoa.” While some have translated that to “Land of the long, white cloud,” perhaps a more accurate translation would be “Land of the long left point and heaps of swell in a place with almost as much coastline as the United States.”

From the northern tip of the North Island at Cape Reinga, to The Bluff near the southern tip of the South Island, New Zealand is about 860 miles as the crow flies. But crows don’t surf and believe it or not, those two islands which aren’t even as long as California have almost as much coastline as the continental United States: 9,403 miles of coastline, placing it eighth, just after the United States in total coastline.

Think of California with two coasts, facing into very different oceans, but a California that is out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, swept constantly by the trades and other winds and directly in the path of all those low pressure systems moving up out of the Southern Ocean.

The surfing world’s fascination with New Zealand goes back to The Endless Summer, when Mike and Robert found long, perfect lefts at Shipwreck Bay on the northern tip of the North Island, and at Raglan, which is in the middle of  the North Island and also on the west coast.

They also found a lot of trout swimming in crystal-clear rivers flowing through mountains and valleys and plains, in a country that is considered by many to be one of the most naturally-blessed places on earth. You saw it all in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and they barely had to use CG.

New Zealand has all that coastline, all that interior beauty and a population of less than five million. Now imagine California with two coasts and with 25 million less people. Sounds good? Is good. And WaterWays has partnerships with Britz and Maui Rentals to get you there and back again.