Waipu Weekend

We've been taking advantage of the warm weather lately and escaping Auckland for the beaches of Northland.

This last long weekend we headed up to Waipu Cove. We had pretty nice weather, with the water temperature around 22°C so the days revolved around spending as much time in the surf as possible with regular pit stops to fuel the hungry hoards.

The kids had a ball riding boogie boards and body surfing, burying themselves in the sand etc. As the supposedly creative adult in the group I had to listen to a regular chorus of 'bury me in the sand dad!' 'make me into a mermaid dad!' 'make mine a racing car' - you get the idea - evidently I'm some kind of sand Michelangelo.

Occassionally I obliged their requests but mostly I had a blast learning to catch waves on a paddleboard. It's exhausting work and I had lots of embarrassing and uncoordinated failed attempts which are all very funny to onlookers apparently, but it's pretty damn nice when you get it right and actually hook up on a swell.

As a result my sketches were generally completed while laying exhausted on the beach recovering from the surf (and at one stage a blood nose from trying to get out through the break).

Unfortunately all this great beach weather has had a major impact on drowning rates in New Zealand this year. For a small country we have an extensive coastline with some pretty rugged tide and surf conditions so it's always satisfying to be at a beach with a surf lifesaving patrol. Our surf lifesavers are all volunteers, and they're absolutely indispensable. In recent years their fundraising drives have seen them pick up some pretty cool new tools, just check out this Yamaha 4x4 Wolverine - I'm desperate for a blat on one of those.

By the way, the rocky headland in the background of these sketches is called Whangarei Heads. Legend says the largest mountain, Mount Manaia, was named after the chief Manaia who arrived by canoe from Hawaiki during the great migration (today the mythical island of Hawaiki is thought to be the islands of Tahiti). Fast forward 1000 odd years to 1984 and the craggy headland filled in for Tahiti in the filming of the movie The Bounty starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins.