I received a phone call one morning from an Australian friend named Bede Carmine, good surfer and all round great human who loves an adventure. He informed me that he was in the South Island of New Zealand and in desperate need of a surf. Within a few hours of our phone call he had rented a small vehicle from Christchurch and arrived at my home in Wanaka.
After assessing the surf reports, the conditions looked good for the next morning down in the Catlin’s. I wanted to be there for the sunrise to photograph the waves in good light and so we decided to drive throughout the night. We left Wanaka at 6.30pm and after a detour to pick up my water housing from Dunedin we finally arrived at our destination at 2am.
I was glad of a few merino layers as I woke in the fully reclined front seat of the tiny rental car. I was surprisingly warm and comfy considering the window screen was frozen.
After enjoying some warm coffee Bede whipped up in the Jet boiler, we set off on foot towards the break, which was a short walk away. On arrival we were greeted by a vibrant sunrise and a groomed ocean. Huge waves exploded onto an unsurfable dry reef due to a super low tide and we sat on the rocks for almost 3 hours mesmerised by a spectacular display of the Southern Ocean’s raw power.
As the sun got higher and things started to warm up we dragged ourselves off the rocks and around the headland to a beach that was absolutely pumping. Bede and I ended up surfing for hours and having the place completely to ourselves (one of the joys of surfing in NZ).
Tired and sunburnt we had to call it quits, then headed to the nearest café for some coffee and snacks before starting the drive back to Wanaka.
Words and Photos: Nick Rapley