A few weeks ago, Hannah and I booked a day of surfing lessons through the University’s Travel Club: NZ$99 (about US$75) got us round trip transportation to the beach, 4 hours of surf lessons, and a wetsuit/surfboard rental.
Hannah was SUPER excited because she had surfed once before and had such a blast that she always wanted to take lessons again. I was slightly less excited because I am sort of terrified of waves…. But I had never surfed before, and I’m always up for trying new things! Plus, it’s a big part of New Zealand culture, so I had to give it a go!
Finally the day arrived! Lovely day to learn to surf, huh?
But you know what, the only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude. We didn’t let a little rain get us down! I was feeling pretty excited, mostly because I thought it would be a fun and different way to exercise! Plus, you look “sweet as” (Kiwi speak for “so cool”) when you are doing it B-)
At 10am, our sweet ride arrived:
Check out our surfboards strapped to the roof! We were originally supposed to go to the West Coast, classically known for its surfing, but the swells were too big (YIKES!) so we drove an hour and a half to a beach on the East Coast:
Tawharanui Beach. The great thing about New Zealand, especially for surfers, is that it’s so narrow that if the conditions aren’t great on one side, you can zip on across and try the other! I was VERY relieved to hear that we were steering clear of big waves because, well, that’s sort of a phobia of mine. I’m very afraid of big waves crushing on me and overpowering my strength. I like to be in control of my body. So I was a bit uneasy.
But I trusted our surf instructors because they seemed VERY experienced and VERY strong.
Here they are inspecting the conditions.
There were plenty of surfers already out there!
So, I squeezed into my wetsuit and put my Game Face on….
I am not afraid of the waves, I am not afraid of the waves, I am not afraid of the waves…
We made sure to put a layer of Banana Boat on our exposed skin (aka just our face). We aren’t dumb, so we know that even when it’s cloudy, we are still at risk of burns, cancer, and worst–WRINKLES! (just kidding) We care about keeping our skin healthy 🙂
After carrying our boards to the beach, we had a jog around to warm up and check out the beach. This helped me relax a bit! Then, we learned some safety tips about how not to get injured by your board (wait, I thought it was just the waves that could injure you?!) We finally got around to learning the surfing moves. We practiced laying on our boards and paddling, then the basic 1-2-3 steps for standing up:
- Press your hands into the board from under your chest, lifting your butt high into the air (almost like Down Dog!)
- Bring your right foot to the middle of the board and plant it on a right angle.
- Bring your left foot to the “sweet spot” and plant it on a 45-degree angle and you stand up.
Then, you just bend your knees low and use your arms to help you balance! We practiced this over and over, and I felt very agile, strong, and balanced (thanks to yoga, I think!). I thought to myself, “I think I can do this!” I was feeling sort of confident, and itching to try it out and see what it was like!
Of course, as soon as I got into the water, I pretty much started to panic about the waves. They seemed WAY big. I told myself to just go for it, but I really couldn’t mentally handle being at the breaking point of the waves. Hannah could see my fear and helped me out a lot. She convinced me that if we moved in closer to the shore, we would be far enough away from the breaking point that the waves would lose their strength once they got to us.
And you know what, she was right!
I laid on my board, looking behind me for a good wave, and when the white foam approached, I paddled and paddled! Once I could feel the water pushing me, I pushed myself up, brought my right foot up, then left foot, and stood up, and guess what? I could totally do it! I was so impressed with myself! After countless tries and several successful rides, I was feeling really worn out and slowly reverting back to my fear of the waves. Perfect time for a lunch break….
It was desperately needed. Surfing is really hard work! While we refueled and re-energized, a miracle happened….
The sun came out! It was the best motivation the Universe could send me to keep trying–clear skies!
And lots of sunshine = instant happiness. There’s our beach! So beautiful ❤
We went at it for another 45 minutes (the surf was just too rough to do it any longer) and I was happy to be able to stand and ride several more times! When we started to get worn out, Hannah and I decided to do a little trick. We rode the same wave, side by side, got up onto our knees, and high-fived! I can’t decide which was cooler, actually surfing a wave or doing the trick with Hannah.
After all, she is the Queen of the Surfboard! I was SO impressed with Hannah. She was a natural! Plus, she was great at helping me feel more comfortable in those scary conditions.
Anyways, we’re basically pros now.
And it really wiped me out! I really worked my arms to paddle and push myself up, plus my abs and legs did a job at getting me stabilized!
I think the main thing was that since I was trying something new and I wanted to get the most out of the experience, I gave it everything I had. There were times when the waves were so big that I just wanted to sit on the beach and watch, but I knew that this was my one chance to learn, so I gave it my all, and I was certainly rewarded. I learned how to surf! In fitness, I’ve really learned that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
Want to know what else is going on here in New Zealand? Read my other blog here!