Time for action. Time for kite-boarding
After our days of doing nothing in New Plymouth it’s time for action in Nelson. Sports, nature and freedom were and are our main reasons to visit New Zealand. This time we want something we don’t know yet. We’ve been surfing before, done some hiking and snorkeling, but have never been kite-boarding. Nelson is the place to do it in New Zealand. The beach is beautiful, the days are warm and the nights are relative cool. During the day the lands warms up, whereas the sea is cool which results in a sea breeze in the afternoon. That’s all we need for kite-boarding.
The next Saturday we walk to Kitescool; ready for our first kite-boarding class. The German owner Wiebke, living in New Zealand for years with her Kiwi boyfriend, wants to help us, but she can’t: “No wind, no kite-boarding”. To get rid of our disappointment we decide to go for a walk through The Grampians; a forest just outside of Nelson on top of a hill. From there we have a beautiful view over the city.
At night we try out the party life of Nelson, where we start at the House of Ale with a beautiful white wine – New Zealand specializes in them – and a nice piece of meat. When we enjoy our desert two locals start a conversation with us. While they talk about the beauty of their country they put one shot after the other in front of our nose. A few hours later – far from sober – we leave them behind and walk over to Stingrays to experience the real night life of Nelson. Inside the shots and beer go in as easy as on the terrace during desert.
The next morning, with a pretty big hangover, we drive back to Kitescool. This time we’ve got more luck. To wind hasn’t picked up into anything seriously yet, but it blows hard enough to start kiting with two little (2.4 square meter) practice kites. They help us, together with the sea breeze, to clear our head again.
Flying them works the same as flying the kite I’ve got back home. Reason for our British instructor Paul to give Mickey a kite of six and me a kite of nine square meters. And that makes a difference. When I’m not paying attention for one second the kite pulls me over the beach. No matter how I try to correct my mistake. Paul smiles and decides to spent the rest of the afternoon on safety.
The next morning we’re more than happy with those safety lessons, because this time we get a kite of ten and twelve square meters to play with. These ones will drag us over the beach if we don’t control them in the right way. So much power sounds scary, but at the same time it’s what we need for kite-surfing. However before we even try to get onto the board we need to get more handy with the kites. Not on the beach. We’ve proven we can do that. This time it’s time to hit the water where we will be surfing on our belly.
After a quick demo by Paul it’s our turn. We walk into the sea, taking our kite with us, putting it ‘on 12 o’clock’ where it hangs motionless, lay down in the water and steer the kite in the wind. Wind a quick pull it launches us a meter out of the water and keeps pulling us through the waves. One way and when we bring it up again and sent it to other way it also pulls us back almost till the point we came from.
When we want to continue the next day Paul has bad news for us. No wind. Neither the day after. It means another day of rest. If we want it or not. On Thursday it looks like another day of rest, but after sunning on the beach for hours the wind slowly starts to blow. Just to be sure Paul gets his biggest kite out: 16 square meters. It turns out to be a little too much. When I try to do some body dragging I’m more flying above the water than I’m actually in it. Mickey gives it a go with a 12 m2 one. As soon as she steers it into the wind the kite takes off with her. She’s totally pulled out of the water, flies over it only to land four meters further with a big splash.
Quickly we exchange the big kites for smaller ones. After all the training I did in the last few days I manage to hang it quiet in the air above me. Perfect, because this time I’m in the water with a board. I control the kite, place my feet on the board and steer the kite into the wind. A bit too much, With a beautiful lift up I fly into the air, lose my board and dive into the water. I decide to take it a bit easier. A bit too much, because this time I sink back into the sea. Try number 3 is more successful. I control my kite, control my board, steer it in the wind and… surf…. Ten meters, twenty, forty, fifty meters. Then I steer my board too much out of the wind and sink back into the water; with a big smile on my face.
It’s Mickey’s turn. She succeeds direct to get on the board: board babe as she is. When she comes a shore, we don’t need words to know what’s going on in each other’s mind: a new hobby has been born.
You’ll find the rest of my New Zealand stories on my travel / countries page.
I wrote this story in 2008; now I'm finally taking the time to translate it into English.