Day one started about like you’d expect – an early rise, an eagerness to get started, and a curiosity about the people I’d be traveling with over the next week or so before hopping off in Wellington. My itinerary is such that I’ll be spending extra time in Wellington and Queenstown, which means I’ll be switching guides and groups twice during the trip.
Once we were all loaded onto the bus, Mambo, our driver and guide, went over the practicalities of the Stray tour. Of note – you can change what you’re doing at any point and Mambo’s advice is to simply “go with the flow”. If you like a spot, just stay longer. If you really like the group you’re traveling with, stay on the bus. There’s some scheduling involved, but it’s all easy. There are also daily stops for the market and ATM, as well as frequent toilet breaks.
The Endless Summer
After a stretch on the road we pulled into Raglan, famous for being a surfing mecca and the location where “The Endless Summer” was shot. The main activity here is, of course, surfing lessons with Raglan Surfing School for the newbies and board hire for the veterans. Since I’d only been on a board half a dozen times in the past, I signed up for a surfing lesson.
Three others and I were taken up to a sports shed where we were taught the basics – mostly just how to get on the board and stay there. After our half-hour lesson, we got our equipment and headed down to the beach known for its left hand surf break (not that I truly understand what that is).
The beach was beautiful and we had the entire place to ourselves for half the afternoon. The waves were small and perfect for learning. Our group of four spent the next two hours practicing our technique and trying to stand up for more than three seconds – something we all accomplished by day’s end. It’s really shocking how simple some people can make something look and how difficult it is once you give it a shot.
After our afternoon of surfing, we came back to Kaoiri Lodge, and hopped in the sauna to warm up. The lodge was set up like a surfer’s paradise with magazines, videos and what not strewn about. Huge kitchen, decent sleeping quarters and nestled in the forested hills 10 minutes from Raglan beach. A sweat and shower later we were cooking dinner (spaghetti bolognaise with salad) and settling down for a movie (cast away). Sleep came soon after.
Accomodation: Kaorioi Lodge
Activity: Surfing Lesson with Raglan Surfing School
Find out what happened next.
In an attempt to give you an idea of what the trip is like I’ll be posting like I was writing a journal, but with some practical information in case you want to follow in my footsteps.
DISCLOSURE: I HAVE RECEIVED A DISCOUNTED TOUR PACKAGE WITH STRAY BUT WILL MAINTAIN AN HONEST OUTLOOK AND PASS ALONG BOTH THE GOOD AND THE BAD AS ACCURATELY AS I CAN.