As a youngster I heard my parents and other adults talking about stress and the worries of life in general. I remember thinking ‘what do they have to stress about? I’m chilled out why aren’t they?’

Fast forward 25 years and holy s#%t! I get it bills, kids, house maintenance, work and all that stuff sure makes a heavy work load. It’s when things get tough I find myself checking swell map and planning a trip to the coast.

Ocean therapy or surf therapy is a thing! Psychologists in the US have been doing studies for the last few years on PTSD and depression to see what happens on the water. It seems the ocean has a cleansing ability and can help purge negative emotions and help put one’s feelings into proportion with life’s bigger picture.

Although I started surfing around the age of 10, it wasn’t until my 30’s that surfing really kicked in as my passion and ultimate relaxation tool. It seems funny writing this as I look back to some sessions where I’ve been slammed into the bottom, having my leash break while smack bang in the impact zone, and think ‘what can be so relaxing or therapeutic about that?’ The fact is when you’re out there on the water your mind is free, all the stresses of your day literally wash away! All you think about is the water, the waves and when is the next set going to materialise on the horizon.

If you’re not 100% comfortable in the water don’t let that hold you back, there are many surf schools around the country that can help you get acclimatised. Piha Surf Academy (https://www.pihasurfacademy.com/) and Raglan Surfing School (https://raglansurfingschool.co.nz) for instance are just a couple of the options out there. These types of organisations can give you the first basic steps, so you can understand what you need to do to catch waves and get to your feet. Also, the main factor is to give you the confidence to get out in the water in the first place.

If you’re keen to get started in surfing, there are some relatively cheap options available. You can hire a board from most surf shops or you purchase a soft-top surfboard initially. These boards have a slick bottom and a soft foam top which is extremely forgiving on you and other water uses. As you can imagine when you first start surfing the board is going to fly off in all directions! I’m a longboarding fan and this is another option for a beginner as a longboard is more stable and easier to learn on than a shortboard. The only downside with a longboard is the size, they generally start at 9 feet plus long and with size comes weight. So, for those of smaller, lighter stature they can be rather cumbersome.

The beauty with a country such as ours is we are surrounded by a fantastic coastline dotted with beaches that offer great surfing opportunities. Most towns and cities are within easy reach of the coast, so excuses for not getting out there and enjoying it are limited.

Even our largest city, Auckland has a heap of options, but generally there’s a bit of driving to do and getting through the city traffic can be reasonably stressful.

The west coast around Auckland has many different beaches worthy of a visit with Karekare, Piha, Bethells or Muriwai within easy reach of the city with surf guaranteed. The east coast is not as consistent but Te Arai Point, Tawharanui or Omaha are all good beach breaks in the right swell and within an hour to an hour and a half’s drive from the city centre.

The beauty with a country such as ours is we are surrounded by a fantastic coastline dotted with beaches that offer
great surfing opportunities.

Article by: Scott Taylor