Words: Matt Burns – Photos: Riley Bathurst
At the start of this year, Liam Smith, Oli Woods and myself decided some sunshine and warm water was in order, so we headed off for a two month excursion around the south island of New Zealand.
On arrival we were greeted with our rental wagon which was to become our travelling home. The south island is not big, maybe ten hours top to bottom and no more than four hours from either coast, but with an unlimited number of lakes, rivers, inlets and private rail gardens we had a lot to see and do.
Over the next few days we met the team from nzwakeboard.com who became our makeshift tour guides and picked up a brand spanking new Kawasaki three seater courtesy of Farnley Jet skis’. By no means was this the average holiday, with the car and ski sorted we were stripping it back to a very tight budget. Once loaded with the cheap wine and food we were off…first stop Southern Lakes.
While the lakes were cold, air temperatures were up in the high 20s, 10 mins in this sun was enough to get a glow on and wind never seemed to be an issue. The first glimpse of decent riding came and went over the next few days, bodies were spent, so we moved on to Queenstown.
Anyone who has been to Queenstown will understand this place is an oasis of action sports, tourism and amazing nightlife, we went for a day and ended up stayed for a week. There are a few hazy memories here…
Despite how fun Queenstown was, we made the tough decision to once again move on, and the three of us were off bound for the west coast. Hours passed driving through picture perfect scenery of New Zealand. The west coast soon become our pick of the spots, the lakes were sidelined with native bush, vertical mountains and the beach was never more than a few minutes up the road. Over the course of our time here we wakeskated, surfed pumping waves, and spent the nights hunting with the local’s (snaggle tooth and deer made for a few crazy moments!)
From the west coast we then moved through the top half of the island. Here our days were spent on golden sandy beaches and in temperatures around the low thirties, we rode morning sets behind the jet ski then chilled for the rest of the day. There was a different type of skating evolving at this stage, we were all starting to learn how best to skate behind a ski, this was a cool change for me personally.
The next few weeks went slightly sideways due to a massive earthquake in my home city of Christchurch. This was a heavy experience for us all but during this downtime we had a chance to look back on the past week’s humbling experiences.
By now our trip had come to an end…we had successfully filmed and shot a load of footage, big thank you here to Riley Bathurst and the team at nzwakeboard.com also Tony Smoor at NZ-Marine and all the local crew who put us up for weeks at a time.
To anyone thinking about travelling to NZ we would all like to say ‘get on’. While the UK offers an easy access to our love of riding, NZ will offer some of the most impressive back drops and remote locations on the planet.