Monthly Archives: January 2007

Wish You Were Here: New Zealand

Kir Ora Girls!

Picture this: three girls, four surfboards and a camper van crisscrossing the North Island of New Zealand in search of waves.  This is where my friends, Robbie, Maria, and I began our one month “surf adventure.”  You may have noticed the quotes.  That’s because the waves were almost as elusive as the warm weather, but as we were determined to find them both we spent our week exploring the island.

We had planned our adventure in November, which would have been their summer.  Or so we thought, we found out it was really only their spring, which means blustery winds, rain, and a lot of blown-out surf.  We began in the capital, Auckland, a sweet city despite the cold wind and rains, with amazing restaurants and friendly surf shop employees who checked online and reported we should head towards south-east towards Gisbon.

We picked up our mode of transportation, a camper van.  Did you know that 3 girls and 4 boards (two of them longboards) take up all the room in a six person camper?  None of us had ever traveled this way before and we were all a little apprehensive to drive this lumbering vehicle on the wrong side of the road.  And to make things even more complicated, you needed to change gears with your left hand (oh yeah, it was manual). Luckily our intrepid surfer girl, Robbie, was up to the task. With only a few stall and a handful of incidents turning on the windshield wipers instead of the blinkers, we made it out of Auckland and onto the open road.

Since Gisborne is almost seven hours away, we decided to stop at the Bay of Plenty at an absolutely beautiful beach in Waihi.  While we did find some sunshine and a spectacular hike to Orakawa Bay, there was absolutely no surf. Since we were on a surf trip, gosh darn it, we drove a bit further to get a couple more miles, or kilometers, under our belt.  Since we were only half-way to our destination when it began to get dark, we parked our van and settled in for the night.  We woke in the middle of the night to what felt like and earthquake only to look out the window and see a car full of teens running way in hysterics.  Apparently they shake camper vans for fun in New Zealand.  We felt like we were really getting a taste of the culture.

Wainui Beach

The next day we drove to Gisborne, but not before stopping in a one horse town called Opotiki for some coffee and meat pies.  Okay, we all have heard that New Zealand is beautiful and it boasts some world class surf breaks, but did you know about the meat pies?  They are amazing.  And not just meat.  Chicken, pork, vegi, cheese.  Whatever you want.  I am still dreaming of the pies from this little bakery, which as far as I can tell was just called Hot Bread.  (If you find yourself in Opotiki, you must go.  You can’t miss it, as far as I can tell it’s the only bakery, no, the only restaurant in town.)  We drove through the scenic Waioeka Gorge to Gisbon where we went straight to Wainui beach.  Do you know what we found?  Waves!

We suited up and paddled out.  It was terribly windy, but offshore so that the waves were holding up perfectly.  Although, since we had planned a summer vacation we only had our 3:2 wetsuits and were FREEZING!  So we didn’t last too long in the little but fun waist high waves.  Unfortunately, the wind blew out the surf the next day.  Argh!  So we headed towards our final destination of Raglan, with and overnight stop in Rotarua for a soak in theirhot springs.  Raglan has a great surf-town vibe.  The only problem, of course, is that when we arrived it was very, very windy.  My friend Jose who is living there told us the wind might die down the next afternoon and we could go for a surf.  As he predicted that is exactly what happened.

Raglan is made up of three spots: Manu Bay, Whale Bay and Indicators.  From the road it looked like Manu Bay was crowded while Whale Bay looked a little less hectic.  There was an inside break that looked perfect for us.  When we got down to sea level however, we could see that the waves were well overhead and that the only place to paddle out was  where waves were crashing over slippery rocks.  Robbie and Maria backed out.  I knew I needed to cowboy-up, so without thinking too much about it, pulled on my wetsuit and followed Jose out.  Once in the water I realized the size of the surf.  Sets were rolling in that were lifting me high above the ocean level.  I was terrified and kept paddling towards the horizon.  I wanted to get around to where I thought that little inside break was.  What I hadn’t realized is that what I thought was a cute fun break went right over some large rocks.  I knew I needed to catch just one wave so that I could say that I had surfed at Raglan.  As usual, I sat far out on the shoulder watching some stellar surfing from the locals.  Some of the nice surfers encouraged me to move farther in.  Finally, after watching me bob up and down for nearly an hour, Robbie and Maria came over to the shore and showed me exactly where to line up.  I paddled over, a wave came, and I took it!  I went right over a large rock and bailed.  Somehow the surf gods were with me and neither I nor the board got hurt.

The next morning the wind stayed down and the three of us paddled out at Manu Bay, a much friendlier spot.  We had a blast on the long, rolling lefts.  We had finally found the waves we had been searching for.

We are now onto Australia.  Fingers crossed we find some sunshine, warm water, and sick waves.

Wish you were here,



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Surf Like a Girl Pro Interview: Chelsea Hedges

Chelsea has a lot to be happy about these days. There’s her success in love (she married shaper Jason Hedges) and there’s success in her sport (she is tied as the top ranked surfer on the Women’s World Tour). In 2005, this talented goofy footer did what no other woman had accomplished before: winning the Triple Crown of Surfing, which clinched her the world title. Now that she has seen the title returned to Layne Beachley in 2006, Chelsea wants it back more than ever. With her aggressively smooth style and fearlessness of big waves, she says she’s ready for 2007. While we wait, she prepares and spends downtime with Jason at their home on the gorgeous Gold Coast of Australia. Below, our Surf Like a Pro interview with Chelsea.

Last album you downloaded: “The Breakthrough” by Mary J. Blige
Best vacation: Three days in Paris with my hubby!
Last book you read: “Painting Mona Lisa” by Jeanne Kalogridis
Guilty pleasure TV show: “CSI”
Favorite comfort food: Dark chocolate
Champagne or beer (or other): Beer
Last splurge: New Mac Book Pro
Advice for beginners: Practice makes perfect.
Hero: Donkey Kong
Worst experience in the water: Surfing in Vicco when the water was freezing cold.
I’m most proud of: Being married.
Favorite rainy day activity: Going to the movies.
The perfect date: My hubby, dinner, candles, red wine, and a nice atmosphere.
Who I’d cast to play me in the movie of my life: My husband if he were a girl.
Pets: A twelve month-old Rottweiler named Meah.
Bathing suit or commando under your wetsuit: Commando
Why I surf: It makes me happy.
Words to live by: Dream, believe, commit–become.

We also asked Chelsea what she brings on an everyday surf session:

Hedges Designer Shapes Surfboard

A 3:2 Roxy Cell 6 wetsuit

Roxy sports-style/cross-back bathing suit

Roxy sunscreen, Ella Bache Zinc

Paw Paw lipbalm

Sex Wax surfwax

Creatures of Leisure Wax Comb

Roxy Towel

Endura Sports Formula Powder

and bottled water

Ponds Clean Sweep Towelettes

Roxy hat

To see more of Chelsea, visit

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Filed under Pros, Surfing

Skate Like a Girl Pro Interview: Peggy Oki

Peggy Oki, the sole female member of the legendary ’70s Zephyr skateboarding team, is the epitome of a generation that doesn’t sit still. She recently turned fifty but is still embracing her roots—reentering the world of skate parks. When she’s not skating, you might find Peggy playing viola with the UCSB Middle East ensemble, surfing, or mountain biking (although, she doesn’t have as much time for mountain biking since she fell in love with rock climbing…). In her crusade to save the dolphins and whales, Peggy can be found organizing a letter-writing campaign, teaching children, or creating paintings and greeting cards for her cause. Below, our Skate Like a Pro interview with Peggy.

Last song you downloaded: “Dani California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
Last book you read: “White as the Waves” by Alison Baird. It’s a very well-written retelling of Moby Dick from the whale’s perspective.
Favorite comfort food: Dark chocolate with almonds
Champagne or beer (or other): Fresh clean water from a mountain spring, please.
Advice for beginners: Practice, practice, practice!
Hero: His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama, Jack Johnson, Yvon Chouinard
I’m most proud of: The victories of united efforts to protect the environment, dolphins, and the whales.
Favorite rainy day activity: Riding my homemade “Indoboard.” I called and asked if I could get a real one but the guy never did. Maybe he lost my contact info. Wassup?
Pet peeve: People who litter or show disrespect for the environment and animals.
The perfect date: Surfing or climbing first, then being treated to dinner (vegan-friendly), a good movie, and dessert.
Who I’d cast to play me in the movie of my life: In previous years, Ziyi Zhang. Currently, Michelle Yeoh
Bathing suit or commando under your wetsuit: Bathing suit
Why I surf: Because there’s nothing as fine or fun as surfing perfect waves in warm water.
Words to live by: May all of my thoughts, words, and deeds be of greatest benefit to all Creatures and Beings in All Worlds.

We also asked Peggy what she brings on an everyday skate session.

Z-Cult “Peggy Oki” deck

Independent trucks

Bones 60mm SPF wheels

Bones Swiss bearings

Pro-Tec Ace “Brian Patch” helmet

Pro-Tec skate pads

…And what she brings on an everyday surf session:

Channel Islands 5’10” Twin Fin
or 6’5″ Rounded Swallow
O’Neill Psycho II – 4/3mm
O’Neill booties
OAM Leash and Traction Pad
Mr. Zog’s Quick Humps
FCS fin Key
Tide chart
Maui Jim Sunglasses
Aloe Up Sunblock
Hydrogen peroxide, Colloidal Silver
Rothhammer earplugs
Nutz over Chocolate Luna Bar
Smart Water

Read more about Peggy Oki, view her art, and help support her causes at

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Filed under Pros, Skateboarding