“What we do out there gives an amazing amount of joy, you should see their faces...” enthuses Che Burnett, owner of Aotearoa Surf. He’d been out in the water for most of the day with three different, regular surf classes. I can hear the surf and smell the salt air as we chat. “We’re out in it in all weather, except for lightning strikes or tsunami warnings!” he chuckles.
His enthusiasm is contagious. Aotearoa Surf is based in Te Arai and has been operating since 2002. Five years ago Che took over the business and has continued to grow its fantastic reputation. They provide surf, kayak and paddleboard experiences, programmes, lessons and hire; fundamentals, etiquette, rules, handy tips and in-depth advice is on tap for the avid learner. With twelve staff they have a lot of talent and ensure top, group lessons with instructor to student ratio of around 1:5. A truly kiwi mix of local and international, all instructors are qualified, experienced and first aid certified.
Auckland’s East Coast offers an excellent place to learn Che said, “...it’s forgiving, easy and fun, and on the east Te Arai in particular it is very consistent, a swell magnet, delivering waves where other beaches will be flat. That’s why it is rated the number one east coast surf beach in Auckland.”
Aotearoa Surf is the sole licence holder to operate at Te Arai Regional Park, but regularly run programs and events from Orewa up to Ruakaka. Where’s best? Mangawhai and Te Arai for their consistency; pristine too of course. They generally are a safe place to be in the water, a spot out of the wind, rolling sands, clear waters, and spilling over with beauty.
It seems almost any age, desire and ability is catered for. Women can join ‘Surf Sistas’, a Monday morning girls-only surf club, the ‘Grom Squad’ made up of the ‘micro surfers’ aged 4-6 yrs and ‘juniors’ aged 7-16 yrs. There are private or group lessons available, after-school programmes and tours and packages that can cater for weekend getaways and corporate events, even kids birthday parties and hens/stag do’s.
Mid-January 2019 they’re running the Ultimate Kids Summer Surf Camp; an epic sounding five-night, all-inclusive summer camp for ages 8-16 yrs at the fantastic Moirs Point campground. Buses will be running from Auckland. Aotearoa Surf shop is located at 11 Te Arai Point Road, but don’t expect to go bikini shopping - they are core surf! Stocking “to change your lifestyle.”
A couple of hundred wetsuits, 100-odd boards, accessories and surf beach essentials; they have got the lot, in-store. Aotearoa Surf School boasts the longest operating schedule on Auckland’s East Coast too - all year round. “Any day of the year,” Che says, “we make it happen.” Discounted boards are on offer for those who’ve completed a lesson and are eager to keep getting out there. Che even shares his annual surfing holiday as a retreat now for those up for surf and sun in Canggu, on the West Coast of Bali. “We put smiles on dials, and open up a new way of life for people” Che says.
Again, I hear the waves crash, feel the cool salt spray on my face. Che’s positivity and passion for what he does is expressed vibrantly through the many dynamic happenings at Aotearoa Surf. Check out their Facebook page and website to see more of what they’ve been up to and what’s on offer.