Hey dudes and dudettes! How are you all doing? For ActiveSteve, the fun just never stops. I spent an extra day in Curio Bay, because there are a number of worthwhile things to see and do here, so why rush on, right? I think I already mentioned that there are Hector’s Dolphins, Yellow-Eyed Penguins, Sea Lions, Petrified Forest, etc. etc. Also, in the surrounding areas, you can go to Slope Point, the Southernmost point on the South Island, as well as some other choice viewing spots of the rugged Southland coast and the ocean. Of course, to get to those, it’s via gravel roads, and can take a while on a bike. As you can see from my little map, I did 70km, but my speed is very high. Why is that? Well, I must confess that I toured the area in a car, not on my saddle! I also finally took a surfing lesson and tried my hand at riding the waves on a longboard. For the full details on how I did all this, read on my friends.
Upon waking up in the morning, I took quick stock of the things I’d like to do for the day, and realized I wouldn’t be able to fill up my whole day. That’s when I decided that taking a surfing lesson would be a nice way to add a little extra fun to the day, and learn a new skill. Before asking about surfing, I decided to head straight to the beach, as I had been told that the morning is a good time to check out the dolphins playing in the surf. You can even go swim with them if you want to brave the cold water or have a wetsuit. However, it’s not really that recommended, as the dolphins are quite rare, so DOC doesn’t want too many tourists harassing them in the water. So I decided just to sit back and watch for them. It didn’t take long, because just as I was cresting the hill on the way to the beach, I saw two of them jumping in the air! Cool.
Once on the beach, I made my way to where they were, and just sat down and watched for a while. It was pretty cool. Another fellow decided to go swimming with them, and put on his speedos and headed into the water. It didn’t take long for them to start coming in close to him and swim all around him. That was pretty neat, and sort of made me jealous, still, I opted to just take some pictures. I was quite lucky at one point, as just as I snapped a picture, one of the dolphins made a perfect jump in front of him, and I caught it. It’s not spectacular due to my distance, but you can still tell what it was. I told him that I’d send him the picture once I had a chance to upload it onto the web. Eventually, I decided that I’d seen enough and headed back to the backpackers. As I was walking, I almost ran right into a big Sea Lion on the beach. That wouldn’t have been good, as they are known to attack when you get near. As such, I ended up having to clamber up a cliff to get back to the Dolphin Lodge.
Once back from my dolphin spotting, I asked Nick the owner about surfing, and he said that with the way the tides were, it would be best to go out at 6pm, and that there was one other person signed up already, so we would be definitely be going. That was Greta from Italy, who was sitting at a nearby table. I wandered over and said hello and we started chatting a bit. As it turns out, she had a car, and was looking for things to do to kill some time today as well. I convinced her that we should drive to Slope Point, as well as Waipapa Point for some cool views as well as Sea Lions. She was game, so away we went. We got along pretty well, so spent most of the day touring together, including a trip to check out the petrified forest at low tide at Curio Bay, and chatting with the DOC officer there for a while. At one point, I mentioned that I had no food, and she graciously offered to share some pasta with me after surfing. Sweet as! Now I was set.
Back to the lodge, and we discovered there were 6 of us now signed up for surfing lessons that night! Crazy. Nick recruited Ariel, a Hawaiian / Alaskan surfer girl (long story) who had just arrived to work with him at the lodge, to help out with the lesson. We were all given wetsuits and carried the beginner foamy longboards down to the beach to start our lesson. On the beach, Nick demonstrated the basics like paddling, and the ‘pop-up’, which is the trickiest part of catching the wave. Well, actually, the trickiest part is the timing. Unless you nail the timing, a whole host of things can go wrong, which they did over and over again for me. Most of the time, my problem was that I was ‘pearling’ my rides. That is, nosediving into the wave, and falling off. However, I’m a stubborn lad, and had no problem going out over and over again and trying. I caught a few of the waves quite well, and rode them in to hoots and hollers from the others. It was definitely cool, and I’ll have to do it again, maybe even before I leave NZ.
When it came time to head back in, I was the last to head back in. In fact, I didn’t head back in at all. I stayed out in the water, as Ariel stuck out there with me some more to help me try to ride a few more waves. She was very helpful and was willing to stay out as long as I wanted. Although I had the energy to keep going for a few more hours, I didn’t want to annoy Nick by keeping his board out, so I reluctantly rode back into shore to join the rest of the surf crew at the lodge. All that was left was to peel the wetsuit, have a shower, and go eat some food. What a great end to a great day!
Greta had cooked up some spaghetti, and I gratefully ate it all up. After I did the cleanup, a group from the hostel had decided to head over to check out the penguins, so I tagged along, and we all headed back over to Curio Bay to check out the cute little birds. As expected, they were back on shore, but the DOC officer this time decided we should completely stay off the beach, and stay on the viewing platform so as not to scare them too much. Fair enough, they’re rare enough as it is, so I’ll do what the ranger man tells me to do. Once that was over, I just chilled out back at the lodge for a bit till it was time for bed. Nick was nice enough to even give me the option to move to my own room, as there was an empty one, which would give me a quiet nights’ sleep, and be able to get going in peace the next morning. Nice.
Well that’s the end of my tale for the day. Stay tuned for another exciting chapter in my adventures.