Water Nomads New Zealand | Canterbury Lakes Custom Surfari Jan24


Trip Report

What exactly is a Water Nomads Custom Surfari? Well, it depends. As the name suggests, it's a Surfari Trip, tailored to perfectly suit your needs and wants. It can be one of our standard Surfari Trips at a different date that suits you, or it can be something completely different. Let me take you on our custom Canterbury Lakes Surfari with Rick from Australia.

Rick has been to our Canterbury Lakes Discovery Trip already the year before and loved it so much, he immediately booked again for 2024. Then work and life did get in the way and he couldn’t make the date, so we set up another Canterbury Lakes Trip specifically for him.

The first day on our standard Canterbury Lakes Trip consists of airport pick up in Queenstown early afternoon and transfer to Twizel (or self-drive and meet us there), followed by a joined dinner. With the drive from Queenstown to our accommodation in Twizel being 2.5 hours, there won’t be enough time to get on the water.

On a Custom Surfari it’s all about you and your time. So after picking Rick up at the airport around midday, we had a stop at Lake Dunstan on the way to see if we can find some wind and get on the water. Lake Dunstan was unfortunately not playing ball, but Lake Pukaki did! As a result, Rick already had a few hours on the water under his belt before even checking it at the accommodation – the beauty about your personal priorities 🙂

Wingfoiler in front of a moody mountain range on Lake Pukaki
A moody divide on Lake Pukaki, arrival day.

The forecast for the first full day of the Custom Surfari doesn’t look that promising. Light northerlies on Lake Ohau, before the rain will push across the Southern Alps into the Mackenzie Country. We made the most of it with a light-wind wing session before lunch. The rest of the day was put to good use exploring and sight seeing the top end of Lake Benmore (not really possible to access the water safely there on a windpowered craft). The dam and canal infrastructure here is fascinating.

The next day the rain was gone and we expected a late Easterly wind at Lake Aviemore. With plenty of time to go before there would be any action, Rick opted for a drive down the Waitaki Valley to the Waitaki dam and power station. That’s a bit further than we normally roam on a standard Surfari, but Rick did see a lot of the other sights already the previous year. During a custom trip, it’s all about showing you the things you are interested in! 

Waitaki powerstation
Waitaki power station
Speeding wingfoiler on Lake Ohau, Canterbury, New Zealand
How fast can you go?

We then chilled at the spot in Lake Aviemore, ready for the wind that arrived as forecasted late afternoon. We had a few fantastic hours winging before returning to Twizel for dinner.

Day 3 was Groundhog day in regards of the wind – Easterly breezes again for Lake Aviemore in the afternoon. The morning was therefore spent with a walk at the South end of Lake Benmore, overlooking the various bays and small islands you usually don’t see as they are hidden around from where you would go sailing / winging. 

Conveniently after lunch and reliable like clockwork, the wind started up in Lake Aviemore again and we sailed hard. As the afternoon progressed we kept on rigging smaller and smaller. What a stunner of a day!  Happy faces, tired muscles, and lots of photos!

Group photo Canterbury Lakes Custom Surfari at Lake Benmore, Canterbury, New Zealand
Group photo high above Lake Benmore....
Salmon dinner during the Canterbury Lakes Custom Surfari
Rick with his favourite dinner - salmon!

The Northwesterly was back on day 4. Not building in the morning, but with a bang as it sometimes does at Lake Ohau. It was fantastic, sitting in dead still air at the shore and watching the dust in the valley start to stir up. That’s always a sure sign to get your gear ready! And it is so cool to watch how it’s coming in! It’s not building slowly like the sea breeze at Lake Aviemore, but rather it’s on or off. Nothing in between!

Rick had a great time on his 3.5m wing, the training the previous day at Lake Aviemore payed out. He was absolutely flying, joined by our photographer Bevan for a while, while Heidi operated the camera. If you look at the pictures, you can easy understand why Rick rated this day as the highlight of his trip.

2 people sitting at the shore of Lake Ohau watching dust blowing up in the distance
Waiting for the wind - dust is already blowing up in the valley!
Wingfoiler on Lake Ohau, with dust blowing up in the background
It's here! Stormy conditions on Lake Ohau

Once we all had our fill, we went for a potential bonus session at Lake Ruataniwha. Bingo! Despite being exhausted, Rick and Heidi went on the water again, the breeze and flat water looked just too inviting not to. Dinner was well earned that day. 

Wingfoiler jumping off their board
Wingfoiler with yellow wing and red board jibing
Wingfoil on Lake Ruataniwha

Day 5, and it’s windy – again. The great conditions we experienced during the last week started to catch up on us all. Not only Rick, but Bevan and myself started to feel a bit tired and soar. So we chose Lake Ruataniwha for the last day on the water.  It was just so good the evening before, and fantastic to practice those race jibes and other manoeuvers with nice flat water. That doesn’t mean the crashes were less spectacular though!

All good things are coming to an end. After 6 days on the water (out of 5 official sailing days), it was time to drop Rick off at the airport in Queenstown again. Fortunately he has work on all of next week, that hopefully gives him some time to recover! 

We are already looking forward seeing you again next year Rick – hopefully with your wife then! Or we might even see you before on our Northland Surfari Trip? 

Looking to travel New Zealand? Check out Water Nomads for Watersports Rental and Surfari Trips!

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