Windsurfing Southland

Windsurfing Riverton

The Far South, as opposed to the Far North. Most people associate freezing cold winds from the Antarctic, icebergs drifting past, massive swells and gnarly coastlines. And of course plenty of wildlife: seals, sealions, penguins and huge great white sharks. But we also heard of epic tales of Colac Bay and Monkey Island. So we went to see and experience ourselves. Find out what is true about the rumours…..

Invercargill greeted us with a brisk Southwesterly wind. Not knowing that that’s going to be our only day of really strong wind for the next few weeks, we took the opportunity to go out sailing at Oreti Beach. Being able to drive onto and along the beach (even with a normal car) gives you options of where exactly you wanna go out. Not that it makes much difference though: It’s a lot of sand, in 30+knts a good chunk of it is in the air, and you will be glad to be able to set up in the little shelter that your car has to offer.

I shared the water with only a couple of kites, and it was a super friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

Wild session at Oreti Beach, Invercargill

The next day we carried on over to Riverton / Aparima, where we were told there is a keen bunch of local windsurfers. None of us had been there before, and we were blown away by it’s beauty! They call it New Zealands Riviera for a reason – the water is crystal clear, and with a blue sky, it’s just stunning.

In the evening, the Easterly wind picked up nicely and we enjoyed a short but sweet session, surprised, how warm the water was. Being mid-week, not many other windsurfers were out, but we saw a surprising amount of kites, kitefoils and wingers (many of them from Queenstown). That was the most we have seen for a long time!

Coming off the water, we were greeted by John, one of the local windsurfers. Over the weekend, he introduced us to the rest of the “windsurfing club” and we were absolutely blown away by the hospitality of the locals: Not only were we allowed to park our van on their driveways and properties, we were also invited to one of their legendary “Clubnights”, an evening filled with good food and plenty of laughter and camaraderie.

Come a stranger – leave a friend. Sailing with John, Dan and Mike in Riverton

We stayed in the area for nearly 2 weeks, hoping for the wind and swell to pick up. And although Colac Bay and Monkey Island weren’t firing, we had a few nice windsurf sessions with the boys and girls in Riverton, Mitchells Bay.

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And apart from that, there is so much else to to see and to do in the area, we didn’t get bored: Watch the rare Hector Dolphins play in the bays, dive for some seafood, fill your pockets at Gemstone Beach with pebbles, chill at Cosy Nook and walk around the rocky coastline, explore goldminers history at Round Hill, enjoy the views and the stunning beaches with a long walk around Riverton Rocks. Or head over to Fiordland and walk the Humpridge Track

So, what about all those rumours I mentioned in the beginning? Yes, the wind is freezing (especially when it comes from the south = Antarctica). No, we didn’t see icebergs (but it was the height of summer, it might be different in winter). Massive swells? Unfortunately not while we were there, but looking at the coastline (and a few of Mikes photos) I’m sure they exist.

And the stories about massive great white sharks? I didn’t see any, but I’m sure they are there. After all, it’s salt water, and that’s where they live!

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