Water Nomads New Zealand | Looking Back 2023


Our Story

As the year comes to a close, we are looking back at 2023 - what an epic year it has been for us! It's the third year that we are living full time in our van travelling the country. 

We are super stoked to have been awarded the Travellers Choice Award by Tripadvisor for 2023, as only businesses with the very best guest experiences get it. Thank you to all who made it happen!

So here is what we have been up to throughout the year:

The first part of January saw us in Christchurch. While we were waiting for some rental gear to be returned to us, we managed to get on the water nearly every day. Great crew to sail and wing with in Lyttleton Harbour!  By the way, did you know that that’s the caldera of an ancient volcano?

We then headed off inland, towards the lakes of the MacKenzie Country. There was a little bit of fine tuning and additional research to be done for our inaugural Canterbury Lakes Trip. Tough work, I can tell you, testing the conditions! 😉

Windsurfing Canterbury Lakes, Aviemore

February kicked off with our inaugural Canterbury Lakes Surfari Trip. A new trip always involves a lot more anticipation than one that we have done several times – and we didn’t have many repeat guests on this one neither! Seems we tickled the interest of a different crowd with this trip. 

The Surfari Trip exceeded even our expectations and it was one of the highlights of the year for us. Such a cool group of watersport enthusiasts, that did get on really well with each other – so good, most of them booked directly for next years trip! We did get on the water every day, 6 different spots and conditions in 5 days. Everything from 35 knots to 10 knots of wind, beautiful sunny all the time. The pictures give you a bit of an idea. 

March is usually the most settled weather in New Zealand. We swapped the windsurf and wingfoil boards for our kayaks and had a stunning time kayaking on Lake Manapouri. We also couldn’t resist to get all the way down to Riverton again, where we had a few fantastic days of wingfoiling with rare Hector dolphins. They were super curious and constantly came along to check out the foiling action, racing along behind the board! Sorry, no pictures of that, we were too busy having fun!

April saw us taking another one of our toys out that did get neglected over the first few months: Our mountainbikes! There are so many trails in Central Otago, and so many places to explore. It was hot and dry during the day, with sometimes fairly cold nights! They made for a stunning frost in the morning, something we usually avoid. 

Unfortunately the wasn’t much playtime in May. We spent nearly all of it building a deck in Nelson. It was one of those “open-a-can-of-worms” jobs. I’m sure you know them: you start with one thing, and while you are doing it, several other things connected to it pop up. Mind you, I think the end result looked ok. 


The migration from the South to the North Island usually happens in June, and so it did as well in 2023. There are multiple reasons for this: First and most important are our Surfari Trips in Northland, which are starting end of June. This ties in with the other reason, that we don’t like it cold, and Northland is definitely the best place to be that time of year. Temperatures are moderate and there is a high chance of wind! 

Our winter Surfaris in Northland during June and July were a blast. The wind didn’t play ball all the time, but we still did get on the water most of the days and had a lot of fun. In between the trips, we did get out to play on the water ourselves, went for long beach walks or tried to catch ourselves some dinner. The pictures give you a bit of an idea.

Wingfoil Northland Richard

For August we had some jobs lined up in Auckland. That isn’t usually the place we  would like to spend too much time, but it was actually not that bad! We looked after someone’s very cute cats (something we miss being in the van) while they were away and managed to get out on the water with old friends a lot. By the way, catching up with friends was a great benefit of being cooped up in town!

Mid September it was time for us to move on – Taranaki was calling! We needed a bit of time on site to fine tune our Taranaki Wave Classic Trip. And then, this is the best time of year for wavesailing in Taranaki! We didn’t get disappointed and could sail nearly every day. Anywhere from Waitara to Kina Road, Taradise turned it on for us. 

With the Taranaki Wave Classic Trip at the end of the month, there was no reason to move anywhere during October. Sailing most days, catching up with our friends in the Naki on other days. Or combine both, and go sailing with friends! Life is good 🙂

The Taranaki Wave Classic Trip over Labour Weekend was super fun, with excellent sailing conditions on Sunday in Pungarehu. There were a lot of big smiles and tired arms in the evening! The pictures give you a bit of an idea.

Taranaki Wave Classic 2023, Pungarehu, New Zealand

November is time to migrate South again. We had a few super windy days in Wellington (again, great opportunity to catch up with friends and customers turned friends), before a beautiful crossing on the Bluebridge ferry. Super windy, but flat, with Albatros soaring along with the ferry! They are awesome to watch, I admire their flying skills, they make it look easy.

Here we are now in December, with less than 10 days to Christmas. After a brief stop over in Nelson we spent the last 10 days in the Molesworth Station (New Zealands biggest high country station). Maybe I shouldn’t tell you about it, as I think it is one of New Zealands best kept secret. We went hiking, mountainbiking, and even the wingfoil did come out of the van and did get an outing. Wide open country and natural hotpools, what’s not to love about it?

Wingfoil on Lake Tennyson, New Zealand

Over the next few days we will make our way to Christchurch, where we will be spending the busy time over Christmas and New Years. Can’t wait to see the crew in Lyttleton Harbour again and go play with them!

And, guess what? Yes, we are excited about 2024, and are especially looking forward to our upcoming Canterbury Lakes Surfari Trip! With the current El Nino weather pattern, I bet it will be an epic one! See you there?

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

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