The Final Countdown
There’s a sharp crack as another four-foot wave hits the shallow boulder/sand reef and rifles off down the line, little explosions of whitewater glistening in the morning sun every few meters as some lucky local tears the smooth wall to pieces. Standing over the action, its deep valleys and high ridges cloaked in a thick dark green forest, lies Mount Karioi.
This is the area known as Raglan, on the North Island of New Zealand’s west coast. The skies are clear and blue, the air so fresh it lifts me up with each breath. The sun, the waves, the bush-clad mountain behind me, the scent of the forest gently drifting down on the offshore breeze, at this moment I feel like there is nowhere else in the world I’d rather be.
Looking out to sea, waiting for the next set, a deep sense of calm settles over the lineup. As we watch the horizon, we notice some dark figures heading around the point in a lazy manner, appearing and disappearing, in rhythm with the long ocean swells marching towards the coast in perfect unison.
These are the popoto, or Maui’s dolphin, that call this area home. Known for their inquisitive nature and playful disposition, they bring a smile to all who see them glide by. I feel a touch of jealousy as I imagine what it would be like to ride a swell with even half the grace or fluid motion that these beautiful creatures of the sea possess.