One of the best things about working at Raglan Backpackers is, day after day, seeing people heading out for their first surf and returning glowing (often literally…remember sunscreen people!). I love the buzz in the kitchen in the evening as everyone swaps stories of their wins and fails.
So just in case anyone needs convincing to give it a go, here are a few reasons why surfing will win over even the biggest sceptics.
– It’s great for your health (physical and emotional)
As someone bored by every exercise class she’s tried, finding a sport that is fun AND amazing for building fitness was a serious win. Wading through the water, paddling into the waves and springing up on your board, use a whole bunch of different muscles. You always feel like you’ve done a proper work-out after a few hours in the ocean.
And if that’s not enough for you, studies show that immersing yourself in nature has a positive impact on mental health (for example, by reducing obsessive thoughts). When I’m sitting on my board, legs dangling in the ocean, breeze on my face, surrounded by lush mountains, I find it much easier to focus on the here and now, rather than all the anxieties of everyday life.
– Wetsuits aren’t that bad
Noone is going to pretend that wearing what is basically a skintight, rubber onesie is a surfing highlight. And I admit to sometimes spending a while sitting in the carpark willing myself to start the wetsuiting-up process. There are a few genuine upsides though. For a start, everyone looks the same – noone is styling out that wetsuit any better than you. They’re kind of a nice equaliser.
When you picture the classic surfer chick, she’s probably riding a barrel in a tiny bikini (golden hair, beautifully tanned skin…). Believe me, surfing in a bikini sucks. You get sunburnt, your wobbly bits are wobbling all over the place and you’re constantly worrying about a wave just whisking top or bottoms right off. With a wetsuit, you don’t have any of this to deal with.
– It gets you out of your comfort zone
It’s likely you’ve arrived here as part of a big travel adventure so you’re probably already pretty familiar with pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone. Still, this just means you’re also familiar with benefits – resilience to change, creativity, productivity etc etc. And what could be more anti-comfort than a chilly sea, towering waves and persistent memories of watching Jaws?
In Raglan, we have the perfect conditions to face your fears. With tonnes of local knowledge, we can give you plenty of tips before you go, or we can arrange a lesson in the water. There are lifeguards on the beach during summer and lots of other surfers around to keep an eye on you. The waves are usually perfect for beginners to find their surf-feet, the currents aren’t too strong, and our thick wetsuits will keep you warm all year round.
Most New Zealand itineraries recommend a sky dive, bungy jump or other form of leaping off something high. Personally, I prefer the idea of a reduced risk-of-death (and much much cheaper) adrenaline rush.
– Make friends
We all know it can sometimes be hard to connect with people as an adult. A solo travel experience can be made or broken by the people you meet along the way. Surfing gives you instant common ground. There’s always something to laugh about together, early surf experiences are rarely graceful.
My geeky, orthodontically-challenged 15 year old self would never have imagined I could fast forward 15 years and be happily chilling on the beach with the surf community. There’s just something about surfing that brings people together. I’ve met all sorts of people through surfing that I would never have met in my normal life – and as a bonus, many of them are super hot men!
And there’s a whole bunch of other little things that mean surfing should be number one on your New Zealand bucket list (or at least high up, there’s lots of cool stuff in New Zealand). Sea water dries out pimples. You don’t have to spend money on products to get your hair to give you beachy waves. And just in case you’ve heard the rumour, being on your period does not attract sharks 😉