The smiles were as wide as the beach itself. The annual Have a Go Surf Day at Te Arai Beach on Sunday October 6 saw 140 kids take to the ocean under the watchful eye of Aotearoa Surf School.
Owner, Che Burnett and his team of coaches provided free surf lessons all day.
Now in its fifth year, the day is dedicated to helping kids of all backgrounds discover the joy of surfing. For many, the cost of a surf lesson is completely out of reach, but this day is all about having fun, learning new skills and building ocean awareness and confidence. Everything is provided free of charge; surfboards, wetsuits, sunscreen, internationally qualified and experienced coaches.
“When the wetsuit goes on it’s like a suit of armour, it removes all the barriers,” says Che. It’s just the kids, coaches and the ocean. We had light offshore winds and green waves all day. It’s a great opportunity to bring the joy of surfing to everyone. For many it’s a life changing experience.”
Over five surf sessions, starting with the micro surfers (4-6 years old), the lessons run back to back throughout the day. At the close of each session, a generous haul of goodies are given away, from surfboards, wetsuits, surf wax and stickers. Every child leaves with an official Surfing New Zealand, Junior Surfers Log Book.
“But more than that, they walk away completely buzzing with new friendships formed and a surge of confidence. In a technology aggressive world, that feels pretty good,” reflects Che.
Aotearoa Surf is a pioneering school in New Zealand, second oldest to Raglan and one of the biggest. With the sole license to operate at Te Arai Beach, the school is also fully mobile, operating from Orewa up to Ruakaka to find the perfect wave, providing tailored services, including school holiday programmes, after school lessons, private lessons, corporate events, a ‘surf sista’ club, NCEA credits, or to simply hire or buy gear.
“Bringing ocean awareness and respect is a big part of our Have a Go Surf Day,” explains Che. “There are surfers of all levels in the water and our coaches make sure everyone is staying safe, learning new skills, picking up surfer’s etiquette and having a great time.” he says.
Now in its fifth year, the Have a Go Surf Day is dedicated to helping kids of all backgrounds discover the joy of surfing. PHOTO/SUPPLIED