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New Zealand - North Island, Gisbourne // The Short Beards Of Aeoteroa

Killvan's New Zealand. A tale of Maz and Jay Quinn at home in Gisbourne, and a visit from California's Mike Morrisey Anthony Giglia and co. on a Surfer Magazine adventure.


The first moments were frustrating and it stained my relatively upbeat mood considering I loathe short flights. I’m easy come easy go, but her customs badge was like a migraine. “We will have to bleach your wetsuits,” she said while squeezing a leg of my full suit, unsatisfied at the dampness within. A disastrous abalone disease in the eastern states of Australia had to be contained, and my suits were seen as a potential carrier that could transfer it to local shores. When I explained my business she changed her tone and became sympathetic, I was welcomed into the country with a warm smile, setting me bleach free.
 
Driving the smooth highway lines of the SH2 towards the north east of the country was easy. Radio fading and a cold westerly tail wind whipping me across isolated dry farmlands provided a moment for simple thoughts. As I left the flat lands heading into mountains that were a horizon I admired an hour ago, the manicured road guiding my way became inspiring, and the silver fern I had seen on rugby flags became a reality. Carpeting the mountains bright green in the afternoon light, it was twenty-two degrees and comfortable, much simpler than the city life I had left behind.

Calling out to Mike, watching him turn around with a big smile was relieving, he was off with Justin and Giglia to soak in the twilight. Hair wild and woolly they appeared liberated within the mystical scene that greeted us down on the sand. Groomed offshore swell lines were ridden in the last remains of the day as the sun disappeared behind the silhouetted mountains. Welcome to Aotearoa.
 
As we stood on the balcony post surf, perched up high in the silence of night, I was sure that whatever lay beyond the immediate view would paint a morning vibrantly. You could just feel it. “Yo brah, want a beer? Enjoy” and he handed me a Tui, the local brew. Pickle was a freckly haole character from Kauai with hospitality delivered like an Island lei. His location a vital link in this escapade, he was the ‘I know a guy down there’ connection. “I might even stay on another month,” he said with a split melon grin. His backyard was a thick slice of paradise and he has good reason to contemplate staying just that little bit longer.

An exploration of the lesser-known areas of New Zealand, primarily the Coromandel Peninsular was our desire. Raglan has been the gleaming beacon of Kiwi surf for years, though with a coastline of 9,400 miles fighting off the appeal of the obvious shouldn’t be too difficult, as this intricate coastline is exposed to swell from many directions.

“Ok, I’m Calling Maz” Giglia declared as he picked up the phone and began dialling. “The swell models are looking grim for this area, best look at heading south”.
Exploring New Zealand is relatively easy as there are tourist routes that weave over both islands, though deciphering Maori terminology hampers road sign navigation. Everywhere is accessible, you just have to know where to go, and with one of the most reliable sources on Kiwi surf at our disposal this sojourn always looked promising.

Welcome to The Brothers Quinn, New Zealand’s most successful surfing family. Maz and Jay were kicking it at home and they suggested we head their way. On the East Coast of the North Island lies humble Gisborne, a small country town of 40,000 or so that not long ago had an earthquake that rattled some buildings into condemnation. It serves as a shipping hub for a booming logging industry that is gradually surpassing the renowned NZ sheep industry (which in turn should stem the flow of sheep jokes*). ‘Gizzy’ as its affectionately known has a tight knit surfing community in which the Quinn’s play a big part. A string of international achievements from the brothers has put New Zealand surfing on the map, and it is Maz who has led the international charge.

Observing Maz standing in the car park of his local, the shadow cast is dark and brooding, perhaps intimidating. A freshly shaved head, set off by three small rats tail plats tied off at the ends, he seemed a warrior of sorts, his quiet demeanour offers no immediate comfort. While his presence on land seems quiescent, his flair on the water is proactive, a powerful rail-to-rail approach with that refined polish only seen in the more senior guys with tour experience.

 

 

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LOCATION OVERVIEW

Location: Gisbourne, North Island South Pacifc Ocean, New Zealand.
Optimum: The winter months get juicy swell though can be weather effected, summer is warmer with less energy. All year if you seek ye' shall find.
Weather: It's a cool place where water and air are generally making this a cold weather destination.
Surf Conditions: Beachbreaks, Reef Breaks, Point Breaks, Bombies, Rivermouths, Slabs. It has it all.
Access: Fly into Auckland from any major international and boot across to the east coast in about 5 or 6 hours
Accomodation: Holiday Rentals, Camper Van living. It's a humble part of the world with matching accomodation.
Live Free:  8/10.  Underrated Natural Wonder.