Wish You Were Here: Tasman Coast, South Island, New Zealand

by Owen James Burke

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Somewhere north of the Fjordlands on the west coast of New Zealand’s south island. Photo: Owen James Burke.

Driving along New Zealand’s State Highway 6, you won’t find many surfers, people, or much of anything, really. What you will see are hundreds of kilometers of empty beach breaks, river mouths and occasional reefs. Don’t let the glaciers–or what’s left of them–looming overhead fool you, the water here is mild enough, even in winter, if eerily vacant. In fact, crowds are so light, you could find yourself begging for a surf buddy, but not I my friends, not I.

Still make sure you pack plenty of rubber and an extra board or two, as there aren’t many surf shops in these parts. Big wave surfers will want to bring the gun and wander south, where an upwelling of the south seas sends frigid Antarctic waters along with their notoriously unforgiving, cliff-bashing swells.

Stop into any roadside fish shack afterwards to grab a whitebait fritter and thaw out. You probably don’t know what that is, and maybe it doesn’t sound all that appetizing, but it’s a Kiwi delicacy and I promise, you’ll thank me later.

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