Wish You Were Here: Dropping In at Piha, New Zealand

by Owen James Burke

Scuttlefish writer Owen James Burke is currently rambling around New Zealand in a camper van with a camera, surfboard and speargun in search of stories, waves and fish. We’re putting together a waterperson’s guide to the island nation, but meanwhile, we’ll be publishing stories and photographs, short updates along the way from the Yankee in Kiwiland. -CD


This was one of the smaller, more makable sets of the day. Photo: Owen James Burke.

A brutish, section-y left-hand wall of water comes careening in around this rock mound from the Tasman Sea on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, somehow, seemingly, gaining momentum while tearing its way through rock and sand.

This wave at Piha Beach, outside of Auckland is known–by some, at least–as the nation’s deadliest wave, to which a quick Google query is testament enough. I stayed on shore for this swell–I’ll maintain my excuse that I didn’t have a board at the time–but must admit I felt a little humbled when watching two young boys who couldn’t have been much older than seven or eight paddle out, alone.


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