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april 2005 articles

wednesday 20th april

Picked Andy Garrett up at Auckland airport on Sunday 17th April - he had just come in from Bangkok, and had been up for a full day due to the time differences, but stayed up for another 12 hours anyway. This was a sign of things to come...

2nd night in Auckland, Andy impressed the locals by getting fully lashed in an Irish bar until 4am in the morning, then proceeding to the local 24hr casino, and walking out 3 hours later tanked up and $110 up!

We have skated the local Auckland parks, Devonport and Victoria Park being the most accessible. Victoria Park is a large wood-built set-up in a tennis court; too much debris on the floor and great spaces between objects hinder easy runs.

Devonport on the other hand, is a hidden-away large concrete bowl fashioned with low rollovers, hips, a u-shaped snakerun-thing in the corner, and an overly-mellow minipipe. Not really a park to be thrashed, but flowing runs and pumping the snakerun seemed to mark this park out for a different style of riding. Easy to get to, just a 12 minute ferry ride away from the town centre - nice!

wednesday 27th april

Tour photographer Jen, Jen's friend Krista, Andy and I travelled north of Auckland, intending to tour the very north of the north island up to Cape Reinga (Ran-ga) - the Kiwi equivalent of John o'Groats!

We first travelled north from Auckland towards Paihia (Pie-he-a), the gateway to the Bay of Islands, to meet some family friends of Krista's. On route however we detoured off through the scenic route, to the great Kauri tree reserves of the western coast. These trees grow incredibly straight and tall, and were nearly logged to extinction by early settlers for ships masts.

Paihia had no skatepark, seemingly the first town we had arrived at without! Left with only street which on first view looked to be full of prime street-skating spots, but on closer examination turned out to be mostly poor.

Everything closes early in New Zealand - I mean everything. Therefore, the convenient lack of community policing resulted in some covert nightime bench-sessioning....

Met Krista's friends - who have a 55ft launch, sweet! Spent 2 days on the boat, visiting the Bay of Islands and the Hole-in-the-Rock, fishing and Andy diving for Paua (Abalone).

Saw a family of Orcas (Killer Whales) feeding in the bay, both parents and young'un coming up at about 3 minute intervals in the bay - stunning.

Visited Whangerai (Fan-ger-eye) skatepark, about an hour east of Paihia. Another concrete affair, but with a number of interesting rails, hips and lines. It had 2 back-to-back bowls, and transitions all around the side, but most transitions were declared by Andy G to be "too whippy" - the big poof! Anyway - got down to some rail action and represented for the cause, before heading back up north for the Cape.

Cape Reinga is the northern most point of New Zealand, the point where 2 seas meet, with a defined colour change detectable. It has the distinction of having New Zealands northern-most lighthouse, and a signpost to all the major cities with the relevant distances marked.

Just around the corner from Cape Reinga are the great sand dunes, where we spent a few hours riding bodyboards at high speed down the dunes with our faces inches from the ground!

They are quite controllable - with a bit of practise its possible to stand up on the boards and ride them like a skateboard. (Click image to download movie 3.7Mb)

We returned back towards Auckland along "90-mile Beach" - a 60-mile beach, so called by explorers who obviously couldn't count...

90-mile Beach is not just a place to go and look at - the beach actually IS the western highway, driveable at low tide as long as you have a car that won't get bogged down....

Breathtaking scenery in a desolate location made this one of the highlights of the trip.